JORD watch giveaway

JORD watch
While I was sick I had to quit a lot of gigs. I left design teams, I returned products and money for posts I’d agreed to write, there were a whole lot of opportunities I had to let go of in order to get healthy. That’s hard on a whole number of levels. It’s hard to have your work suffer, it’s hard to feel like you’re burning bridges or letting people down, it’s hard to admit your limitations. Everyone was nice and understanding, but there was one company that went so far above and beyond that I have to brag about them at the same time I brag about their product.

Months ago, like maybe around Mother’s Day, the folks at JORD watches approached me about reviewing their product and hosting a giveaway. I went through my usual screening process, checking what the corporate values were, if the product was sustainable, and of course, whether I would actually spend my own money on the product. JORD is committed to using sustainable resources in the sourcing of their products, and when I first started learning about them they had just released a special watch design with proceedes going to the Pujols Family Foundation, a charity dedicated to those living with Down Syndrome and those in poverty in the Dominican Republic. The watches passed all my tests so I asked them to send me one that I could try out.

For real – it is indescribably gorgeous.

I love it. I truly love it. Wood is such a beautiful material that I love having something so fine to celebrate it. It’s not cold and it doesn’t trap my arm hairs like a metal band, but it also doesn’t sweat like a leather band. I wore this throughout a sweaty summer and felt just fine. It’s surprisingly light, and it’s so unique I get comments every time I wear it. It’s the best thing I’ve gotten in ages.


So even if all that happened was that I got a beautiful new watch I was totally besotted with and recommended it to you guys, it would be a successful partnership. But how the marketing manager I worked with treated me was what bumped this up from a post about showing off something pretty to an unqualified rave.

Like I said, everyone was nice. All the corporations wished me a speedy recovery, they all held doors open for me to come back, everyone was understanding and supportive. But they also have a job to do, so most of them went for the quickest resolution to our relationships. One company emailed me several times a week to make sure that we settled on square terms – not really easy for me to deal with when my health was such a concern, but never rude or unwarranted. JORD, however, just sent me support and well wishes and told me to take my time, they’d check back in around the holidays. They never suggested that I send the watch back – which would have broken my heart but they would have been well within their rights to do it. I never got an email that didn’t first address their support and concern for me, and by the way, could I just give them a timeline, and also, if they could do anything to help me they would.

I’ve worked corporate marketing jobs, so I know that one individual nice person can only go so far. That nice person has bosses with their own timelines and agendas. They want to know how their marketing budget is working out, where to put their future marketing dollars, and see some return on their investment. The fact that they set all that to the side, along with the concern that I’d never fulfill my agreement to them and just keep the watch with no marketing at all, meant that they prioritized respect for people over their business agenda.

How rarely does that happen?! As major chains make their employees come in on Thanksgiving, it’s getting harder and harder to find companies that make you feel like you’re putting your money in a good place. I’m so happy to recommend a company that makes a beautiful product made by good people.

wooden watch
And you can have one too! JORD has earmarked another of these beauties to give to one of my readers. Just leave a comment and I’ll pick a random winner on Black Friday. Good luck!

**Disclaimer** JORD gave me a watch to try but all thoughts and pictures and opinions are my own.

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Year of Pleasures: Unlikely Tomatoes

Green Tomatoes

I have a compost heap off to the side of the house, and since gardening and any kind of yard maitenance has been an absolute zero on my priority list, I never get over there.

So imagine my surprise when I finally found myself in that corner of the yard and found tomatoes growing out of the compost heap. Last years rotten tomatoes must have gone to seed and here in November I’m getting fresh grown tomatoes. It just feels symbolic.

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Developments for Atticus

AtticusCan

In keeping with this crappy year, I am not the only member of our family facing medical problems. For Atti’s whole life we’ve been watching his hips to see if they would be damaged by the tight spasticity of his muscles, and that time has come. His hamstrings are so tight that they’ve pulled one of his hips out of its socket. It’s so far out you can actually tell by looking at him when he’s crawling around pantsless. It’s like his own muscles are drawing and quartering him. Sorry. Gruesome, but you get the idea.

Eventually Atti will need a total hip reconstruction. But before that can happen they need to get the spasticity under control. It wouldn’t do to reconstruct his hip only to have the muscles pull it right back out of socket again. We did a test last month for a muscle relaxant for him and it went really well, so later this week we’ll have a final consult about what the plan will be before having a surgery to implant a pump into his abdomen.

The Baclofen pump works in the same way as an insulin pump. It’s implanted in the abdomen, just under the skin, with the medicine going into the spinal cord to avoid the side effects you’d get if the medicine went to the brain in large doses. The dosage is fine-tuned to get the best results for each patient, and more medicine is filled by injecting through the skin into portals in the device. I’ve heard all the miracle stories, and during the trial it was obvious that Atti was relieved from discomfort and pain he lives with as part of his normal. It’s all going to be a good thing.

And yet, this is grieving me like nothing else. The thought of him having this hockey puck sized protrusion from his sweet little tummy… the thought that it might hurt him if we play Bongo Belly like we have his whole life…his sweet smooth little belly scarred up…I’m just so deeply sad.

It’s kind of arbitrary the stuff that really gets to us. He’s had so so many surgeries. He has scars, he uses devices other kids don’t, he’s already “different”, but braces and scars never bothered me before. I don’t know why this one makes me so sad. I have scars on my face, on my feet, and a giant one on my own belly courtesy of Atticus himself, and I never even think of them. It’s part of being a human and they don’t trouble me in the slightest. But I guess this is the straw on the camels back. I’ve been brave and pragmatic about everything else. This one I’m just going to face weeping.

Compounding my grief about the implant is the knowledge that we are running out of time. His entourage always used to talk about his future with the worst case scenario being “IF” he doesn’t leave the chair. It was expected he would walk, anticipated, planned for. Now I’ve seen them all subtly shift to “IF” he walks. It’s still something we’re hoping for, working towards, but it’s become the long-shot. I tell the doctors and nurses and therapists that he’ll be seven in February and universally their faces fall as they cast worried glances at each other, wondering if they’re going to have to break me the news. They don’t. I understand. 8 years old is the benchmark. After that the pre-pubescent changes begin and there’s no keeping up with them. His growth plates are closing, and so is our window.

Living a whole life in a wheelchair is hardly the worst thing that could happen. With more wounded veterans in wheelchairs, maybe by the time Atti is grown there will be more accessibility, or even new devices. My Father-in-law is always talking about how one day they’ll implant microchips in our brains and disability will be a thing of the past. It cracks me up, but he’s not crazy. If Atti had been born ten years earlier he and I would both be dead, so who knows what developments will occur in between now and his independent adulthood.

But still. It’s hard to let go of dreams. It’s hard to let go of that vision in your head of your child in a jersey or on the track. To accept the fact that life will be harder for him. There will be places that will be inaccessible. That he will know pain and have his body scarred. But all those things have been true for me and I wouldn’t trade my life with anyone. In the future maybe he’ll have a microchip in his brain, maybe he’ll have one of those walking exoskeletons, maybe he’ll be part cyborg. I really don’t care as long as he gets to have the fulfilling, independent life that is my heart’s true dream for him. This surgery is the next step there.

Both to independence, and to being part cyborg.

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Here comes the sun

SunThroughClouds

Hiya friends. So, it’s been a little while.

I have gotten so many wonderful loving emails and FB messages and blog and youtube and instagram comments, you guys mean the world to me. Truly. Thank you for thinking of me and reaching out and caring.

This has been a really really really rough year. Which means it was the best possible time to go on massive fertility drugs. I’ve been on Lupron three times before without incident, but this time, hoo boy. Was quite different. For the last five months I’ve been spending all my energy on trying not to kill myself. I know that sounds so dramatic and shocking, but it was. And I feel the need to speak it plain like that because when I would ask for help people would often blink at me, terrified. No one knows what to say or how to help other than, “Please don’t do it.” But I didn’t *want* to do it, my brain was trying to kill me.

After five months of white knuckling, relying too much on stressed out terrified friends and family, and finally finding a psychiatrist in my area, I ended up starting an outpatient psychiatric program. For six weeks, five days a week, six hours a day I would sit in classes and group therapy while my meds were tweaked and reactions monitored. It really did save my life, because you know when you watch those pharmaceutical commercials and they talk about the huge list of problems it causes including thoughts of suicide and you think, woh, the cure sounds worse than the disease. That was true.

For some reason, this time on the Lupron I went into the deepest, darkest depression I’ve ever known. I was tortured with thoughts of needing – not wanting, I did not want it – to die. I would hold Atticus as long as he would let me and cry and cry and promise that I was going to be brave like him. I would move from the bed to the couch to the bed and count it as a good day because I made it through. My psychiatrist put me on some new medications, and day by day as I got further away from the drug that so affected me, I clawed my way out of that depression with a teaspoon. Slowly, slowly, slowly, I got better as the last Lupron shot ran its course. And as I got better we lowered the medications again until now I’m back where I started from.

Med changes are always hard. For a person with Bipolar Disorder the reactions can be unpredictable. Obviously, since three previous times on Lupron were a cakewalk and this time things all went kerflooey. It was really invaluable to have structure, support, professionals, and peers to rely on while the medications did their thing and we figured out what my brain needed to stop trying to end me. Turns out, it needed to not be on Lupron.

Before I go on, I don’t want to scare anyone. Lupron has been a miracle drug for me. If you need it I’d drive you to the doctor myself. It’s just that due to changes in my brain chemistry, I had an adverse reaction. It happens, it would happen for me again, but I’ll get to that. It probably won’t happen to you. This drug rescued me from disability on four separate occasions. It’s a good thing.

Four weeks into my treatment I started having shortness of breath. I thought it was anxiety, so I took more anti-anxiety medications. I developed a persistent cough, I thought it was seasonal allergies, so I took that stuff. I felt this ball in my throat like I was choking so I thought it was GERD and took antacids. Nope. That globus feeling – the feeling like something is stuck in your throat – became so intense I was gagging and dry-heaving. Turns out I was allergic to the new medicine too. A fraction of a percent of people develop swollen glands and shortness of breath, and guess who was lucky enough to be in that percentage. This gal! I’m a medical marvel! If there was an olympic sport in medical oddities, I would be Michael Phelps.

Luckily by the time the symptoms got so intense I couldn’t take the medicine anymore, I was doing really well on my own. I was far enough away from my last dose of Lupron that my moods were stable enough for me to stop the medicine causing the allergic reaction, and after a few more weeks taking things easy, regulating my sleep, and slowly resuming my activities, I’m feeling pretty much back to my typical self. I did it.

I’m so grateful for the people who support me, for having access to mental health care, for a family who could make sacrifices and pick up slack to help get me through, and I believe that the best way I can repay all of that is by first, taking care of myself, and second, being honest about my challenges to help remove the shame and stigma so many of us feel about our mental health struggles.

I’m an accomplished, successful person, and I also live with mental illness. The truth is that most of us do of one kind or another, and if we don’t then we are definitely touched by a loved one who lives with a mental health condition. It is a fact of our modern time. Our brains have not evolved to be able to deal with all the stimulus of our day. We have to stop being ashamed, stop hiding, and recognize that these are physical conditions.

I made it through, and if you are struggling, you can too. If you need help, there are people trained to help you. Please reach out.

1-800-273-8255
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

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Safe and Sound

Gizmo

We had a major scare and a miracle here this week. I’ve been hanging on by my fingernails, riding the hormonal roller coaster, and I’ve gotten into a bit of a rhythm. I’ve discovered that if I take a sleeping pill at 8 and then take a 2 hour bath, I can actually fall asleep […]

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Sprout

Sprout

This was my Mother’s Day present from Atti, and it’s a pretty fitting metaphor for what I’m up to right now. Remember when I talked about Therapeutic Boredom? And how being forced to slow down because of all the crazy hormones was forcing me to learn stuff? I had no idea. I work really really […]

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Monogrammed Button Bracelet

Button Bracelet

Mom’s Day crafts aren’t always simple. Sure, they’re not as hard as Father’s Day, but it’s still hard to strike the balance between honoring the holiday and making something that looks like a school project made by a Kindergartener. You could just make something pretty, or you could make something sentimental. Or you could make […]

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Atti goes Boom

Atti in the fountain

Atti and I were out running errands together, and like any six year old boy he was testing my patience. We were in Bath and Body Works picking up some presents for Bear’s staff, so I had him in his wheelchair and had the unenviable job of trying to shop, listen to saleswomen, keep an […]

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Singed Flower Headband

Headband

My organza flower tutorial is, still, one of the most popular things I’ve ever done on this site, and every time I see another link to it I chuckle to myself, remembering that it was a total accident and not what I intended to make at all. There’s little I love as much as a […]

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Seen Elsewhere

Quilt Inspired Bib Necklace

My slow down here at the blog doesn’t mean I haven’t been creating. I mentioned I’ve been working on my Master Bedroom, but I’ve also been working at a new gig as part of the Darice design team at Live.Craft.Love. It’s kind of a dream job. Every month I get to look through the extensive […]

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