Monday, May 30, 2016

Springtime Flowers

I have been wanting to get out to a local treasure in Wichita, Botanica, for a few weeks now. It's part of being bitten by the flower and plant bug lately.   Last Sunday, my family headed out for breakfast and for a walk among the gardens. I did lots and lots of picture taking.  The peonies and roses were gorgeous and it was a perfect day for a leisurely stroll. I think we may end up getting a membership because it was just such a nice time.  I can see myself going a lot on my own as well.  (It is also so much nicer to walk around and carry 80 pounds less on my body).

I had been wanting to play around with a new camera lense that I received as a gift from my husband for Christmas. And also wanted to just practice using the camera more.

I got some shots that I am pretty happy with.  I've saved back my favorites for posts in the future and look forward to sharing those with you soon. 














Saturday, May 28, 2016

Tropical Tea Party

I belong to a family of tea lovers.  It may have started with my grandfather who had a love for his iced tea year round but generation by generation the love has spread.  My niece, in particular, loves her a tea party.  Over the last couple of years she has thrown tea parties at grandma's house while visiting. My girls and I always join and have as she would say, "a jolly good time."

The theme this last weekend was a Tropical Tea Party complete with grass skirts, leis and tropical d├ęcor.  The dogs (well at least Kofi) even tolerated the tea party for awhile.

We had Coral Pies (mini-strawberry pies), Seafoam cakes (mini-keto-friendly cheesecakes), fruit salsa and cinnamon-sugar chips, and white chocolate meringues to go the with tea.

The tea was the highlight for sure.  We had Pina Colada Carmen Miranda from Chelmsford Tea and it was so nice.  It steeps to a vibrant pinky red color and tastes so summery. You could easily drink it without any sweetener.  We all loved it.













Thursday, May 26, 2016

Keto (Low-Carb) Biscuits



One of my pantry staples for living a ketogenic lifestyle is Carbquik.  Carbquik is a low-carb version of the popular baking mix, Bisquik. I buy my Carbquik on Amazon for about $13 for a 3 lb. box which lasts quite awhile since I am the only one in the house who eats it. I typically use Carbquik for waffles or pancakes (with sugar free syrup) but lately I have been craving biscuits. My husband whipped up some Carbquik biscuits for me to go with our dinner of baked pork chops and french style green beans last Sunday evening. And yes, he is just that great of a guy to make dinner and make something that I can eat too. The biscuits turned out pretty good.  They definitely are comparable to a Bisquik drop biscuit. They have some flakiness to them and crumble about the same. I think they would be great with sugar-free jelly or jam or to use in a breakfast sandwich with sausage and egg. They could also be modified to use as a shortcake for Strawberry Shortcake.  I might have to try that next.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

The End of Another School Year

This year flew by fast.  I'll admit not quite as fast as prior years due to the fact that I was present this year and able to participate more in activities with the girls.  The entire last week of school felt like one big party for the girls, not that they minded.

The end of the school year was celebrated with the 5th grade trip to Rock Springs, 3rd grade Shark Dissection, Field Day for both girls, and 5th Grade Graduation for Tori.  I feels like not so long ago she was headed out to her first day of Kindergarten and now Elementary school is behind her.  I am excited for next year and all the activities she will be able to participate in at Middle School.  She's definitely excited about the technology classes and while she would like to join the music program, they don't offer anything for guitar which is what she has been playing through private lessons for well over a year now.   I'll just leave you with these photos of the our last couple of weeks closing out the school year.

5th grade and 3rd grade, in the books.













Sunday, May 22, 2016

Does Ear Candling really work?


I'm going to talk about something kind of gross today.  If you are squeamish about things like ear wax, I suggest you skip over this post.  Last week my mom was visiting and we got to talking about how she was having a strange feeling in her ear the last few days and was bugging her quite a bit.  I started to tell her about ear candling, something that I've done for years on myself and my family. I thought I would share with you my experience and what I think of candling. Please note that I am not a doctor and this is my own experience so you should always make the right decision for yourself including consulting your doctor if desired.

I've always had trouble with my ears.  Growing up, I got ear infections quite a bit.  The remedy back then was often to do a water wash on the ear that included flooding my ear with pressured water and hoping that the wax was released.  The process was pretty painful and as I got older, I started looking for alternate ways to deal with the ear pain.  I also didn't want my kids going through that kind of pain either. 

I can't recall who recommended I try out ear candles.  I didn't do much research the first time, I just hit up my local health food store and bought some.  They usually run about $10 - $15 for a pack of 4. There are directions on the packaging that should be referred to. We did a candle on my mom's ear that evening she was complaining (because I always keep some candles on hand) and she did feel some relief once we were done.  We also were able to inspect the evidence at the bottom of the candle and it appeared she did have some build up.

An ear candle is a hollow candle made of paper that has been dipped in wax.  The end that goes in the ear comes to a point so it can be angled into the ear canal. It is important that the candle is straight and creates a seal against the opening of the ear canal.   I like the candles that have a plastic enforced end, they give a tighter seal and are more durable. The opposite end of the candle, the open end, is what is lit on fire.  If you do decide to do an ear candle, I recommend you do it with the help of someone else. It is easiest to lay on your side and with your head propped up level on a pillow.  It can help to prevent ash from falling and keeps the candle nice and straight. 

The concept behind the candle is that sending heat into the ear loosens the wax and burning of the candle creates a suction that pulls the wax up into the candle. As the candle starts to burn down, you may see glimmers of fire that is the wax raising up into the candle and then burning.  Most candles have a burn line where you should stop letting the candle burn down, which is about 4 inches or so.  I like to make guard out of foil or a paper plate that surrounds the candle and keeps the ash from falling into the face by accident.  I also keep a cup of water close by so that the candle can be dropped into the water once done.  After the lit candle has been put out, the really gratifying part comes (if you like that kind of stuff which admittedly, I do).  You can cut open the rest of the candle and see if there is any ear wax that has been collected.  Some people have argued that the "wax" at the bottom of the candle is candle wax but speaking from personal experience, I can confirm that I have seen true ear wax not candle wax come out.  I have also heard that our ears can collect yeast and mold which can also be pulled up into the candle as well.  I can't say I have ever identified yeast or mold but I'm not sure I would recognize it if I did.  I've also heard that ear candles can help with ears that are blocked due to sinus pressure.  The pressure from the candle can supposedly give some relief to the ear even if there isn't wax build-up. 

 I have heard over the years that many doctors are skeptical of ear candling actually working. They also aren't FDA approved because, well, you're putting a lit candle in your ear. Others have said it can deposit wax into your ear instead of extracting it.  Despite this kind of argument and skepticism, they have worked quite well for me and my family. We've all had positive experiences.  I think my mom may also be a believer now as well.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Seedlings



A few weeks ago the girls and I picked up some seeds to try our hand at some container gardening in the backyard this summer.  I realized I wanted to do them in seed starters so I picked up a container of them this weekend.  This is the seed starter kit I bought but it is cheaper at Home Depot.  I planted all 25 spots. It was fairly simple to do.  You pour in about 5 cups of warm water across the tops of each peat pellet and wait for them to plump up.  Once they have risen, you pull back the netting a bit and put 2-3 seeds in each peat round. You cover the tops of the seeds with the extra peat and cover them with the lid.  They are supposed to sit in a warm place until they sprout. I have never tried this method so am hopeful it will work better than my past gardening attempts on vegetables.



Our family obviously has a real pepper problem -- Sweet Peppers (me), Jalapeno Peppers (Josh, me), Pepperocinis (Tori, me).  Actually now that I typed that out, I realize it is me with the pepper problem!  We also bought some Cilantro because I really love cilantro especially in my salsa. With these kinds of ingredients, I guess we should try to do a tomato plant too.  I worry about my naughty dogs getting into them, especially Molly who will eat absolutely anything!  But I may try anyway.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Keto Recipe: Baked Artichoke Heart Casserole



I didn't always love artichokes.  It was some time around the "spinach and artichoke dip" craze of the late nineties that I realized that I actually did like artichokes.  Now I'll eat them on just about anything... salad, pizza, sandwich. 

Earlier this week I was looking for some new sides to have with my meals that would be keto-friendy.  I saw that artichokes were relatively low in carbs so thought it might be good to make some sort of casserole out of them.  Since I am on the only one in my household who eats keto or would eat an artichoke for that manner, I just made small ramekin size servings.  I didn't find a recipe, I just kind of made it up as I went along and overall not too bad.

Single Serving Baked Artichoke Heart Casserole

Ingredients:
1 can of artichoke hearts
2 Tbs. Real Mayo
2 Tbs. Parmesan Cheese + additional to sprinkle on the top
1 tsp. Garlic Salt
Pepper to taste

Directions:
Open artichokes and drain well.  Put artichokes in bowl and use fork to mush them up a bit.  Add remaining ingredients and mix well.  Put in individual servings or one small casserole dish.  Sprinkle with additional Parmesan Cheese.  Bake at 400 degrees for 8 minutes.  Turn on the broiler and let broil until top is crisped to your liking. 

Monday, May 16, 2016

A journey towards cruelty-free beauty routine



My lifestyle has changed quite a bit over the years when it comes my consumption of animal products.  When I was in my early teens my family went vegetarian for a short time.  When I was in my early twenties, I went vegetarian for several years.  After that I went vegetarian + fish and chicken.  And after that I went back to eating meat.  And now I eat a ton of meat because of my ketogenic lifestyle.  I've always seen pros and cons to eating one way or another and am not here to tell anyone what they should or shouldn't do.  I am content right now with what I eat.  That may change or evolve over time and I'm ok with that.  I don't like putting myself in a certain group, I'd rather do what feels right for me.  After all, I only answer to myself.

Something I would like to do a better job of is using more cruelty-free beauty products.  I may have at times in my life been a bit of a beauty product hoarder.  And I may have a set of drawers in my closet dedicated just to storing makeup and beauty products.  I know, not a good habit and something I am working on with my whole decluttering/minimalism strategy.  In line with my desire to pare down my products, I am very interested in moving away from products that are tested on animals, use products (purchased) that are tested on animals, or are owned by companies that test on animals.  I don't expect this to be an initiative in which I dump half my items that aren't cruelty-free but rather a slow migration to weed out items that I'm no longer comfortable with.

This will be hard.

I can already tell you right now that some of my favorite brands and go-to items currently test on animals. A lot of that has to do with their desire to sell products in China. The China government requires that beauty products are tested on animals before they can be sold there.  So while a brand may not test normally for sales in the US, they have given into China sales and done the testing.  I get it.  It's all about the money to them.  Unfortunately, it's not all about the money to me.  So those brands are off my list too. My definition of cruelty-free will be those brands which do not test or are not associated with companies that test on animals.  I used the website, Cruelty Free Kitty to help with identifying what was and was not cruelty-free.  It has a lot of really valuable information.

I will also mention that this isn't the first time I've gone down this path.  In my early twenties when I went completely vegetarian, I also went cruelty-free.  I was also less beauty-product obsessed and it was fairly painless at the time.  Brands have changed and many new products have come on the market. At the time, there was a fantastic magazine called Natural Living that I read and loved.  Unfortunately, it is no longer published a long with several other natural living magazines that have come and gone over the years.

I'm sharing with you my current list of products and favorite brands that I use daily.  Items that have a * are cruelty-free and I will keep using (unless of course, I just decide to try something new) but everything else I want to eventually replace.  My plan is use up the products that I have on-hand and then replace them with a good cruelty-free alternative.  I'll be sharing how this process goes (whether I am successful or not) and appreciate any replacement product recommendations.

Bath & Body:
 - Shampoo / Conditioner - Systeme Biologe (Matrix), Tigi Bed Head
- Body Wash - Philosophy*, Soap & Glory
- Body Butter / Lotion - Soap & Glory, Origins
- Shaving Cream - EOS

Skincare:
- Moisturizer - Garnier
- Face Wash - Neutrogena
- Lotion - Pacifica*
- Mask - Formula 10.0.6*, Freeman

Makeup:
- Foundation - Estee Lauder
- Concealer - NYX, Urban Decay
- Blush - Tarte*
- Eyebrow - Anastasia*
- Mascara - Benefit
- Eyeshadow - Lorac, Urban Decay, Tarte*
- Powder - Rimmel
- Lips - Buxom

Nails:
- Polish - Zoya*
- Remover - Zoya*

These obviously aren't all the brands I own or use but these are my favorites.  Something that was surprising to me as I researched what brands were cruelty-free were those brands that are marketed as natural, green, environmentally friendly that actually weren't. I was sure that brands like Origins, Burt's Bees, Fresh... were cruelty-free yet they weren't.  I was sadly disappointed.


Sunday, May 15, 2016

Swap.Com - Online Consignment Shop

My decluttering efforts are still underway but have been a bit slow lately.  My slow down has mostly to do with my ability to get things out of my house.  We have a lot of clothing, especially girls clothing and now my own that has to be listed, sold, and shipped on EBay.  This process, while I have gotten it down to a pretty efficient process, still takes a lot of time to do.  I would spend at least 4 hours a week listing things.

I've finally gotten pretty fed up with the piles just sitting on my bedroom floor waiting to be listed or waiting to be purchased.  I started looking at other sites that might be better to list for girls clothing.  I came across Swap.com, an online consignment store.  Swap.com takes on a lot of the work in listing items for you. They take pictures, they group items, and they post the items for you.  It is up to you to set a purchase price once the items are ready to be posted.  They also take care of the storage and the shipping which is awesome. To be fair, EBay has been fairly profitable and I still think it is great way to get rid of things you no longer need but should definitely be done on a consistent basis to avoid becoming overwhelmed with items as I have been and then trying to sell everything at once!

I decided to try sending in the stuff that hasn't moved on EBay after a couple of relists to see how it goes with Swap.com.  I ordered a box and shipping label from Swap.com and it was delivered to my doorstep.  I folded up the  clean clothing nicely and filled the box.  Swap.com claims that each large box averages $150 in income for a seller.  I'm not sure if this is more or less than what I've been making on EBay but I figured I would give it a try.  They do have a seller guarantee as well where if your items don't sell, they will buy them (at a discount rate of course).  Swap.com takes a portion of your profit, I haven't determined if it is in line with EBay/Paypal fees for EBay sales.

Right now Swap.com has a 60 day processing period for each box that they receive so it will probably be awhile before I know what kind of success I will have.  The important thing to me now is I am moving this stuff outside of my house and it is no longer cluttering up my bedroom floor!  I'll keep you posted on how it goes and if my first box generates $150 in income.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Botanical Style



Maybe it is the change of the season, maybe it has come with age (my mama certainly was blessed with a green thumb in her thirties) or maybe it is just my normal wandering mind. I love decorating my home (inside and out) with plants.  I remember when I was younger going to the garden center with my mom (again) and looking at all the flowers.  She had her favorites -- pansies, petunias, tiger lilies, portulaca, canna lilies, crocus, morning glories, lilac, daffodils, lily of the valley, and who could forget, magnolias!  Oh man, she and my dad loved their magnolia trees. They loved them so much that they would spend hours driving around on vacation with two little girls in the backseat of the car commenting over and over how much they love the magnolia trees. Magnolia. Magnolia. Magnolia.  I'm obviously still traumatized. And now I admit, I love magnolia trees... like mother, like daughter.



For Mother's Day my girls got me a new book, Botanical Style: Inspirational decorating with nature, plants, and florals by Selina Lake.  This book is gorgeous. I love how the style of the book mixes botanicals with vintage.  There are ideas for kitchens, family rooms, outdoor spaces, and offices.



It is packed full of succulents and cactus!

I love the different way that the flowers and plants are displayed, using old bottles, tubs, and jars.



I also love the botanical artwork that is hung in the rooms. I especially love vintage botanical charts.  I have a few in my bedroom that hang above my bed. 



My favorite way to decorate with plants is against natural woods and white. Especially next to my white owls... I might have a thing for white owl statues too. If you are looking for some botanical decorating ideas, this book is awesome.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

My Birthday Cake - A Low-Carb Keto Cheesecake




I was dead set on sticking to my keto diet this birthday so coming up with a birthday cake was going to be a challenge.  Lucky for me, I like cheesecake and it can easily be made keto-style or low-carb.  My husband took it upon himself to make the cheesecake for me and he did an excellent job. I like the Cheesecake Factory's Low-Carb Cheesecake and this tops that, seriously.

Low-Carb Keto Friendly Cheesecake

Ingredients:
  • 3 packages (1 and 1/2 lbs) full-fat cream cheese (room temperature)
  • 4 eggs (preferably room temperature)
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoon (1/2 Tablespoon) vanilla
  • 1 and 2/3 cups sugar equivalent of artificial sweetener, we used baking stevia
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 2 Tablespoons melted butter
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar equivalent in artificial sweetener

  • Directions:
    Heat oven to 375 F.
    Crust:  Combine the last 3 ingredients for the crust, and press into the bottom of a springform pan.
    Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until brown.

    Heat oven to 400 F.
    Cheesecake: Beat cream cheese in a mixing bowl until fluffy. Add remaining ingredients, be sure ingredients are well incorporated. Once all ingredients are combined, pour the mixture into the pan, on top of the crust. Put cheesecake in the oven and turn down to 200 F.  Bake 60 - 90 minutes until the cake is firm but center is slightly soft.
    Chill in refrigerator before serving.

    Wednesday, May 11, 2016

    Beginner Modern Woven Tapestry


    I have recently become obsessed with hanging woven tapestries.  They have returned from the seventies with a modern look and I can't get enough of them.  I decided to try my hand at weaving and thought I would share with you how things are going.

    To start, I needed weaving inspiration so I started a Pinterest Board dedicated to them.  This of course inspired me to want to make all the woven tapestries which are really complex and not probably best for beginners...lesson learned.

    I started out on a loom that my husband made me.  I was whining about wanting a large loom for a certain space in my formal living room and he offered to make me one.  There are several tutorials which can be found on blogs and YouTube.  We used this one.  The loom itself turned out nice but might have been a bit more than I could handle to start.



    I then picked up some yarn for the colors I wanted in my tapestry.  I headed out to my local craft store and grabbed some cotton yarn for the warp.  Apparently you can use a lot of different kinds of yarn for the warp but many sites recommended cotton so that's what I went with.  I also picked up acrylic yarn to work with.  I like to crochet, especially amigurumi (Japanese for small knit and crochet animals and characters) and have learned that while other yarns are nicer for blankets and household items, cheap acrylic yarn works best for designing things so figured I'd go with the same concept for my tapestry.  I'm not sure that I agree now after a couple of attempts. I actually think the acrylic yarn is more pliable which can cause it too stretch more than a natural yarn would.

    Creating the warp was pretty easy, just creating the rows with the cotton yarn in which I would weave against. I started my large weaving and it was off to a great start.  I had a shed stick (insert in the warp to open and close the warp when desired) to make the weaving process go faster.  It appeared to be working and I was thinking to myself, "this is easy and awesome, I can make a ton of these!"  After about 30 rows, I started to notice that the sides of my weaving had started to narrow from the base.  No big deal I thought, it will just be a bit smaller than I had thought.  After another few rows I realized the warp had gotten really tight and it was difficult to pull the yarn through.  Also, there was a ton of the warp showing through.  My acrylic yarn should be the highlight, not the warp! 



    So I took to the Internet again and learned that my weaving was just too tight.  I was pulling too hard putting to much pressure on the sides and the warp.  This caused my sides to narrow and my warp to show through.  Not good.  I could have kept going, as difficult as it was, and thought about it but then decided if I was going to get it right, I needed to pull it out and start again.  And maybe not on something so big.



    I found a smaller (8X10) loom at my craft store and while not the exact size I needed, it would be a lot easier to practice.  I also bought a tapestry needle to make it easier.  A tapestry needle has a bent end making it easier to weave though the warp with.  I started again.  This time keeping things nice and loose.  I was able to do several stitches including the basic stitch, the hem stitch, and rya knots.  I completed this smaller tapestry over a few hours on the weekend.  It still narrowed a bit but not at all like my first attempt.  I also had some wool roving so I tried out weaving it in the design which creates the large fluffy bumps towards the top. 



    I really like how it turned out and feel better about starting a larger project next time.  I plan to have a video on Hobby + Hound that shows all the detailed steps coming soon.  It will include starting the warp, beginning the loom, transitioning colors, different stitches, stitching designs together, and finishing off. 




    Tuesday, May 10, 2016

    Retired Morning Habit of a Former Miserable Workaholic


     
    * Thoreau's Walden Pond


    Up until a year and a half ago, I was stuck.  Like really, really stuck.  I was in one of those mental situations that I now compare to that of the thinking mentality of a drug addict or battered woman.  I don't say that lightly and I don't mean to exaggerate the situation at all. To be frank, it was really that bad. I was a workaholic - by both choice and force.  I was in a bad cycle of repeating the same bad behaviors again and again and nothing changing or improving. I didn't know how to make a change and I was completely miserable because of it.

    I was working for a company that I enjoyed when I first started working there. I loved the culture and saw a lot of opportunity to grow. I also knew that I needed to "catch up" with others my age and become a professional.  I went to school and worked full time for many years obtaining my bachelor's and master's degrees at the same time.  I was very focused and driven and was on the move one would say.  I was promoted again and again and quickly became well-known and respected in the organization.  My hard work was paying off, or so I thought.

    I was also the only woman leader in a male dominated field. Working with men never bothered me but at the same time, I felt this incredible need to prove myself to them. So I worked harder and harder.  I also knew that I was underpaid and under appreciated when compared to them.  Just another reason for me to continue to work harder, I thought.  I built up a large staff of employees and consultants and had a huge area of responsibility falling under me.  I loved being a manager and helping people succeed.  I also loved teaching people new skills and doing the right thing for my company.  You could say my job had become my passion - it was the prefect mix for me.  Helping people, teaching, using technical kills and had a fair amount of technical writing as well.  Unfortunately, I was giving my job and job alone the best parts of me.

    I achieved so many things in that job -- things that felt like I was moving mountains and still do.  Large implementations, resolution of complex technical problems, numerous process improvements, andgetting buy-in and funds from Execs to drive change in the organization.  I was very proud of myself and felt I was making others proud too.  It became really important to me that I was respected and known as someone who could get it done.

    While I was so passionate about my work, I was completely miserable a few years in.  The stress started to get to me and I did a great job of trying to hide it.  I kept a smiling face and just went with the flow; taking on additional work, additional staff, volunteering for recruiting, etc.  And after awhile it all became too much.  It was more than too much, it was completely and absolutely insane and yet I still kept at it. I attempted to raise the issue but probably never did get others to fully understand the impact the workload was having on me. I blame myself as much as my employer for allowing the situation to go on.

    After a couple of years of operating at this level, I really started to notice the toll it was taking on me physically.  My weight had crept up quite a bit, the dark circles under my eyes were permanent, I was constantly sick with something (cough, ear infection, lost voice...) and my family never saw me.  At the very end, I had worked myself into a situation where I was giving my company 100 hours of my time a week in which I was literally giving away 60 hours of work for free.  The reward was low as well.  I wasn't seeing return on my time... just bigger demands.  To be honest, if you were to have seen a photo of me from that time, you would have thought that I had some awful disease.  I didn't look healthy at all, I looked like I could keel over any day.

    I didn't just arrive in that situation.  I was actually in that situation for a long time and increasingly becoming more miserable.  I had a few people to talk to but at that point, I had exhausted everyone with repeating the same miserable story.  People didn't want to listen anymore and they didn't know what they could do to help.  Unfortunately, I was the only one could get myself out of the situation, but how? 

    I developed this daily morning habit or ritual you could call it.  I was so desperate for help, I took to the internet to google these open ended questions, "how to be happy?" "how to leave a job you love because it makes you miserable?" "my job is killing me," "my job is making me miserable," "relieving job stress," "working 100 hours a week," "taken for granted by employer."  What was I looking for in those searches?  Some answer to my problem.  Someone to identify with. Some idea I hadn't thought of yet. 

    I did find some answers but they weren't things I wanted to hear.  Common advice was: your health is more important than any job or career, there are other jobs out there that you could take even if they don't seem perfect or are a step down, stop feeling guilty for not being able to do the work of several, draw your line... the list goes on an on.  This wasn't what I wanted to hear so I would stop researching for the day and head to work. I did this for years. I also read several self-help books, watched and listened to Ted Talks and Podcasts, and saw a therapist during that time.  They all said the same things as well.  Change is hard and especially difficult when how you see the world has been skewed over years and years of stress.

    Just how bad did things have to get to force me to make a change?  I eventually found out. It wasn't one event or one person or thing I read, it just came to a point where I struggled to get out of bed.  If I wasn't at work, I was at home in bed.  And that is no life worth living.

    I started using any free time I had to find another job.  I applied everywhere. I hit a point where I made myself a promise that if I didn't find something, I would just leave.  I had retirement savings I could fall back on if I had to for awhile. I truly felt I was going to drop dead at some point and if blowing through my savings was going be the only way to prevent it, I would.

    I did find another job. It took quite awhile and wasn't ideal but was going to allow me to leave that awful situation.  It was very hard to leave the job. I remember crying as I told my team and apologizing that I just couldn't do it anymore.  I remember even though I had given my notice, I continued working long days in an attempt to keep the team afloat and prepared.  I remember being enticed to stay again and again by my employer, they really weren't happy that I was leaving.  In the end, they offered things they should have offered me years before and made promises I had heard time and time again. I just couldn't do it anymore.

    So I left.  And it was a freeing feeling but at the same, I was too dang tired to enjoy it for a long time.

    The things stress can do to your body.  I thought after a break and then starting a new lower stress job, I would just bounce back.  You don't just bounce back from a situation like that.  In fact, your body needs time to renew itself just like you would if you were going through recovery.  Mentally I had to get my head in the right spot.  I had to develop new sleeping patterns.  I had to learn how to spend time with my family again.  I had to focus on taking care of my body.  And I had to give myself time.

    I have been in recovery for the last year and a half and some things happened faster than others.  Sleeping and healthy habits were easy.  Even putting family as a priority was fairly easy.  The mental and emotional stuff was the hardest.  Learning to draw my line, not feel bad because I wasn't making huge impacts like I was before on the job, not feeling guilty for not feeling well, those things all have taken time to develop new ways of thinking. I still work on them each day.

    I have long-ago now given up my morning ritual and truly say that all that advice I googled was correct.  I really hope that if someone else is in a similar situation this post is helpful to them. You may not want to hear the advice but know that someone else completely understands and there is light at the end of the tunnel, just keep moving forward.