Fear, Danger, and Illness: What We Can Learn From One Astronaut’s Experience

“What’s the scariest thing you’ve ever done? Or another way to say is what’s the most dangerous thing you’ve ever done and why did you do it?”

That’s how Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield opens his TED Talk, during which he shares his harrowing tale of going temporarily blind while working outside the International Space Station. I don’t know about you, but I’d pee my pants. Space is terrifyingly awesome and the simple thought of being in such a situation makes my head spin. But, Hadfield made it through the entire extravehicular activity. How? He argues it’s because astronauts are drilled and trained to recognize the difference between perceived fear and danger.

I’d argue that illness has a similar effect. Most people can think about what it must be like to float weightlessly in space just as well as they can think about what it might be like to fall ill with something that you will never be cured of. It’s foreign, alien, and unknown. But, unlike finding yourself blind in space, illness can strike any family and any group of friends. It’s the big gorilla in every room that no one wants to ponder. Which is why Hadfield’s experience can help those facing illness tackle the fear they see in the mirror, and the danger lurking in their own DNA.


I don’t think that any sick person can say they are the same person before and after diagnosis. I’ve always battled anxiety, but my journey to finding out my brain is malformed changed me in so many ways, some I’ve yet to discover. Knowing that you will forever battle your body can be a hopeless kind of situation; I remember the moment I realized that there would be many nights where I could not feed myself, could not walk under my own power, and would have to make sacrifices that others can never understand. I spent a good, long while being afraid of every headache and doctor’s visit, of being alone, going without medication…of simply being afraid of everything. But, that’s not living. That’s wading and trudging, not living. This understanding is the line drawn between fear and danger

Continue reading “Fear, Danger, and Illness: What We Can Learn From One Astronaut’s Experience”


Sew Your Own Sock Rice Warmer

Migraines are my worst enemy; sufferers who live with neurological conditions usually struggle to find relief without turning to medications with incredible side effects. That’s why I love rice warmers, which are really to make anyway, but wait ’til you see this DIY…with socks!

A coworker and I were talking about our migraines; she has had them for a long time, and I’m always picking her brain about her path of self management. She uses herbs, teas, and super simple things like sock rice warmers to live a richer life. “My husband always has that one sock in a pair that has holes,” she explained, which I completely understand. Husband is hard on socks, and the creative in me hates throwing things out if I can repurpose them somehow. Read on to see how a sock can bring you hours of relief!

Sew Your OwnSock RiceWarmer

I’m not sure if I’ve ever come across any project that is as universal as rice warmers. No matter the season, they are perfect gifts for family and friends who have sore muscles, headaches, back pain, and the list goes on. I’ve made them in the past with colorful and comfortable fabrics, but socks are perfect for this. They are rather durable, soft, and the best part is that it limits the sewing you have to do!

I used a striped knee high sock to make my first rice warmer. To start, I cut off the toe end of the sock, turned it inside out, and stitched that end closed with embroidery thread. After turning it right side out, I slowly started adding rice until it reached the first white dotted line. I pinned closed the first pink segment of the sock and threaded it closed. That’s it. I repeated the pouring, pinning, and threading until I reached the last black segment at the top of the sock. I chose to leave the top unfilled and used a blanket stitch to close the end.

When I said it’s easy, I meant it’s really stinkin’ easy! You could personalize your rice warmer with dried herbs or oils like lavender. What sets this project apart from other rice warmers is how light it is, while maintaining structure. I have other warmers that go unused because they are just too heavy. But, the socks don’t need reinforced, they don’t burn because the weave of the material is more substantial, and they are machine washable! My coworker said she makes them in all sizes for her family, and said they are perfect for the freezer. I tossed mine in the freezer overnight and it helped an early morning headache today!

How’s your self-care Sunday, going? Spoonies, what’s your go to technique for finding relief?

Have a relaxing day, dears


What I Carry, Spoonie Edition

As a sick person, my bag is never “normal” by most standards. I carry things that mark me as a spoonie.

Years ago, I remember a trend that spread through Flickr called “What’s In My Bag.” People emptied their totes and briefcases and purses and satchels to document the things they carried on an average day. I was reminded of all those photos last night as I packed my bag before leaving work. thechroniccreative_whaticarryheader

As a sick person, my bag is never “normal” by most standards; I carry a lot of things that mark me as a spoonie. So, I decided to dump my bag out this morning, snap a picture, and share with everyone what I need on a day to day basis.

01. I carry this lovely tote bag I snagged fought for at PLA. I covered it in peach flower embroidery work, and a nice black and white thin stripe fabric liner. It’s sturdy canvas and machine washable. I’ve also started carrying a small leather purse. It helps me keep essentials separate from work things.

02. This manilla envelope holds only things which I need to carry from work to home. Currently, it holds my Fall programming schedule which I’m going to finalize today. I also write up my book orders at home, which is why I’ve been carrying this Book List edition around forever.

03.In the past, I have carried with me an extra dose of each medication I take. Now that the dosages are climbing, those meds stay at home. The only medicines I carry with me on a day-to-day basis are emergency items like Excedrin (both migraine and tension headache), Icy Hot, and my albuterol inhaler. Mints, my keys, and Lysol to-go are the things that go inside my purse.

04.My planner is the only thing that keeps me together. Massive short term memory loss means if I don’t write it down, I won’t remember. It’s got everything – Husband’s schedule, med pick up days, blog calendar, district calendars…everything. And the handy A5 size means I’m not struggling with a huge binder. The other “journal” I take with me is my “To Don’t” flipbook. Learning to say “no” is hard. This helps.

05. This little leather bound book is actually my wallet! I ripped out the guts of the book and sewed a zippered lining into it; it’s soft and malleable, and super lightweight. It also goes in my purse. My large pencil bag carries things I need on a regular basis for journaling or my on-the-go job. Scissors, pencils, erasers, a small 6 six ruler, pencil sharpener, two Sharpies, pens. You know, that kind of stuff.

06. Snacks are a must if I’m in flare mode. Two Excedrin doses makes me sick to my stomach, so I have to take it with at least a granola bar. Yesterday was Junk Food day at work, so I grabbed a bag of popcorn (it’s so good) to go along with my Cheez Its. I also store extra La Croix cans in my desk at work.

Keep in mind this is my Summer bag. What I carry changes when Hell freezes over and ice falls from the sky is radically different.

What do you carry with you every day? Spoonies, do you have one item or many that you rely on while on the go? Share in the comments or on social media!

Look forward to the big manifesto reveal tomorrow (fingers crossed!). If you’ve been following along, I’ll also have tips how I plan to live my manifesto every day!

Happy Friday!


Working While Ill: Tips To Get You Through Your Day

Life can a downright battle. Fighting your body every second of the day is difficult enough, but how do you get through a work day when all you want to do is collapse?

Very carefully, that’s how. The past five or so years since my diagnosis with Arnold Chiari Malformation Type I have led me to experiment with different methods in the hopes of finding relief. None of these tips unfortunately lead to some magical cure-all at the end of a bright, sparkly rainbow, they might help you get through a flare, though. Caregivers and awesome friends, put these suggestions in your back pocket (or care package!) for a rainy day.

*Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor. What works for one person won’t necessarily work for another. Just keep that in mind!



It might sound like a no brainer, but drinking water is important. Most of us have grasped this concept, but my neurologist suggested adding Gatorade into the mix. I’m telling you, this is probably the most helpful advice I’ve ever received from a doctor. I carry the single serving powder mixes with me, but you can drink it straight from the bottle, even freeze it as ice cubes (genius!).

For those with fibromyalgia, I also add a couple drops of liquid B12 to my water bottle before I leave for the day. This is something I’ve slacked off a bit on, but two flares back to back have me back on it.

Heat or Ice

From all the discussion I’ve had with other spoonies, it seems either heat or ice will help, but not both. Ice, for instance, makes my pain worse. But, a hot shower can relieve some of the pressure in my head so fast I’ve almost passed out in my shower. Unfortunately, showers and heat pads aren’t really conducive for a fast-paced library. That is where hand warmers come in! You can sew them or glue them, but these little packets of beans are very handy (get it!?). Pop these suckers in the microwave, and boom, instant travel sized heating pad. If cold is helpful, I would find a gel ice pack and make a cover for it in the same way the hand warmers are made. Put the pack in the freezer and keep the cover with you.

Continue reading “Working While Ill: Tips To Get You Through Your Day”

Pep Talk In a Jar

We all have one of those days where we carry our burdens around like our own personal rain cloud. And that cloud only makes it easier to beat ourselves up. I had one of those days yesterday. Husband and  I found out our apartment building is being demolished in less than a month. In a small college town, finding a place to call home can be frighteningly difficult.

cookie-jar-clip-art-free-clipart-imagesPull yourself out of this funk! Make yourself smile. Dance in your socks. There are tons of ways to change your mood by yourself!

Like, for instance, creating a Happy Jar.
Years ago, I worked at a high school library. I talked to more and more kids who were carrying so much stress around with them, it felt like they never got a break. I know what that feels like all too well! So, I started a Happy Jar that sat on my desk. At first, it was just my encouraging words, but when I left almost 5 years later, the kids were encouraging each other with tips like, “Listen to your favorite song and dance!”

You decide what goes in your “jar.” I have found that watching cute cat videos on YouTube can help me reset. Whatever you like to do, put that in your jar! Find some quotes that speak to you and carry those in your bag.

Pull yourself up, gorgeous, and dust yourself off. Today is another day!

Need help starting your jar? No problem! I’ve got ideas after the jump!

Continue reading “Pep Talk In a Jar”