Understanding.


I want to share what it feels like for Alek, and kids/adults like him with similar disorders. It’s funny they use that word, “disorder”. That’s exactly what it feels like. The world, only not in the typical order it is for most people. Just read, you’ll understand.

You walk into a store; let’s say it’s a supercenter, like Walmart or Target. Notice what is around you. Bright lights everywhere, various loud noises- machines beeping, people talking, announcements blaring, bright colors all around you, people moving past you in a whirl.
Normally you can just focus on the task at hand and shut most of that out and get through your trip, navigating your way around the store with objectives in mind.
Now let’s say you have lost the ability to tune out everything happening around you. Sounds are louder; people seem to move faster, the lights seem blinding.
Your head is now buzzing with the overwhelming influx of sensations. You now cannot focus on any task. It’s become too much to handle. You either want to bolt, or you see one thing in the store you think you need and can manage to get before this assault of senses takes over.
Your mind isn’t coming up with the steps on acquiring this “something”.  You start to get upset. Your mind is so over stimulated, you can only focus on what is in your direct sight, in your hand, or the last coherent thought you had.
Now take away the process that happens in a person’s brain over years of “maturing typically” that has given you the ability to tune out these things and remember the steps to completing what feel like such thoughtless tasks.
You are feeling hungry and tired now, but there is just so much going on, you have lost the words to articulate your needs. You’ve lost track of time. It feels like it’s been an eternity because of how much you have had to process.
You see the people you are with are getting worried and frustrated. You are very in tune with emotions on top of all of these other senses. You get upset. Very upset.
Do you know how you would react then? Would a kind word and a helping hand getting you away from the onslaught be just the thing you needed?

This is what it feels like to my four year old child that is in the autism spectrum, all the time, since birth. He has never had the ability to coordinate his thoughts in certain ways that enables him to complete, what are to you, some very basic tasks. His senses are heightened because of his inability to focus on more than one or two at a time.
It’s like pouring a liquid too quickly, through a funnel that is too small.
You may see a little boy that can’t control the volume of his voice, that isn’t able to handle sitting still and remembering all the steps to control his movement to eat a full meal. Things are spilled, he’s squirming and nervous. He has very intense moments that are only meant to be affectionate but may turn out to be what I call, aggressively affectionate. I appreciate any love that he wants to give me.
You see a boy who “should be able to _______ by now”. You see that he has tantrums in public places and at home when guests are over.
You see your own child and think “if ____ did that, I would have shown them who is boss!”
Just remember the experience you just had above with me in the store. Remember he is just a little boy who doesn’t have the filters that you do. He sees you and can feel you passing judgment.  So can his exhausted and protective momma. We have lives to lead to. He is just as exhausted as I am….
Now, I’ve learned ways to avoid situations like this (story boards with our activities for the day, brief trips to run errands broken up into breaks, a distraction or something that will hold his attention so he is not overwhelmed, etc.) but sometimes, I’m just like you. There just isn’t time. He’s going to melt down. Don’t judge. Don’t gawk. Don’t pity. I’ve got this. I just need a smile or a kind word. He could use one too.

Thank God for Closed Doors


 

This week I came upon a closed door.

It was a door I was so desperately hoping to go through.

A door I could picture myself going through.

A door I was sure it was time to go through.

A door that would theoretically lead to other doors that I also wanted to go through.

But that door did not open when it came time like I had hoped.

It remained closed.

It remained closed and the peace and patience and hope I had been cultivating within, disappeared.

And I got angry, and frustrated and said things like, “life’s not fair.”

 

But wouldn’t you know, as soon as I hung my head, turned around and walked away in defeat, a window opened.

A window opened and inspiration flew in the window.

Flew in and hit me in the face.

Not hard, but like a soft reminder.

A reminder that there is a plan.

And it is good.

 

Inspiration flew in and reminded me of the things I have hoped for far longer than that open door

And along with that inspiration, motivation.

Motivation to start something frightening, something potentially life changing and something I’ve dreamed about my whole life.

Motivation to take the narrow path, full of hard work and sacrifice.

A path that will lead to many more doors, some open, some closed.

A path that leads to to a beautiful end goal and a life I’ve always wanted.

 

Thank God for closed doors

 

~K. Ramey-Martin

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“Your Best Chance”


In the past several weeks, I’ve felt a surge of energy coming from what I’m seeing in the news, social media, and people I know. The surge is like a wave, with the wind’s friction over the water’s surface, compelling it to the shore.
Times, like waves, are changing and flowing towards the beach. Slowly but then all at once. When it crests, I can only hope it will be beautiful.
What will wash ashore?
What will wash away?
What will we see rising to the top of the tallest wave?
Will we see our better selves reflected up there?
Our worst?

Life is fluid. Always moving, trying to fill any space it’s found itself in, like water.

I’d like to believe that this energy is the start of a movement. Even a small one. Even if it’s just a tiny spark that begins in a few hearts, slowly setting people free.

Free of misunderstood and barely tolerable guilt that seems to lurch behind us from infancy. I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t worried over letting someone down, feeling that any action I took might hurt someone or worse, not affect them in the least.

There are so many perceived expectations of ourselves, no one could measure up. What kind of life did my parent’s dream for me and how can I not let them down? Adversely, there are people that are just hoping and praying that they can escape the confines of baggage dumped on them from birth.
Please hear me when I say, it’s not yours to carry. None of it. Good intentions, bad intentions, and straight up apathy towards who you might “turn out to be”, is not a load meant to be shouldered.
It’s a starting place of assessment. Your heart will tell you when it’s found something that’s “yours”. All the rest, it belongs in the past. It belongs in old polaroids in a trunk somewhere in your parent’s house.

Now you are all grown up (most of us) and trying to reconcile that nagging guilt that you don’t know where it comes from. You may be like me and have folded all of that in on itself for so long you can just feel it all the time, like a tightness in your chest.
It’s not what you think. The guilt isn’t about letting them down, but letting yourself down. Bottom line is that one day, it will be your last day. Yours. Not anyone else’s.
Did you allow yourself truly passionate reciprocal love?
Did you show and give enough of yourself to have left a mark on this world? – Even if it’s only in the eyes of your children one day.
What kind of mark do you want to leave?
Did you ever find that place and time that you felt like you just took the biggest lung full of breath you’d taken since birth? That kind of peace?
No matter your gender/sexuality identity, religious convictions, familial circumstance, financial circumstance, physical circumstance; realize, please, that those are only parts of the whole.
Your whole being needs to find acknowledgement in this life.

If at a point you feel like it’s all wrong and you need to take a step back or even just walk away, it may not be possible. I want to be able to say, do what you have to do, no matter what. I can’t say that, because it won’t help.

I always remember this: “Wherever you go, there you are.”

Dramatically changing your surroundings, relationships, etc, will still leave you with whatever baggage you have packed up in your heart.

So, even changing your life drastically won’t quiet that inner voice?
Mostly, no.

Your perspective will quiet that raging bitch of voice in your head. I’ve named my voice, “Debbie Downer”. She always tells me that other people have it worse, don’t expect much because that’s what you’ll get, don’t trust or count on anyone. I mean, she’s a real bitch.
She really gets put in her place though, when I focus on the moment.

I want to really emphasize the word “moment”. I mean take a second every day to freeze your movements. Look at your hands? What are they working on? How does your body feel? Is there a breeze? Is it sunny or raining?

I often let my mind wander, no matter what I’m doing. I can be watching a completely engrossing action flick and my mind can still be racing. Our 21st century brains are hardwired now to take in waaaaaaaaaay more information than is needed. It’s like a survival instinct, long dormant.

Back to “moment”. I started doing that a couple of times a day. My head can positively buzz with the chaos surrounding me in my home, in my town, with my child, with my obligations, being tethered to social media every waking hour….. Ugh, stressful to even read isn’t it?

A couple of times a day, I like to pick a task that I don’t hate entirely, and really focus on my movements, forcibly focusing all of my energy into the sensations I’m getting and how cathartic it feels doing so. Washing dishes usually is something I try this with. The water, the bubbles, the motions, the heat, the satisfaction of an empty sink.
I like to gather little moments like this one as fuel. Thoughts to go back to when things get too much. Being present in the moment. Feeling grounded in this life and in your body. Not just trapped in your mind.
When the buzz starts to return, I quietly remind myself that I’m already doing something and there’s no need to feel the pressure of the entire rest of my day in this moment. It won’t help me get it done any faster. (unless you need to go pick up your children, by all means, please don’t leave them at school. LOL)

Don’t lock yourself into a self-made prison. Anything can start to feel confining if there is no joy in it.

Back to this energy. I hope the energy that I am sensing is a motivation of sorts to find my joy. Find my spark. As Ingrid Nilsen so bravely put it today, “Have my best chance.”
My best chance at feeling whole. Feeling acknowledged. Feeling invaluable. Feeling at peace.
Listen to your spirit. Not Debbie. Debbie is a bitch.
ego and spirit
Back soon,
-AC

Derm Day.


Dermatologist Day, that is.

So, cystic acne is a MOTHER to try and manage. Being in my 30’s and having acne is not something I was warned about! I mean, aren’t I supposed to be past the pizza face stage in life?? Whether it’s hormonal or something to do with my diet, I cannot figure out. Believe me, I’ve tried.
I was even praised on my facial cleansing routine, even though it isn’t making a lot of headway in clearing up my face. Tone and texture are good, but these damn spots, man!
I was let down gently, that despite my efforts, it’s a problem that has to be worked on “from the inside out”. So yes, I will be limiting dairy, sugar, etc. I will also be taking two different oral medications, Bactrim and Vibramycin. While much safer and not as aggressive as something like Accutane, I’m assured I will see improvement rapidly. Which is great, considering how easily I scar and get hyperpigmentation. I will have a pink/purple mark for MONTHS after I have healed.
Something else that I’ve been prescribed that I highly recommend any adult incorporate into their skin care routine is Retin-A. (Tretinoin Cream) Over the counter Retin-A products are fine, but you will just not get the results as the medical grade kind.
It not only helps clear the acne, but also the scarring and any fine lines you have accumulated. I wish I could say it is affordable for everyone and easily obtainable, but it isn’t. Well worth looking into, but not in every person’s reach. :/
For my active breakouts I was given Clindamycin. Great stuff!! It will dry up a spot before it “comes to a head”, if you know what I mean.
Something that’s in most pantries that will work similarly (though obviously not as well) is regular old apple cider vinegar, used as an astringent.

All of these products and medications are drying to the skin, so you are going to need a heavier moisturizer than you may be used to or currently using. Sunscreen- all over– is something you cannot skip. The oral medication I mentioned makes it very very easy to burn. (Like a fair skin girl like me needed help getting burned, right??)

The skin care/cleansing routine I mentioned being praised for above, I will share! All but one product is extremely affordable and have made a world of difference. I posted on instagram a while back about the trio of products I use every single day.
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My skin didn’t look this good even as a teen or in my twenties. (minus the breakouts of course, I’m talking texture and tone)
My skin type is very dry. Like, flaky dry. I get a ton of redness around my nose and mouth. My eyelids and undereyes get “crepey” and dehydrated. My pores can become very visible, very quickly.
These three beauties have taken care of all of that. I can see regression if I even skip ONE night of this routine!!
Step one:
(I like this one)
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I remove my eye makeup before anything else to reduce tugging, pulling, and scrubbing too harshly around the eye area. Some skip this step and just use their cleanser to remove it all, but I really wouldn’t! I realize “oil free” eye makeup removers are the thing right now, but I really like the oilier, more lotion like products. I’m about to wash my face anyway, so I’m not concerned with any residue. I’m more concerned with being as gentle as I can around my eyes. I let the remover soaked cotton pad rest on my lashes for close to a minute before I start wiping, to really dissolve any mascara.
Step two; product recommendation one:
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A cleansing oil. Not soap. Not a cream or gel cleanser. Dermalogica Precleanse is an hydrophilic, oil based product. This product is not “high end”, but its also not “drugstore” price range either. I find it at Ulta, drugstore.com, and sometimes Amazon. A little goes a very long way! This stuff, when used as directed, can even dissolve makeup. It is intended to remove any dirt, oil, and sebum from your pores. This goes a long way towards preventing breakouts and blackheads. Not to mention it does not strip your skin, causing it to dry out.
The way I use it is with *clean*, dry hands and a dry face. I use a quarter size amount(my skin is very dry and tends to absorb some) and start working it in circles all over my face. I linger on areas around my nose, chin, and forehead. This is really great to improve circulation in those blood vessels and give your pores a deep clean! I will do this for one to three minutes. Really, the longer the better.
A YouTube beauty gal I follow turned me on to this product, and I could just hug her! Video and her channel here. A wealth of information to be found in her advice and experience! Tammy(uppiesbeads59), I love ya!
Step three:
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Now with the water! Once or twice a week I will use an exfoliating pad(holy crap are these good!) like these, wetted down to work the oil into a milky lather. I don’t use a lot of pressure. Just gentle circles. This removes any dead skin and gives such a clean, smooth texture. Every other day of the week, I simply wet my hands and work it into that milky consistency, again just gently emulsifying the product for a good minute or so. Rinse or wipe with a flannel or very soft cloth. This product can even be used on the eye area. I’ve never had any burning or irritation.
Step four:
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Toner. I cannot sing the praises of this stuff enough. So simple, so traditional, and wowza. Witch Hazel! Specifically Thayer’s Witch Hazel toner. It’s alcohol free and comes in a variety of combinations for different skin types. I looove the rose water toner. It’s hydrating, and gently removes any leftover “yuckies” you worked out of your pores with the cleanser. This step is really important to locking in that moisture and prepping the area for your night cream or spf moisturizer.
Step five:
I wish I had a super amazing, all natural recommendation to knock your socks off here, but thus far I have had the best luck with regular old Pond’s moisturizer! I know, right? I have been using Pond’s Rejuveness as an all over, eye cream, and neck cream. It doesn’t “erase” lines per-say, but it will plump up and hydrate the skin for a much better texture.
For those lines and any scarring, I always finish off with a good Retin-A cream.
Done!
It’s time to pass out now, and I have but one more tid bit of advice. Get yourself a silk or satin pillowcase! You will thank me! My hair was a frizzy MESS every morning and I was starting to get creases on the side of my eyes and mouth from being a “side-sleeper”. I’ve woken fresh faced and frizz free since switching.
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So far, I’ve liked this case the best. It has a zipper on one end, so the case doesn’t slide off during the night. I’ve washed it weekly and hung it to dry and it’s still like new.

For progress and posterity’s sake, I’ll add a pic of the current state of my cystic acne MESS and check back in soon, after I’ve had a chance to work the new medications into my routine. Get ready for the ick. Zero filters, with flash. I’m sorry. HA!
progress pic
There is scarring at the corner of my mouth, active breakouts, and highly pigmented scarring on my neck from a recent breakout.

My pores and redness are much better than they were in my twenties, though. I only wish I had started really taking better care of my skin earlier! So to any of my 20-something and under readers, start now! Even the best cosmetics money can buy aren’t going to take care of your “canvas”. You get one body and one life, take care of it! 🙂 Loving yourself begins with caring and taking time for yourself.

Back soon,
-AC

It’s been a minute!


3ish years later, we’ve left Germany.
Settled back in the southern United States.
Damn it’s humid.
T-minus 5 years left in the military.
I’ll talk about future plans after retirement soon. I’m cautiously optimistic.
My posts will be choppy and sporadic for a while. I’m tired of perfectionism and obsessing over how things appear.
‘Tis what it is.
Still into fashion and makeup. Most women are, right?
Esthetician and skin care career field among things I’m considering down the line.
My kid just finished Kindergarten. Time to start putting some time back into myself.
My health/emotional issues of the past two years have finally come to a head and I feel like I might finally coming back down the other side of the mountain. Again, cautiously optimistic. Less willing to delve into all that quite yet.
In part inspired by said “issues”, I’ve begun to research a new way of living and a new counseling style I’m working on (with a professional). That, I will speak about later.
I’ll leave my short and annoyingly vague update with two book recommendations regarding my lifestyle/mindset changes.

Books I recommend: Reviews of both of these coming soon. I found them astoundingly helpful and uplifting.

KonMari book
http://amzn.com/1607747308– Find it here.

the-happiness-trap

http://amzn.com/1590305841– Find it here. I recommend the paper version of this book, to be able to do the worksheets and more easily reference portions.

I leave you with some quotes I have found immensely helpful to my wellbeing lately.
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Back soon.
-AC

Why I Don’t Ask Why.


I should be packing and getting ready to leave my “home” for the first time in almost three years to see my family back in the states. Nerve wracking doesn’t even cover what it feels like to see them after the last two years that we have all had.
It hasn’t hit me yet. I think all that I’ve been dealing with here has kept me in a cocoon where I know what’s been happening there, but haven’t had the emotional room to process any of it. That wouldn’t sound so self centered if I unloaded all of my troubles and worries.
So instead of packing, here I sit. Digesting as much about my current situation as I can before I go home to be there with and for my family.
I’m watching Bomb Patrol Afghanistan. It’s not what my husband does or is doing over “there”. I’m not/can’t say where he is or what he does but at least I can watch this and remember WHY we are there and why we/they all give up so much for our country.
I hear so so so many people civilian and military constantly vent about “Why the hell are we still over there??” “How dare they keep deploying people” “Waste of time” “Waste of resources” “Waste of money”…..etc. You hear it all and have probably thought or said as much.
You know what? I don’t ask why. I don’t sit here and bitch about my husband being gone and how unfair it is. You know what would be unfair? Being able to help another human being or help someone else defend their homes and doing NOTHING.
WHY are we there? To do just that! Do you think the majority of these people want to be terrorized and oppressed in their own homes? If we weren’t there, making our presence known, teaching them how to defend themselves, and showing them we mean business, HOW LONG would it be before we would be cowering in our own homes waiting on the next attack??? We as Americans are so sheltered and dare I say ignorant to the plight of the rest of the PLANET. It’s a big wide world out there. We are all flesh and blood. We all love and lose. We all have families we care about. Because of a few groups who promote hate and tyranny, other human beings are suffering and losing. Where would we be as a nation if we stood by and did nothing???
These guys are fighting and dying over there for a cause that is bigger than themselves. If you can’t stand behind that, then take down that American flag you fly. Get the words God Bless America out of your mouth. Defending the defenseless and defending our home and way of life is what gives you the right to sit there and complain about “our guys still being there”.
Just stop and think for two seconds about what you would be complaining about if they were NOT there. Do you think the terrorists would take a break? Do you think the fight would stay on the other side of the planet? Do you think it would never touch our lives again like it did on September 11? Think again.
GOD BLESS THE USA, AND GOD BLESS OUR TROOPS AND THE JOBS THEY ARE DOING. I stand behind them. Feel free to move the hell out of the way and shut your mouth.

Whole Wheat Pancakes. (that even a 3yo will eat!)


Moving away from packaged items and overly processed foods as much as I can (with my current resources) I decided to “clean up” my son’s favorite meal.
After a few misses, most notably buckwheat pancakes- which everyone hated(YICK!), I found simple from-scratch recipe from allrecipes.com that looked easy enough to make even healthier. They turned out fluffy, though not as light as white flour pancakes seeing as whole wheat (ww) flour is much more dense. Also, a lot cheaper in the quantities I needed!

I was able to add in a few healthy things, and also leave out some of the not so healthy stuff. 🙂

Basic Recipe:

(add any fruit in the batter or topics you like!)

1 cup whole wheat, or flour of your choice. I used 1/2 ww, 1/2 white all purpose flour

2 Tbs baking POWDER (this will help the pancakes fluff a bit)

Dash of salt

2 Tbs sugar, or equivalent of whatever sugar substitute you like

*whisk dry ingredients briefly

Add 2 Tbs no sugar added apple sauce (in place of oil)

1 lightly beaten egg (or egg substitute like Egg Beaters)

1 cup of milk of your choice (any fat content, almond, soy or rice milk)

Mix together. Add flour if the batter is too thin for you liking, likewise with milk if it’s too dry. Pop onto your griddle as normal!

I added chocolate chips for Hellboy this day.

*VIOLA* A healthier alternative to America’s favorite breakfast!

Makes 4-6 medium size pancakes. Double the recipe for more.

TIP!~ If you have an empty ketchup bottle, keep it! After it is cleaned, you can dispense the perfect amount of batter on the griddle this way and store any left over batter for the next day!! 😀

Notes:

1/2 tsp of MILLED flax seed can be added for extra fiber!

I did half/half with my flour because I only have the most basic whole wheat flour at my disposal. The consistency is just too dense and grainy with the type of flour I have to do all ww. Unbleached flour is of course much healthier as it has not been processed and lost most of it’s nutritional value. I used what I had.

I am still learning the differences in how food is processed, so I will just share some links so you can read and decide for yourself what flour you’d prefer to use.
http://www.recipetips.com/kitchen-tips/t–1026/types-of-wheat-flour.asp

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whole_grain

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/whole-grains/NU00204

I have transitioned my family into a simplified version of a “clean eating” diet. Namely, I try to by as fresh and whole of foods as I can find with my limited resources. If I must by packaged foods, I make sure that the ingredients have as little chemicals and man made ingredients as I can get with that product. For things we consume quite a bit of, I have tried to create my own versions of these recipes.

I am working on an upcoming post on ways I eased us into eating this way and how I incorporated some healthier options for us. I have LOTS of recipes, tips and tricks that I have picked up and want to share!

*Also coming up:

~My Favorite DIY Laundry Detergent!

~DIY “Febreeze”

~All Natural & CHEAP Fabric Softener