My Experience With Achalasia

I don’t really remember how it started but I’m pretty sure it progressed quickly. I described it as a “stuck” feeling. It was hurting me, so my parents took me to the doctor. I remember doing all these tests, first an x-ray and then an endoscopy.

An endoscopy is a procedure where they put a small camera down your throat while they look at your throat and esophagus. I was only 10 years old. I had to be awake during the procedure with no anesthesia since I needed to swallow while they viewed my reflexes. Nothing came up in the tests.

Th stuck feeling happened more often as time went on. It was actually food getting stuck at the bottom of my esophagus as I ate . My parents, not knowing what was going on, were frustrated. They didn’t know the cause and were beginning to wonder if I was making it up. They tried to coerce me to eat. They begged me, pleaded with me and eventually…hit me so I would stay at the table and eat.

When food would get stuck in my chest, I would have to wait until it passed, otherwise continuing to eat would be agonizing. Eventually, I figured out how to force myself to throw up to help relieve some of the pressure from the food blockage.

By the time I was 11, I was throwing up regularly. At meals, my parents watched me like a hawk to make sure I ate; they were still skeptical it was a physical ailment and they shamed me for not eating normally. To them, I chose not to eat. So I found excuses to leave the table and threw up in secret. If I had a lot of trouble eating and used up all my excuses to go to the bathroom, as soon as they left the room, I would throw up in a bag, hide it and dispose of it later.

Eventually they caught me. They found one of my bags of throw up.

11 year old me just didn’t know how to deal with it. The tests said that I was lying, that I had no physical problems. So why did eating hurt so bad?

So now my parents knew I was throwing up to relieve my pain. Except they didn’t really know how much pain I was in. To them, I was just choosing not to eat and throwing up. I felt their eyes judging me as I left the table to “use the bathroom.” I could smell their disgust towards me.

These were the hardest years of my life. The pain got worst and by 12 years old, I couldn’t go a meal without pain and that stuck feeling. My parents and I fought while my sisters watched quietly. One day, they demanded that I stay at the table. “Don’t you dare get up!” they said. I squirmed and writhed in pain as I felt the pressure of the food and my own saliva build up on top of each other. I remember my parents threatening me as my eyes rolled back and I started to faint from the pain.

Eventually they took me to see a psychiatrist. Because of my young age, they thought I was anorexic and bulimic. You would think that a psychiatrist would actually know I was in physical pain. But she diagnosed me with depression. She proceeded to tell my mother that she was the cause of all my problems and put me on Zoloft.

Well, shortly after my therapy stopped. My mom didn’t like hearing that. I was better off anyway, looking back, that psychiatrist just wanted to collect on the exceptional insurance that my dad’s work offered.

The following months were more of the same. More doctors, endoscopies, and barium swallow procedures. The barium swallow was the worst. It was like getting an x-ray done while drinking this nasty chalky drink. I did these tests a few times and nothing was coming up. Honestly, I think the doctors just didn’t know what they were looking for. My esophagus hadn’t been working well for years.

The puberty years are so hard and I had to be sick through it. It kept getting worst and worst. By the time I was 13 years old, I had cried so many times over it and was even considering suicide. It really messes with you to be told that you’re crazy. I’m sure my parents felt a lot of guilt after learning it was actually a physical ailment.

Lesson to parents. If your child tells you they’re in pain, BELIEVE THEM.

When I was 14, I finally saw a specialist that was able to properly diagnose me.

I had achalasia.

Finally, I knew what was wrong with me. It felt like a weight being lifted from my shoulders to finally know it wasn’t all in my head. Achalasia is a rare esophageal disorder that caused my sphincter to tighten abnormally and close the opening to my stomach. The stuck feeling was actually called an esophageal spasm. And food and liquids weren’t able to reach my stomach.

By the time I was diagnosed I looked so sickly and terrible. I struggled to eat every other bite. Fluids were getting blocked. I remember I hated taking pictures and was afraid that people thought I was anorexic. I threw up every meal and several times a meal. The pain never passed unless I threw up. The pressure of the food increased and increased. It hurt so bad because I kept it secret from other people at school, so when I had an esophageal spasm, I would just hold it instead of throwing up. It gave me anxiety to eat at restaurants, go to theme parks, or at my friends’ houses. Achalasia literally ruined my life for those 4 years.

Once I was diagnosed, it didn’t get better right away. They did a dilation procedure. This procedure required me to go under general anesthesia while they placed an instrument down my throat; it expanded at the site of tension to weaken the abnormal muscle. That worked for a few weeks but the spasms always came back. We did this procedure at least 3-4 times. But the abnormal muscle just kept getting stronger and made it more difficult to eat. Then I took a turn for the worst. In the end, I needed a feeding tube inserted through my nose since I couldn’t eat a thing. I was so thin and weak, just basically waiting to die. My face was gaunt and my arms like twigs. I had lived with it for so long now the spasms were constant; I felt happy if I could get liquids down. I grew to hate eating in general.

The heller myotomy was a godsend. It was a miracle. It was the final option for me. The surgical procedure cut through my abdomen to get to my esophagus; it cut and weakened the muscle that was giving me problems. When I woke up and tried to eat, I cried as I realized I was fixed. I could eat again. I remember my parents and I being so grateful, we gave the doctor chocolates at the follow up appointment.

Thankfully, I’m 99% better now. I’ll never be fully cured of my achalasia, but I don’t get spasms that often now. Maybe once a month or at most a handful in a month. I forgave my parents for how they ignorantly gaslighted me and shamed me for my sickness. But I still hide my spasms from everyone. Old habits die hard.

Why I Started Blogging

I actually started blogging in 2012, I was running an Amazon beauty business and kept a blog on the side as a way to promote. I had learned about SEO, online ads and how to put together a website through WordPress. When I started blogging it was surprisingly easy.

It was a beauty blog and I would write reviews about the products. People would find my blog through SEO and follow. It was slow going and there would be days when I would get 0 views and other days I’d get 20.

I learned everything I needed to do and yet I gave up too early. In 2012, I had prenatal depression and in 2013, I had acute postpartum depression. I just didn’t have the motivation to keep up with it, even though it was showing signs of success. I quit my blog. So I forgot about my blog for a few years and even went back in 2015 to make sure I closed my old blog out and shut it down. I couldn’t stand the thought of my failed blog sitting in the blogosphere and languishing. I had lost my motivation for blogging.

So I stopped writing for a bit and focused on what made me money for some time, real estate.

But writing was never far from my mind, I always went back to it as a way to cope with my hard times and secretly I wished to make a living off of blogging. One can only hope.

I’ve written a few posts on my current job and how miserable it has made me at times.

Status Update: I’m Still Not Vibing At Work

Dealing with Toxic Work Culture

The thought of working there and until I retire at 65 seemed too daunting. I can barely make it through a days work, let alone several decades of working. I long to work for myself and be my own boss. And more than anything, I long to be able to spend time with my children and family. But what kind of job would let me do that? How would I be able to put money and food on the table?

My thoughts went back to the time when I wrote my first beauty blog. If I had kept up with it, chances are I would still be doing that full time at this point. I’m literally kicking myself for quitting. But there’s a quote that I love, “The best time to start was yesterday and the next best time start as now.” So even though I messed up by quitting too early, I could still start again and build another writing portfolio. Hating my job actually inspired me. So I picked up everything I learned with my first blog, and began rebuilding with a second one.

It’s been challenging. When I was writing my beauty blog at 22, I didn’t have money to invest in my blog. What I did have was time to write and spend on it. But now at 30, I’m literally trying to scrape time together to pull out a 1000 word post. My husband needs me, my children need me and there’s housework waiting for me.

Right now I’m on maternity leave so I’m home all the time but what happens when I go back to work? I’m praying that I have the motivation to keep this up because this is really what I want to do and I’m already strapped for time.

My mother is only getting older; I wonder what I will do when she needs help getting around the house and running basic errands. I dream of a life where I’m writing full time and can be there for her. I look ahead to the future and I want to see a life where my work is flexible. My children are getting older and they’ll want to go to do after school programs, play dates with their friends and school trips. I’m going to miss all that because I’m working and commuting a hell of a lot.

My work continues to motivate me to write, like most jobs it’s always changing and trying to be more productive. Now it’s my compensation they’re trying to change by adding another employee to take a cut of the commission pie. It has me thinking that nothing is really secure in this world and I need to find alternative ways to supplement my earnings. It feels so demeaning that I’m doing a great job and seeing my earnings slashed because upper management wants more productivity for less.

So blogging gives me hope. Hope that I can change my life, rely less on my job and be happier. It allows me to do something I love- write! And best of all I get to connect with other writers and people who love to read.

Though there are days I get like 5 visitors and it seems like I’m writing to myself, I hold out hope that I’ll find a clan that appreciates and finds my writing helpful.

So I’m in this for the long haul. With the good and the bad. Even when I don’t have time, I’ll carve it out. Because I need to have this hope that blogging can change my life.

The Power Of Positivity

Positivity

I like to consider positivity one of those things you just exude.  We all know that person who caries a cloud over their head, raining on everything and everyone around them and then there’s that person who brings light into every room they enter.  They greet everyone, laugh, remember your name and generally just have a good disposition.  When talking about the future or their current state, it’s all good!  And it’s not an act, these are people who generally believe it.  We also remember what it’s like to be around someone who is depressed and an all around Negative Nelly.  But being positive can make you stand out.

There was this girl from law school that I knew.  She was very well liked, smart and…positive!  I never remember her complaining about the workload, the classes or really anything in general.  She worked hard, studied, networked through extracurricular activities. She had that confidence and believed in her work and her reason for being there.  That girl ended up winning.  She graduated among the top of her class and ended up in a great associates position at a major law firm.  I on the other hand was very negative at the time and ended up dropping out later that year. (More on that in another post)

I really didn’t learn the power of positivity until later in life. And it honestly makes a difference!  It changes your life! And best of all it makes you happy!

  1. Gratitude: At any given time we all have problems in our life.  A flat tire, a bad hair day, a lost loved one, a hard day at work.  And it’s so easy to focus on these issues but what about the good things in your life?  What about your family or great partner? What about the fact that you’ve made it to X years in your life? You’re still here enjoying what it means to be human! What about the food on the table, your job, the clothes on your back the God-given gifts life has presented you?  Now imagine you spent as much time feeling this positive about what you have in life vs what’s wrong.
  2. Affirmation: Even if it’s not true say it and make it true.  Last night I was working out with my Husband, he was helping me out with weight training.  He likes to push me.  Meanwhile, I haven’t done a single push up in, like, 8 years.  The phrases I said were, “I can’t,” “it’s too much,” “you’ve lifted more weight than me.”  when is was his turn to work out, he kept pushing himself, “come on!” “Let’s go!” After he was done with his set, he’d push himself further, “two more!” Again and again. My point is, believe in the goal and the goal will come true.  Reality starts with thought, positive or negative, and that is what the outcome will be.  My husband really believed he could lift the weight and even when he was tired and pushing himself, he could.  Write down your goals. Say them aloud every day, affirm them.  You’ll be surprised at how easily the ideas come  to you, as well as the willpower to make them happen .
  3. Action: Because positivity is nothing but hope without action, you can keep saying your mantras, keep having positive thoughts but if you’re not willing to put in the work to make it happen…  I’m sorry to have to be the one to break it to you, it ain’t falling out of the sky and happening for you. You need to ask yourself the hard questions.  What are you willing to do to make this happen? What are you willing to sacrifice? Because all gains in life start with sacrifice and work.

What I’m really saying is that changing your attitude and your perception coupled with action can bring blessings and “luck” into your life.  This isn’t just another motivational blog post.  Give it a try, seriously.   Positive thinking is everything.  Maybe positively can’t change all the problems in the world, but it will definitely change how you feel about them. 🙂  Stay Positive!

Check out my other articles!

The Power Of Change and On Gratitude…. andPlaying The Game Of Life And Winning: 5 Approaches To Success

The Horror of Dealing With Mold In My Apartment

This is the worst thing that has happened to us in a while. I don’t know which is worse having bedbugs or having mold? Both are pretty intense to have in your apartment and are nightmares to deal with.

This is the second time we’ve had mold in our apartment. I’m not talking mildew from leaving your shower on too long. I’m talking about full on mold attaching itself to half our furniture in our master bedroom and some of our furniture in our second bedroom. I’m crazy for not moving the first time but who wants to move in the middle of summer when you’re broke and made no plans on moving? Looking for apartment is the biggest pain.

As far as I know it’s not toxic. It’s just a lot of mold. The kind of mold you would find on a piece bread.

The first time our apartment went through this, it was a disaster. We had been living in the apartment building for less than a year and I had noticed that the apartment was kind of getting damp and a sort of musty smell. None of our towels were dry, not even when we hung them out, and our home was feeling really hot and humid. I had noticed that there was a piece of wood on the floor in our bedroom that was damaged and getting darker. Still, it was summer, we figured it was hot and that’s why the apartment felt this way. We weren’t that sick, I was getting congestion and occasionally losing my voice but I wasn’t connecting the dots as to why. Then one day, my husband decided to look behind the furniture while he was cleaning and found a whole giant colony of mold.

It was disgusting. Upon taking a deeper look, it was under our bed, behind our vanity dresser and in our second bedroom where my then 4 year-old daughter slept. It was coming up between the floorboards, getting in our clothes and in the air. We realized we’d been living with it for months.

I immediately contacted our landlord and expressed our concern over the health hazards of living with mold. They were accommodating, we didn’t have to pay one months rent and they paid for our dry cleaning and laundry service. They seemed responsible and brought a professional company to remediate the mold issue. It took one month for us to be out of the apartment to correct the mold. They ripped up the floors, brought giant industrial dehumidifiers to clean the air for better air quality, re-patched the floors and scraped out all the mold.

In the meantime, we were three people living in a one bedroom. It was such a nightmare! We had to clean the apartment top to bottom to live in it, sleep on an air mattress and within a month move again. When we returned, our bathroom had been re-done and our floors re-patched with new planks. We were grateful. We felt that the company had done enough to ensure that the apartment would never get mold again. So we stayed.

And from 2017 to 2019, there weren’t any issues. At that point I had gotten renters insurance, just in case. I made sure we took short showers during the summer so not to add to the humidity and I ran our dehumidifier on high while we were at work. This worked for a bit. But this year we were more careless; with the new baby I didn’t want to use the dehumidifier and dry her out. Somehow, I feel like I could have prevented this.

But the mold issue goes beyond using our dehumidifier. Mold thrives in wetness and warmth. Without a source of water, there would be no issue. Considering that there’s significant mold in two rooms in the house, there’s a serious underlying moisture problem that was never addressed the first time.

One thing you need to know about our apartment is that it’s beautiful. It’s huge with over 1300 sqft, working fireplace, galley kitchen and foyer dining room. The ceilings were high so we were able to get a large entertainment center. For the rent it’s a really, really, really good deal. And when we moved here, what we were paying was already at the top of what we could spend so moving to a different apartment at this point is just not financially feasible.

Now with the second incident of mold, we have a six year old child and newborn infant. It seems unsafe for us to stay when we know that this mold is a reoccurring issue.

We could move to another apartment, but there just aren’t that many options. Everything reasonable or nearly comparable is $300-600 more rent than what we’re paying now. Plus a potential brokers fee. There’s a housing shortage where we are.

We’re considering possibly staying after they remediate and just hustle and buckle down so we can get a down payment on a house. The maintenance on the house would at least be in our control, but it’ll be at least six months before we have a good enough down payment.

Just goes to show how hard it is to be a homeowner, even with interest rates low, the costs are enormous: with 20% down payment, 2-5% closing costs and buffer money you’ll need to maintain your day to day expenses. It seems so out of reach.

Now I know how people who are living in Flint, Michigan feel, they can’t sell their homes because of their tainted water situation and most are not in a financial position to buy a new home so where do you go?

Maybe it would be better for us to stay in our moldy apartment. But then I wonder, what would happen if five years from now either of our children get sick with cancer? We would always hold it against ourselves that we didn’t put our health first.

So what to do? We’re caught in this sick sort of moldy limbo of needing a new place and not being able to afford a move. 🙁

Tags: mold in apartment, mold around children, mold remediation apartment, recurring mold, health effects of mold, life with mold

Help! My Husband Won’t Clean

I like to visit relationship forums to give advice and share thoughts on marriage. I don’t know why, I think I like to make sure my marriage is on the right track and see what areas we can improve. It also helps to see how others manage their struggles and succeed. So far we’ve been able to avoid financial issues and dead bedrooms.

There is one reoccurring issue we have that I do see on the forums: the problem of having one spouse who cleans thoroughly and is obsessively clean versus the other who maybe isn’t as active on that front.

To name Jenny and Steve as an example. Jenny is great, she’s able to clean the whole house and maintain everything. She’s very organized but she so frustrated with her husband Steve. Steve is less detailed and often leaves cups out on the counter, always needs a reminder to put dishes in the dishwasher, forgets to take out the trash and leaves the laundry right outside the hamper. She’s tired of telling Steve what to do and wishes he could just take initiative himself.

The responses to that kind of question would usually sound something like:

“Your not his mother, he needs to clean after himself”

“Seek counseling, there a lack of communication”

“It’s not right he treats you like a slave, you’re both adults and he needs to act like one.”

In Steve’s defense, I am Steve.

I’m the more cluttered one in my marriage. My husband is constantly getting annoyed at my lack of organization, the fact that I’m not naturally disposed to being neat, and my worst offense, leaving my clothes inside out in the hamper. One of our biggest fights was over the state of my laundry. It was so bad, I needed to take the night away from home to cool down.

I like to think I’m not some sort of woman-child and that being an adult doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re hundred percent tidy all the time. I don’t believe that housework, chores, and cleaning should be the basis for marital fights let alone divorce and separation. And yet somehow it is.

You see I’m just not that type of personality that obsesses over every single piece of dust in the house, takes pleasure in emptying out the garbage or making sure the house is like a spread from Housekeepers Magazine. I don’t get excited going through the cleaning aisle deciding what to get that will be tough on grease. I’m not good at playing hostess and cleaning up after everyone at the party, and I’m definitely not great at cleaning every nook and cranny in my apartment.

My issue with cleaning goes way before I was married anyway. My mother was perfect at keeping a home. Everything had its place in the house and if you made a mess you would hear it and maybe even feel it from the slipper she used on us. I never understood why my parents stressed when they had to clean the house. As a child, all I wanted to do with was play or be outside. I was often stuck inside every Saturday while my parents broke their backs maintaining their home. It was like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. When they were cleaning they were like Mr Hyde, manic and crazy over anything that got in their way. They also used cleaning as a form of punishment. “Oh yeah you didn’t do your homework? I guess your cleaning both bathrooms this weekend!”

So yeah I have a weird relationship with cleaning, nothing triggers me more than someone nagging about me needing to clean. I’m an adult now, I should be able to live as clean or filthy as I want.

The truth is that even if I did make an effort, it would be met with derision. Either that I’m not cleaning fast enough, in the right order or using the cleaning supplies correctly. Apparently the kitchen is the last area you tackle. So I purposely let him go through cleaning weekend on his own now, he’s too particular to please.

But I think my husband has gotten used to my cleaning challenged self. We’ve taken a divide and conquer type of approach to it because we both recognize we have different strengths in our relationship. I’m very particular about our finances. I’m budgeting every week, deciding how to allocate funds, telling him where where to stop his overspending (his vaping), and planning for savings. I also make sure we take care of our health, make all the doctor appointments and cook 50% of the time.

So thankfully, I’m not a complete waste of space in this relationship.

For those of you struggling in terms of who shares the housework load I’d say give the slacker a little credit and room. We aren’t adult children taking advantage, but people with a different set of priorities, talents and strengths.

Household tasks shouldn’t be the reasons why relationships end, but surprisingly they are.

Couples counseling is another way to find a middle ground on such a tumultuous topic.

And if all else fails, just save yourselves the headache and get a cleaning service. No shame in that game.

So to Jenny and Steve, I hope you’re able to work through this difference, worst case, just hire a cleaning person, and keep both your relationship and your sanity.

Check out my other posts on relationships and marriage!

The Biggest Red Flags In A Relationship

Marriage, Finances And Money: The Benefits And Pitfalls

Tags: lazy spouse, husband doesn’t help with anything, should a husband help with housework, sharing chores, household chores, benefits of cleaning service, how to get spouse to clean.

Social Media Peaked: Then And Now

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Going back through social media memory lane makes me feel so old I want to cry.

I remember the heydays of Mypace. That was the start of it really. Everyone had a profile, we friended each other. I remember spending hours just learning HTML so I can put banners on my profile and floating stars that would sprinkle the page as it loaded. And let’s not forget the top eight. Who was in your top eight was a huge deal, people lost friends over that. And that everyone was automatically friends with Tom and Tila Tequila, she was somehow in the mix there. I wonder what happened to her….oh yeah she peaked too.

But Myspace was pretty awesome with millions of people on it; bands could get discovered and people could share their talents. You’d put your music online and somehow be found. It was the beginning of something amazing; the beginning of ordinary people becoming extraordinary!

Then shortly after, Facebook came to be. Initially, it was only accessible to college students; the exclusivity made it popular, you had to sign up with your college email to get an account. I didn’t sign up until 2008 when Facebook was only about two years old. It’s crazy when you think about it, how Facebook started in 2006 and now it’s literally the biggest tech and social media company in the world.

Anyways, back then Facebook was very bland you couldn’t really decorate it like like Myspace it was just about connecting with your friends, posting things that you had to say, and sharing pictures. It was an incredibly simplified way of connecting with people. I remember posting my thoughts and tagging friends, my pictures were everything to me.

And it’s kind of ironic because you look at Facebook now and is nothing like the Facebook of 2008. Remember how it used to look?

Original facebook

Now all that’s on my newsfeed are political pundits and arguments about politics, annoying quizzes, and baby pictures. Nobody’s connecting anymore…

Instagram and Facebook used to be my drug addiction. It really messed with my mental health to see all the posts about partying, dating, and living your best life. As we’ve all experienced, #FOMO, caused plenty of distress for those who were living perfectly normal ordinary lives.

Today, I don’t even talk to 99% of the people on my friends list but I’ll look at their pictures and try to keep tabs. The connecting that I used to do in my early 20s and in the early years of Facebook doesn’t even happen anymore. And people who are now in their early 20s aren’t using Facebook. It’s outdated, they’re on Snap Instagram, TikToc and all the newest social media platforms.

Twitter, which was started around the same time as Facebook in 2006, in my opinion, has been the most unchanged platform out of all of them. It looks pretty much the same as it did in 2006, the only major change was instead of the original 140 character tweet, you get 240 characters now. It took me a while to get used to Twitter but I can appreciate it for the simplicity and that you’re really are just having one big giant conversation with everyone else. But who would have guessed that our President in 2019 would use this platform for to communicate with the public.

When YouTube launched 14 years ago in 2005, I didn’t think much of it. First of all video taking technology was just not there yet. You needed a good camcorder to take even the most grainy films. You could not take videos on your phone. Are you kidding me, in 2005 I was still using this Nokia.

s-l1600

And I didn’t think much of it. The videos made no sense at the time, just people doing dumb sh*t on the Internet. But I guess that’s what made it funny. Who knew that YouTube would be the Bitcoin of social media, those who got in early made a killing. (Sidenote: I have to share these two videos that are the funniest viral videos. Really, 2010 literally was a great year for YouTube).

Bed Intruder Song

How To Trick People Into Thinking You’re Good Looking

It’s crazy getting viral on YouTube literally meant you could just quit your job and become a YouTuber. So many people have been able to turn YouTube into a full-time career. Around 2010, was also when people stopped watching MTV and you started to see music really take off on the video hosting platform. I remember watching Lady Gaga’s Bad Romance over and over, it reached 10 million views on the first day it published. It was one of the longest music videos, like a like a mini movie.

Now YouTube has absolutely monetized the hell out of it. Once Youtube was bought by Google in 2006, it became all about the advertising, monetization and selling of videos. Forget DVDs, everything you want and need can be bought on YouTube.

And the publishing content there is different too now, like you literally need to have some sort of studio in order to build a following on YouTube because making grainy videos is not gonna cut it anymore.

I think the scariest thing about social media is that it’s how we get a majority of our news. Since social media is the platform, they can essentially decide what we see. It used to be you picked up the newspaper at your local deli. I remember having a school project and having to get the newspaper or seeing someone at the coffee shop with a newspaper in hand. Not anymore. We’re all on our phones now looking at the news through Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Let’s not pretend that these companies aren’t deciding what they want to show you. Because they are.   Social media monitoring.   I’ve noticed that only certain media channels are promoted, especially on Facebook. We saw the rise of Huffington Post and BuzzFeed. And a lot of liberal media became a majority of what you saw on those channels.

Now we know that these websites have been collecting information on us. Facebook had its scandal and refused to share with the government the detail of their privacy practices and how they use the data. It did come out that Facebook is literally watching you and using the info that you’re willingly giving them to sell their ad space to companies.

A more recent instance of censorship would be from Pinterest and how they categorized some users under their porn block list as a way of suppression. There was a whistle blower who shared some insider information that Live-Action, a controversial pro-life organization, was under that list on Pinterest. This resulted in all of Live Action’s posts being hidden from the public, unbeknownst to them. The crazy part is that had it not been for this whistleblower, Live Action would never have known that their account was being tampered with. Pinterest obviously didn’t agree with their views and mis-characterized them as a porn site to limit their exposure.

Though social media still works to connect people to share memories and ideas, it’s now been tainted with privacy sharing, censorship, the feeling of jealousy and lack of self. From where we’ve been to where we are now, I still think 2010 is the peak of social media. Never again will we be so free and so excited to share our lives with strangers. 2010 was the year we lived social media, I don’t really know where it can go from there. Will it keep connecting people or will we be looking at a world not too different than George Orwell’s 1984?

It’s hard to say, what I do know is that social media is here to stay. And though it plays a very different role in our society now, history will tell how it changed our lives for better and for worst.

Check out my other posts:

Never Believe The Propaganda, Create Your Own Purpose

Motivational Book Club: The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A F*ck By Mark Manson

How To Make A Change in Your Life

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Tags: First video to go viral, Facebook funny video, Top ten viral video, best social media, social channels, most popular social networking sites, social network search, social media content

How To Interview Well: Tips & Tricks For The Perfect Interview

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I was always a terrible test-taker and on top of that, I’m terrible at interviewing. I just don’t have a gregarious personality. I’m introverted, I don’t smile enough but I know my stuff. Apparently, knowing my stuff doesn’t come across in my interviews if I’m not outgoing.

Personally, I feel like the interviews process is such a terrible way to hire people. There’s so much emphasis placed on interviews over resumes. How much can you really know about someone after 10 to 30 minutes of talking to them? Often times the smooth talkers and the more extroverted interviewees get preference just because they interview well. For me, I’ve gone as far as avoiding changing toxic jobs just because I don’t want to go through the interview process. It’s a nightmare. As I’m sure it is for a lot of people. But over the years I’ve gotten better. I’ve come to terms that it’s a necessary part of life like driving or Christmas with the in-laws, might as well get good at it.

Here Are The Things That I’ve Learned Along The Way:

1) Research The Company In Advance, Including Your Interviewer

Dig deep and find out everything you can about the company. Check the company website and look up the person who will be interviewing you. Google any news about them. This research will help you to come up with reasons as to why you’re a good fit for the position. Why is it important to research? Because you want to be prepared. One of the main questions interviewers ask is, “why do you want to work here?” Understanding the companies history, their current projects, what’s happening in the news will help you link your experience with why you want to work there. Since most candidates don’t put in this effort, this will separate you from the pack and help you be memorable.

2) Check Glass Door, Yelp, Linkedin and Indeed For Information.

This interview is also about finding out if this is the right position for you. Often times, people take jobs without thinking about the culture of the company, the work environment, or the benefits. It’s essential to find that out as early as possible so you could bring these questions to the interview. Glassdoor and Indeed are both great ways to get insider information on what it’s like to work at a company. Nearly every major company has a profile on Glassdoor or Indeed. There you can find out about benefits, interview questions, the salary and what current and former employees think about working there. Yelp is also a really great tool to find out more about what it would be like to work there. Customers play a major role in your work environment. What they think about the service or the product matters. With Yelp, you can find out if the company is organized or easy to deal with. I also recommend checking LinkedIn and looking at the profiles of the person interviewing and people who have similar positions as you. Low-key stalking. 😎You want to know what kind of background they have. Maybe they have something in common with you that you can bring up casually in the interview. Or maybe they know mutual acquaintances and can help with networking and getting your foot in the door before the interview. These are all amazing ways to prepare for a successful interview.

3) Dress Business Formal.

No matter the culture of the company, the best thing to do is always dress business formal for an interview. I know that interview clothes can be expensive but getting one outfit that looks fantastic will help you win the job.

I’ve seen everything. I’ve seen women trying to pull off mini dresses as interview appropriate, I’ve seen women wearing weird patterned stockings, I’ve seen men wearing borrowed sports coats with khaki pants to an interview. And though some of these outfits you can get away with, you’re risking the chance that the person who’s interviewing is a very formal, traditional professional and will judge you poorly based on your attire. Always better to be overdressed than underdressed.

Women should wear either a pant suit or, preferably, a pencil skirt with a blouse and blazer. For men, all you need to do is invest in a $200 tailored suit and $100 dress shoes and that’ll be your interview outfit for years to come.

4) Prepare Mock Interview Answers And Questions.

The hardest question I’ve ever answered is “So tell me about yourself?” It’s such an open ended question! Where do you begin; how should I tell my story in a way that makes this person want to hire me?

Being able to answer that question and tie it into your experience and who you are is key. Give me questions about my qualifications and my previous experience anytime, it’s the open ended questions that can go anywhere that tend to be the most difficult.

Be prepared for behavioral questions. Things like, “tell me the last time you were challenged at work? Tell me about your weaknesses? Tell me about your strengths? How do you handle disgruntled clients?”

Of course you won’t know all the behavioral questions that could come your way, but preparing yourself to think about how you would react in a situation in relation to getting the job is important for your preparation.

5) What To Do The Day Of.

The day of the interview I like to abstain from coffee. For me, coffee or any caffeine makes me jittery and anxious if I’m already nervous about something. And I’m a nervous Nellie when it comes to interviewing.

I’ll also bring a bottle of water. I tend to get dry mouth when I’m nervous; a lot of people have that sort of reaction to nervousness. Nothing is the more distracting than hearing my own lips smack together while I’m trying to have a conversation, so I bring water to keep myself hydrated and even break up the conversation. Take a sip here and there if I need to think about an answer. I also make sure I have everything I need in terms of my resume. I’ll look it over one more time to make sure it’s flawless and doesn’t need an update.

Finally, I’ll just relax. You’ve already done the hardest part of preparing and if it doesn’t work out then it wasn’t a good fit. No need to torment yourself and cause more anxiety by worrying about how the interview will go. Just getting to the interview process is an accomplishment in itself.

6) Interview Etiquette.

This is really more of the basics of shaking hands when you meet someone, making a lot of eye contact and smiling.

I would also recommend using the interviewers name during the conversation. Using someone’s name frequently helps make the conversation feel familiar, friendlier, and casual.

Having a firm handshake is also important. A strong handshake is the first indicator of confidence. Don’t go with the limp or killer handshake. Practice in advance if you’re unsure of what kind of handshake you have.

7) After The Interview:

Send a thank you note. Recap what was discussed and just remind the interviewer why you’re a fit for the company. Thank you notes are professional, nice and a good reminder for an interviewer who has probably met with half a dozen people already.

Follow up on whether you received the position. Any more than once is considered desperate. If the person wanted to hire you, chances are there would be no need for a follow up. But the follow up is mainly to keep on their radar. If they tell you you haven’t received the job, you should express interest in any of future positions.

Let go. Sometimes you go on an interview, send follow up notes, send thank you notes and you never hear back. It’s hard, especially when it’s your dream job or you’ve been out of work for a while, but it’s important for you to keep a positive attitude. Sometimes that means letting go of negative feelings from past interviews.

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Interviews are nerve-wracking. It’s scary to go in front of a stranger knowing they’re judging you from what you look like, what you sound like to what’s on your resume. At the end of the day, you have to be positive and understand that it’s a numbers game. Eventually if you play your cards right with excellent interview skills, you’ll get a job that’s the right fit and the right pay. These tips will help you increase your odds to help you find the right position.

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Tags Interview question and answer, interview help, second interview, phone interview, how to face interview, how to get a great interview

Top Things To Buy For A Newborn Baby: Baby Product Review

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This is my second child and I decided I wanted to just get the bare minimum when it came to buying the baby stuff.

Baby items are expensive and with my first daughter we had a big baby shower. I got tons of gear, half of which I didn’t even use. It was just sitting around my house collecting dust. Some of it, my baby didn’t even like, so I couldn’t use it. Now that I’m kind of a veteran in baby care, I know exactly what to get so I don’t end up with items to give away.

Here are my five top items for new moms

1)Ergo Baby Carrier With Infant Insert:

I got the Ergo Baby with my first daughter because I was just tired of hauling her around in my arms. A lot of people commented that they had their own carriers either a baby sling carrier or the Bjorn baby. I ended up with the Ergo Baby because I thought wearing your baby sticking in versus facing out was better. And it seemed easier to put on than a sling. The Ergo Baby, I believe is the best best baby carrier for six months and older unless you also get the infant insert. With my second child I bought the infant insert and was able to put her in the carrier right away. I would say I started around three weeks because her legs were just a little too small to put in any sooner. She was actually not that heavy to carry and she slept a lot the first three weeks.

Overall, I use it almost every day. Most of the time I don’t want to take the stroller if it’s too bulky, I’ll put her in the baby carrier. The stroller is really good for long walks or or outings like shopping at the mall. I like baby wearing for shorter outings or if I know I’m going somewhere where there won’t be a ramp and if there’s a lot of stairs. And my baby is pretty comfortable in there. She likes to burp, it’s a good way to burp your baby and she’ll fall asleep pretty easily.

2) A Baby Swing: Ingenuity Swing

So with both my children, I got a newborn baby swing. I forget which brand my first had but my daughter really liked it; so with my second child, I decided to get another one. This time I got the ingenuity swing. It’s really cute! It has multiple settings: six settings for speed, a little button for songs, a little light and a rotating mobile that the baby can look at. The actual seat of the swing can be removed and become a rocker. We’ve used it outside as a rocker and she fell asleep in it while we were having a party! The multipurpose aspect is great. It was a bit of a pain to put together but most baby items are for safety reasons.

3)The Sleepea Swaddle:

Created by Happiest Baby On The Block, this swaddle is amazing! This baby sleep pod immediately resulted in better sleep, it’s a miracle swaddle. I think the secret is the inside wrap, in addition to the outside wrap swaddle that you can zip up or down. Perfect if you need to change your baby, you don’t need to undo the whole thing. It’s supposed to be very snug, so just keep in mind that the small size will fit children up to about four months and then after that you’ll have to get a medium. My friend had referred this swaddle to me. At that point I was desperate, my baby wasn’t sleeping well and my husband and I were exhausted. Since then, I’ve recommended it to two other families and they absolutely love it! This is the swaddle to get your baby to sleep. A reminder, you’re supposed to stop swaddling once your baby starts to be able to turn over on his own. The medium size is good for bigger babies to feel secure but there are openings on each side so the arms can be out, so it’s safe for infants able to turn.

4)Carter’s 3 Month Old Onesie Pajamas And White Onesies:

Babies grow so fast! I found that the newborn onesies will shrink and get too small within two weeks, especially if your baby was born 7.5 lbs or bigger. Just jump to the three month pajamas. They’ll be a little big at first but your baby will quickly grow into them. They won’t really get too small until your babies are at the end of two or three months. Don’t even bother getting the fancy outfits like the skirts, the dresses or the little pants and onesies sets. Sure, they look great but your baby’s going to outgrow them quickly and they’re going to ruin them by pooping through them. Let friends and family shop for all the cute stuff or buy them secondhand because, trust me, I only used the fancy baby clothes once or twice to take a picture and then was never able to fit them in that again.

5)The Boppy Pillow:

This is great for if you’re either breast-feeding or bottlefeeding! Holding a baby with the Boppy pillow will help them fall asleep after they’ve fed. I bought this pillow with my first daughter and now with my second child I had to get it again because it’s just so comfortable for breast-feeding. The one I have has a slip cover, that’s the outside cover that you can take off and wash so if breastmilk or spit up gets on it, it can be cleaned. Totally essential.

6)Diaper Gene

This is 100% necessary. I absolutely love the new Diaper Gene. Dirty diapers no longer leave a smell or stench, the Diaper Gene traps the odors. There are a lot of different brands for diaper disposal but I really love the diaper gene for the refill insert packs. The blue ring packs are just so easy to find. If you’re in a pinch, you can find them at any drug store, Target, Walmart, etc. The lesser known brands are just as good but when it comes to buying the refill bags, it’s more challenging to find.


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Overall, these are a must buy for those either having their first child or another one. I can’t imagine surviving the first year without them! It took me a lot of trial and error but my babies used and loved all these items!

Check out my other mommy life posts!

My Unplanned Pregnancy Story

My Postpartum Experience: What I Didn’t Expect

 

 

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Why Dating Apps Suck

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My close friend and I agreed to meet at the local coffee hub in my hometown. Sip This is eclectic, with someone playing guitar in the background and a string of lights and colorful dangling paper lanterns overhead. It’s nice to be able to catch up with Jessica. We’ve been so busy with our day to day lives and are lucky to meet up maybe 3-4x a year. It always feels like no time has passed.

As we sit down over a cup of joe, I can’t wait to hear what’s going on in her life. She has been single for a few years and was enjoying being back on the dating scene. A majority of what she was doing to meet guys was using online dating apps. We giggled as we went through her dating profile. I comment that she looked great in all her dating profiles- she really did. Overall, she was having fun dating and meeting new guys.

“Can I swipe for you?”

I was curious. I was married before the whole Tinder dating thing exploded. Besides, I already had an idea of what kind of guy she likes.

She hands over the phone and we huddle around it while I start reviewing profiles.

Profile after profile I swipe left. There’s a guy with his shirt off, there’s a guy surrounded by other girls in his pics, and there’s a guy who’s obviously just not right for my friend judging from his request for open relationships. Finally after swiping left endlessly, I find a guy that looks like a winner.

“Oooh, how about this one, he looks like he has a job. And is kinda cute!” I said excitedly. The app didn’t give me much to work with. Actually, he looked a little like her last serious boyfriend. I figured she’d be attracted to what seems familiar.

“Ew, no!” She rolls her eyes, “I’m glad he works, but that’s not the only criteria.”

“What’s wrong with that guy? His profile seems genuine. You could message him and get to know him,” I said, maybe if talk him up she would at least give him a chance. I was starting to get tired, we had been swiping left for like 15 minutes and we weren’t getting anywhere.

“You can swipe right all you want; but at the end of the day, I’m eventually going to have to sleep with him and if I’m not attracted to him, why bother?”

I look at her incredulously, ” You don’t have to sleep with them right away! You’re just getting to know them! And anyway, sometimes it takes time for attraction to build. It doesn’t always happen immediately.”

“I know that! But I just hate being the person to end things. It’s so awkward. And if attraction doesn’t grow after a few dates, I’ll have to end it.”

“…so you would prefer if guys broke up with you?” I was still very confused but decided to drop it and keep swiping. I didn’t want to get her upset. After all, I was already married. I needed to get off my high horse and stop judging her; dating is hard.

But it had me thinking of how ineffective online dating apps really are. I mean, it felt like a game, not too different from Pokémon Go. Gotta Catch Em All but this game was more like gotta swipe em all.

The interactions were too superficial. We spent literally 2 seconds looking at a guy to swipe left on him. She could at least read his profile to see what he had to offer. But I imagine this is how millions of app users go through profiles, swiping aimlessly left without looking at more context beyond the first profile picture. I could see why people might catfish scheme; if they don’t present themselves in the most attractive way, they’ll never get any messages. If you knew how to play the game, I’m sure you were very successful.

And all the expectations! I knew people expected sex after a handful of dates but I guess on Tinder and other dating apps that expectation comes sooner? It was causing Jessica to change how she was using the app because if she didn’t have sex with a guy after a few dates, it was going to be a whole awkward conversation. I mean, what happened to the whole courting process? The excitement of dating was not knowing if the other person liked you or whether you would have sex. Sex wasn’t automatically expected.

…Or maybe it was and I just never noticed.

Still, there was also a sense of endless dating options. We were swiping for about 40 minutes. We must’ve went through at least 200 profiles and the great options seemed endless. That’s the paradox of choice, you believe that you have so many choices that you can’t choose any of them,there’s always something better around the corner. Why should Jessica choose one of these guys right in front of her when she could just keep swiping left and possibly find the perfect man? It’s hard to let go of so many options and just choose one.

Overall, I felt like if I had to use those apps to find a date, it would just feed my narcissism. I know that sounds terrible, but we’re all a little narcissistic. We like knowing that other people like us, having someone like your profile pic or swipe right to message you feeds that narcissism. It would just reiterate the want and need to be liked. I don’t feel like the online dating apps actually help people meet the loves of their lives; more so, to feed their narcissistic tendencies.

So between having too many options being told you’re wonderful all the time and all the expectations associated with online dating it just seems stressful and a lot of work. It was interesting to get insight on how online dating is but at the end of the day I’m telling my friend not to put all her eggs in one basket there are other ways to date, including: referred by a friend, good old meeting people in public and through your work environment.

I also told Jessica she should start dating multiple men at once and so she can give more men a chance and get to know them. The men she was talking to seemed flakey.

Even though there are undoubtably people who find their match online, it seemed like a lot of work. But then again, so is being married with children. I guess we pick our poison. For me, I’m glad I’m married so I don’t have to cherry pick a man out of a sea of options, likes, swipes, and confusing social expectations.

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Pretty Privilege: The Power Of Beauty

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Photo courtesy @longlifephotography

They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder. And for the most part it is, I’ve never been one to believe that beauty played a major role in whether you can maintain a relationship. Like attracts like. With marriage and relationships, they aren’t reserved to the most beautiful of us, though it can help.

Being attractive, as studies have shown, can help in many different ways. Attractive people are considered funnier, more likable, and smarter than Plain Jane or Joe Shmoe, regardless of whether those attributes are true or not. This boost in perception is often called pretty privilege, the belief that attractiveness can open doors and better treatment. There are all types of privilege- white privilege, male privilege, rich privilege etc. But pretty privilege is unique in that any gender, race, ethnicity can have it. Some people don’t even know they have it since beauty can be subjective. I spent many years being confused and didn’t know I was considered pretty. If you look in the mirror too many times, you start to see the flaws.

But pretty privilege has an expiration date. Most enjoy this privilege from their late teens to their early 30s, some are blessed to have it even longer.

And when you think about it, pretty privilege gives an advantage for certain jobs like make up artists, instagram models, dancers, actors, hairdressers and any sales positions, etc. First impressions are everything. When you’re going to a job interview the first thing a person knows about you is how you look. That could set the mood for the whole interview and even determine whether you get the job.

I really understood how powerful pretty privilege was when I was helping two supermodels find an apartment. They were in their early 20s and looking for an apartment in East Village, NYC. Talk about a trendy place to live. They were gorgeous people. These women were incredibly beautiful, tall and svelte; I could see why they were super models. One of them did runway shows for fashion week in Paris and the other had a campaign with Gucci. There’s no better example of how pretty privilege can truly change your life because these two women made so much money, more than I will make in half my career. High six figures kind of money, just to take pictures and be beautiful, not to mention all the free stuff they got from the designers and free food they get on set. It seemed like an amazing lifestyle and all based on their beauty and attractiveness. Personality-wise these girls were like anyone else. They were introverted, nice enough, and friendly. Yet I felt drawn to get to know them better, helping out these top models was so cool!

My own experience with pretty privilege was not nearly as all-encompassing. I was actually a very ugly child; scrawny, short, and kind of man-ish. It wasn’t until my late teens and early 20s that I realized that I was conventionally attractive. Youth seems to do that to people, you’ll see older people bring out their photos of when they were young and it’s like wow I can’t believe they used to look like that! That was me in my early 20s, sort of blossoming.

Initially, it felt a bit awkward to have men and even women want to get to know me based on nothing but my appearance. I was conventionally beautiful, but because I was an ugly child for what seemed like a lifetime, the attention seemed fake and false as a young adult. Where were these people when I was plain? I used to try and make friends and it didn’t work since I wasn’t as attractive, now all of a sudden I was interesting to people.

Over the years, people’s kindness became more normal to me. I recognized that had I been less attractive I probably wouldn’t get the same amount of attention, but I figured I might as well take advantage while I can. Youth only happens once.

Things people would do that they probably wouldn’t have had I remained unattractive:

1. Give me seats on public transportation when its standing room only.

2. Free food: sometimes as an add on to what I ordered.

3. Free drinks.

4. VIP admission to clubs.

5. Offered to study with me in college (I wasn’t particularly smart or outgoing)

6.. Buy me stuff from small trinkets to tickets to shows.

The attention was really intense from 19-24, then started to level off at 24 after I married, and definitely has leveled off at 30.

Over time I realized that being considered pretty did have some pitfalls. It’s hard to be pretty.  It was hard to feel close to other women, there was a sense of competition from them and sometimes jealousy. It was also hard to know whether someone was being really generous out of the kindness of their heart or whether it came from a place of attraction. After a while, I just started to assume attraction was the motivation for male kindness; I had met too many men who held expectations in return.

Beauty is also fleeting. I always knew that and never had my self-esteem tied with my outward appearance. Now that I’m 30, it’s clear to me that my most beautiful days are behind me. Everyone in this world gets older; they get a little more tired, they get wrinkles and their hair starts to gray. And though good looks last only a while, it’s taught me to value my other qualities and aspects of my personality above my physical appearance.

Pretty privilege is a gift that you might’ve been given, no different from being born to the right family or in the right country. But just like any other opportunity, it’s what you make out of it that counts. And though it lasts only a short time, a lot can be done in those years you’re considered most beautiful. So consider your beauty a gift, whatever beauty you have, and seize the day to build a future ahead.

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Tags: How to be pretty, look pretty, how to be prettier, being gorgeous, you look pretty, pretty girl problems, pretty sucks, become gorgeous.