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.

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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

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DIYs For Your Desk

Our city has swelled tremendously now that August is in full swing; school is back in session! I took part last week in a huge block party our town throws to welcome all the university students back. It was a blast, and the weather was so beautiful! Since then, I’ve had college on the brain. The school experience has changed and evolved in the last four years since I’ve been out, but one thing remains the same: dorms are bland. Which is great for us creatives! But, it makes it hard to focus on school work if you feel like you’re in a cinderblock prison. That’s one reason I always changed the look of my dorm, especially my desk area. The same goes for tiny apartments that have strict decor rules. Here are two easy DIY projects – a sparkly glass pen holder and a whimsical mini mobile – that I came up with to brighten up your desk!

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Don’t worry, these two projects are easy and cheap. You’ll need:

  • a jar (or clear plastic container)
  • craft wire
  • fabric or paper scraps
  • thread or string
  • paint
  • rubbing alcohol
Mini mobiles and metallic pen holder – just what the creative ordered!

Cute, Mini Mobile

To create the mobile, you’ll first want to find something circular (like the lamp in the photo!). Cut a piece of wire and wrap it around your shape to form a circle. Twist the ends together. Now for the fun part: using up those scraps! If you don’t have fabric, you can easily substitute paper. Simply take your fabric and tie ends around your wire circle. If you are using paper, just put a dab of glue on one end and wrap it around the wire. I braided some of the pieces together to create different weights and textures. To finish of your mobile, cut another piece of wire and wrap both ends around your circle. Tie a piece of string around the center wire and boom! You’re done! This took me maybe an hour…Star Trek is so addicting!

Metallic Pen Holder

This project is so easy it’s almost unbelievable. First, clean your jar, cup, plastic container, or whatever clear object you want to use. Once it’s all shiny and pretty, you’re going to dump in your paint. As you can see, I used gold and silver paint, but you can use any colors you want (like black and gold, eh Hornets?). Roll the jar around so the paint starts to spread. Now, you’re going to pour in a bit of rubbing alcohol. Add in around a tablespoon or so; remember, you can always add more, but too much is hard to remove. Swirl the rubbing alcohol and paint mixture around the jar for a couple of minutes or until you’ve achieved the look you’re going for. Let it sit for a minute or so, then gently rinse the excess mixture. I let my jar sit for a day before I dumped all my paintbrushes in.

Now, take dozens of photos of your newly decorated desk and show Mom that, yes, you are in fact loving every second of your new journey!


Now your desk should be just as bright and full of life as your new school year!

I’m curious: what’s your favorite memory from college, or if you’re just starting, what’s the thing you look forward to experiencing the most!?

Here’s to all of who are chasing your dreams in the classroom!

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Why Chronic Blogging Matters

For most of my adult life, I have led a compartmented lifestyle. My illness was like a terrible skeleton I had to stuff into a closet and lock away, never to speak of again (or at least not publically). Part of this response, I think, was driven by attitudes of medical professionals. But, I also dug a deep hole for myself by thinking I could manage everything on my own, without changing my lifestyle. I paid the price for my silence, though. My struggle stripped me of my identity, my self-respect, and my voice.

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That’s when I started blogging. Looking back now, it is the most important decision I have made with regards to how I live with my illness. Growing up in the ’90s, we all had Angelfire sites and Livejournal blogs, which is probably why I turned to the net as an avenue for coping. Besides my obsession with TMNT and YA fiction, my Tumblr account slowly started sporting graphics aimed towards the chronic community and before I knew it, I was sending emails all over the world. This powerfully positive experience leads me to believe that more chronic illness experiences need to be shared for three reasons:

  1. Self-Care, People! – The power of writing and sharing can be an enormously restorative practice.
  2. Building Support – Connecting with others and forming your support ring is key to living with your illness, rather than suffering through it.
  3. Fight for Your Rights – Illness needs a voice! Stereotypes keep us from sharing vital information that could lead to increased awareness and public action.

I’m by no means saying that this is easy. Talking openly about my illness has no doubt changed how some people perceive me. The positive and reaffirming conversations I’ve had, though, far outweigh the negatives. And, don’t think that this information isn’t beneficial to healthy people; no matter if you’re a friend, partner, caregiver, or a member of the medical profession, everyone can take something away from this post!


Not only is September Suicide Prevention month, but it is also Arnold Chiari Malformation Awareness Month!  Speak up and join the conversation on social media!


Read on to see how you can start blogging and making a difference!

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10 Lovely Things, #5

There’s been quite a bit of lovely floating around my neck of the woods lately. Sometimes it takes a while to see it, though. Just one reason I’m really enjoying sharing things that put a smile on my geeky face! Simply click the numerals to navigate the things I’m in love with right now!

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01. Everyone could use a friendly reminder that short people can be super feisty. We can also be sleepy and dopey, but mainly feisty.

02. Cake pillows, people, are a gift to mankind. Everyone should have one. Or ten.

03. If I knew that painting your hand would be so possible, I would have banked on every time my tweens decided to cover themselves in paint.

04. STAR TREK! There’s finally going to be good sci-fi on while The Expanse regroups. I may be a  *bit* excited.

05. I, like many, have struggled practically my whole adult life to come to terms with my curvy and well endowed body. The body positive message warms my adolescent heart, while JCPenney’s #HereIAm video shouts at me to love who I am now. Dress how you want, be who you are, and don’t give a flying f*** if anyone likes it.

06. And speaking of beautiful, if you’ve never visited Bri Emery over at designlovefest, then I’d highly suggest hopping to her download page. She shares designer created digital wallpaper that keeps my screen light, bright, and sparkly!

07. Check out the new addition to my sidebar: my current planner cover, which I change every Sunday, will now get it’s own spot to shine in! What’s the most unique topic or content you’ve seen in a sidebar?

08. Gratitude never goes out of style; I’m almost done with a super positive project that will hopefully bring smiles to more faces. Check out the link for ways you can pay it forward!

09. Of course, there’s a Pinterest share! Kelli Crowe’s board is just so gosh darn lovely. I always stop and like or save her pins; she’s got a sharp eye for design! Trust me, you’ll need to block an afternoon and just peruse all her boards.

10. What’s something that has made you happy over the past week? Share your inspiration in the comments!

Go Write Your Manifesto (and Live It, Too!)

This project proved to  be a lot more difficult than I thought it would be. It’s easy to name off things we like (like, Starbucks, for instance). But it’s another thing entirely to write out your core beliefs, and the things that make up your foundation. I do recommend this project, though. Knowing what you stand for, what things you think are the most important in life, is so  important. Follow along to see my final manifesto, and grab some tips I’m using to live my manifesto every day.

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