Epilepsy Awareness Day: 10 Myths About Epilepsy That Even I Believed

In honor of Epilepsy Awareness Day on March 26 (tomorrow!) I created this post to highlight this condition. As many of you know, the posts I create can be about anything; networking advice, embarrassing stories, psychology topics, and accidentally launching black bean burger patties off a 6th floor balcony and almost hitting an old lady…I’ll stop at that. When it comes to health and awareness related posts I’ve written the past five years, it has been about Functional Neurological Disorder (FND). Well, the joke is on all of us, as the ONE thing I was told I for sure didn’t have all my life even after staying in the Epilepsy unit at Mayo Clinic is the ONE diagnosis that has been correct all along: Frontal Lobe Epilepsy. Don’t get me wrong, I am proud of the awareness I’ve created over the years for FND because it barely got any attention as is. But now, I am shifting gears in many ways; one being shifting awareness colors from orange and blue, to purple for Epilepsy. I’m also shifting to the mindset that I have a way to manage this now, therefore, have to keep up with my medications daily. I also have a concrete diagnosis I can finally tell people, and the fact I have been misdiagnosed for 14 years. Being misdiagnosed has left me with a lot of learning and catching up to do, including debunking the myths that even I believed about Epilepsy and disabilities in general. So now, it’s time to start creating awareness and learn about what the end of my long winded story looks like. I’ve prayed so long for an answer, and now that I finally have it, I don’t know how I feel. I’m not sure if I am happy yet, but the relief of having a name to the monster that has been moving me all these years is an odd feeling of freedom. Of course, I still have to deal with challenges, and maybe some more due to the potential stigma Epilepsy carries, so with that, here’s some common myths about Epilepsy. And, stay tuned for an announcement at the end!

Myth 1. Epilepsy is caused by looking at strobe lights

Let me set this straight right off the bat. A cause, and a trigger, are two important/very different words when it comes to Epilepsy. Yes, strobe lights are a trigger for some, but not a cause. And even so, strobe lights are not a trigger for all. I passed the strobe light test unfazed and with flying colors (no pun intended…maybe). My triggers have nothing to do with lights, but everything to do with stress, lack of sleep, sickness, and not getting exercise. The strobe light and Epilepsy connection is a stereotype that we see in the movies all the time. It is a stereotype just like blondes are thought to be dumb, tall people should play basketball, Kentuckians eat a lot of KFC (I can tell you first hand this is not true), etc. The word Epilepsy in itself carries a stereotype. When I mentioned my diagnosis above in my intro, what did your mind picture? Perhaps excessive shaking? Foaming mouth? Unconsciousness? It’s okay, a lot of people’s minds jump to that. But how about we just go ahead and start fresh; forget the fact that all Epilepsy is caused by the music video ‘All of the Lights” by Kanye (all y’all my age will know exactly what I am referring to).

Myth 2. There is one type of Epilepsy, and having a seizure means someone has Epilepsy

Fun fact: there are four types of Epilepsy, and each type includes different kinds of seizures. Wasn’t that fun? For Epilepsy to be considered Epilepsy, the electrical activity has to look a certain way in a pattern in the brain over and over- not just having a seizure. When people think of Epilepsy, most think of the seizures they see in Gray’s Anatomy where people are being rolled in on stretchers shaking uncontrollably. While some seizures do look like this, there are actually 40+ kinds of seizures, not just one. Don’t get seizures mixed up with Epilepsy. The kind of Epilepsy I have is Focal Onset Epilepsy of the Frontal Lobe. This is fancy talk for “it starts in one side of my brain in the frontal lobe, but can spread to both sides of the brain.” It was found after a 24 hour EEG where, thankfully, both kinds of my seizures were captured and all the pieces were finally put together. The rareness of both of these seizures happening in one night is incredible since I can’t manifest them to happen. It was worth looking like I was wearing a fruit bowl on my head. Again, there are so many stereotypes around seizures, and that every seizure looks the same. The four kinds of Epilepsy are as follows: Focal Epilepsy, Generalized Epilepsy, Combined Generalized & Focal Epilepsy, and Unknown. It can get pretty confusing even trying to wrap my head around the fact that I have one kind of Epilepsy, but I have two kinds of seizures: focal seizures (fully conscious and only on one side of my body), and Grand Mal seizures (unconscious, and the kind you see in Gray’s Anatomy). That last part may not be helping my point I am trying to make that not all seizures are Grand Mal even though they are the most common in adults, but bottom line, seizures are not always Epileptic activity, and Epilepsy contains many kinds of seizures!

Myth 3. People with Epilepsy are disabled

On paper, yes it is a disability, but let me remind you that before I found out I had Epilepsy for over a decade, the literal day before that, it was believed I did not have a disability all this time, therefore, carried no potential stigma. Before I found out about this diagnosis I’ve also held a full time job since graduation and am in a program created for the top 5% of consultants at my company. I thrived in college by being president of the psychology honor society, I’m in the Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society, Order of Omega Honor Society, held internships in the summers, was on the Varsity Gymnastics Team in college, and a lot of other things that I honestly don’t remember what those cords are for anymore. In high school I was in the National Honor Society, and served as Captain of the gymnastics team for two years. I also did competitive club/high school gymnastics for more than half my life which included flips on beams/swinging on bars 9 feet off the ground/hurling myself in the air off stationary objects; all while not having any treatment because I truly had no clue I had this condition. So I don’t know about you, but I am just one great example of how not all Epileptics are physically or mentally disabled. This wasn’t meant as a brag fest, I just wanted to bring attention to the fact that abilities are definitely not dampened with Epilepsy without treatment. Fun fact: Prince, Elton John, Neil Young and Lil Wayne are just a few celebrities with Epilepsy (that fact may have been a little more fun than the other one).

I want to pause and recognize that this is not the case for everyone and their families. I am truly blessed that I don’t have the kind of Epilepsy that leaves me in a spot where I didn’t have the ability to achieve what I have. But I also know that those who are disabled with this condition can often be the face of Epilepsy, and those who are uneducated about it put everyone in the same boat when really, we should be in many different kinds of boats (can I be on a pontoon at sunset, please?). Epilepsy may be called a disability, but it doesn’t play out like one for a lot of people, including me. Sure, my road to where I have gotten now hasn’t been easy and hasn’t been traditional in some cases, but as I’ve said in past posts, I can do what everyone else can, it may just take me a different route to get there. If anything, the minor inconveniences that I have run into regarding my health have revealed a lot of true colors in people and situations. So the next time you hear someone has Epilepsy, don’t be quick to form a picture in your head, because the picture I form in my head post diagnosis is still one of me flipping on a four inch piece of wood the width of your phone (I know you just looked at it now), being a high performer at work, trying to be a good fiance by cooking but butchering the whole thing in the process…and that’s not going to change now that I have a diagnosis. Although, I wish the fact that I now have a diagnosis could change my cooking skills.

Myth 4. Epilepsy can’t be managed once you have it

This was one of the myths that I believed until I learned otherwise. The sad part is that I had to learn it by being diagnosed myself. This is why I speak up about things when I could be silent, because I strive for others to know about Epilepsy just how people know to take Ibuprofen for a headache, an antihistamine for allergies, or a laxative for constipation…yeah that’s right, let’s get comfortable talking about the uncomfortable! If anything, compared to talking about constipation, Epilepsy isn’t the uncomfortable subject here..I digress. First, Epilepsy cannot be cured (yet), but it certainly can be managed! Just like everyone has to manage their health/weight the rest of their lives otherwise they don’t feel great, this is kind of what it is like to have Epilepsy. It is an ongoing effort, but is ok if managed correctly. Thankfully I have been put on some medications that have helped with the seizures which has allowed me to sleep like “a normal person” after 14 years of being scared to sleep at night and doing everything in my power to stay awake all night out of fear. Sure, the side effects aren’t great at the moment, and until I find the right levels for my body I am currently wondering if there were sloth genes in the Casey family tree at some point. I’m also praying that my skin will stop looking like the sunburnt version of Uncle Fester, but once that is all figured out, I will forget that I even have Epilepsy (just like if you manage your health and eat enough fiber, you won’t need any laxatives and forget about intestinal discomfort!) I couldn’t end this paragraph without circling back to that, you all should know me by now.

Myth 5. Those who have Epilepsy should keep it to themselves for protection

Epilepsy is a hidden disability a lot of the times- mine primarily happens while I sleep at night unless I run into one of my triggers during the day, or don’t do my practices to manage it. This gives me the ability to hide it easily, which I did for years out of embarrassment that I couldn’t control my body, not out of the chance that others would potentially treat me differently. The thought of being treated differently never crossed my mind, and honestly, never has. To me I’m just Lauren, and maybe that is naive to say, but I will always be “just Lauren,” because I know what I bring to the table outweighs all this. While some believe that the need to keep something like this hidden is true, I fully believe there is no reason to keep it hidden. The word disability comes with a lot of stigma, and it is true that some types of Epilepsy require tapping into disability advantages. I bet you some people don’t take advantage of those and suffer because they don’t want anyone to find out. But as we learned there are some types, like mine, that should more be classified as adversity, or more like an annoyance to be completely honest. Why can’t those be categories? And who hasn’t experienced adversity or annoyances in their lives? As I’ve said in previous FND posts, the adversity I have endured is what has made me into the resilient, strong, faithful, and persistent employee/consultant/significant other/athlete that I am. I’ve had some clients tell me (pre Epilepsy) that I should look into accommodations, needed a doctor’s notes as proof, or to take Long Term Disability when that would not help me at all. I just need understanding that not every day is always the same for me, but that doesn’t change my work ethic or quality! This is why I don’t hide what has made me who I am regardless of the risk I know I run due to other people’s unconscious or conscious biases. I don’t identify as disabled even though I now have to check a little box on a piece of paper that tells me I am. It bugs me that so many people let the fact that a little spot of ink in a box dictate what they think about a person, a candidate, their brain or body, etc, without even meeting them. So with that, I will not keep my invisible disability, invisible. Epilepsy will not be cured or known if its name is not said out loud, or if no one normalizes that it doesn’t aways change people’s abilities! Maybe it will affect how others view me now, maybe it won’t, but if it does, why would I want to work for them? Be friends with them? Epilepsy/all the other diagnoses I had before have been quite the weed whacker all these years in the best way possible. I was not silent when I didn’t have a disability, and I will not be silent now that I do. If only I could transfer the weed whacking capabilities to my front yard.

Myth 6. Epilepsy medications are dangerous

So maybe they do make me look a version of Uncle Fester at the moment that causes everyone at the gym look at me weird…but that’s just temporary…I hope. Epilepsy medications have come a long way. I actually was put on the same medication in 5th grade when the doctor suspected I may be having focal seizures the first night I ever had a “spell” as I used to call them. (That’s the picture on the right if you didn’t figure that out yet…I have aged a bit since then). If only the rest of the doctors trusted their gut, it would have saved me all this time (but hey, I wouldn’t have all this great material to write a book about how an alpaca farm changed my life). When I was told I was going back on the same medication, I was terrified I would turn into the shell of myself that I was back in 5th grade. I immediately had a lump in my throat as I started to have flashbacks of my dad pulling me aside during practice to administer the nasty liquid medicine that I utilized Kix cereal as a chaser for the taste, and remembered it made me super tired and weak. I’ve realized that medications truly do improve, and Epilepsy research has come a long way. While it still has a ways to go considering it took them so long to find mine (deep in the brain = hard to uncover). My liver appreciates the progress of going through the kidneys now!

Myth 7. Those with Epilepsy can’t live a full life

This one just irks me whenever this stigma comes up, or I see posts about Epilepsy being such an intrusion. As the great Hannah Montana once said: “life is what you make it, so let’s make it rock.” The fact that I now have a label to all this madness isn’t about to change anything about me or my future. For example, I could take the label off a container of M&Ms or *insert your favorite sweet of choice,* and that would not change the taste of them at all. As mentioned before, I am just one form of proof that Epilepsy doesn’t have to impose on dreams, goals, abilities, love life, sports, etc. I didn’t just wake up the day after being diagnosed and no longer was able to do a cartwheel, couldn’t pull Tableau reports, or change the fact I’m getting married soon. A lot of people let labels get to their heads, and that is what self sabotages their mindset. When one starts to let their condition control them and the beliefs about themselves, that is when it consumes them mentally and physically, and that’s when it is easy to feel down. Of course I have my down days, but that’s when I stop and remember all I have done, who I am, and all the little things I am grateful for. I for one, will not let a label tell me what I can or can’t do. I mean look at boxes of Girl Scout cookies. They have labels, and Samoas and Tagalongs (no, no, it is not Caramel deLites or Peanut Butter Patties) are some of the best labeled cookies I know – sorry Thin Mint people.

Myth 8. All Epilepsy is caused by structural issues in the brain

Due to the number of MRIs I have gotten in the past looking for issues, and always passing the “no structural damage test”- this said myth is not the case. My Epilepsy most likely stems from the tick that bit me when I was six, and the unknown infection that had a grand old time running around my brain like it was the playground in McDonalds unsupervised. In case you all thought I’d go a whole post without addressing the whole “I found out after visiting an alpaca farm that I’ve had Lyme Disease for 16 years” thing, you thought wrong. Yes, this is all most likely still Lyme related, which gives me even more reason to tell everyone to watch for ticks whenever they mention forests, camping, long grass, or really just going outside. But Epilepsy can stem from much more than structural problems and stupid tick bites, in fact, sometimes the cause of Epilepsy can be fully unknown. While the underlying cause can be fixed sometimes, unfortunately, once the Epilepsy “light switch” has been turned on, it can’t be turned off again.

Myth 9. Epilepsy damages the brain the longer you have it

I’ve heard a few times, and thought myself, that Epilepsy will eventually cause damage to the brain. You’d think that as a Psychology Graduate I’d learn SOMETHING about Epilepsy throughout the four years I studied the brain, but nope! The part that has some truth to that is if Grand Mal seizures are not managed, they can be hard on the brain, but as I have myth-busted, there is a way to manage seizures to prevent that. The last MRI I had was last February after having a Grand Mal seizure, and guess how it came back? Perfectly fine- no damage or sign of a seizure. I will admit, I still have a lot to learn about Epilepsy, and maybe the small number of Grand Mal seizures that I have had in my life compared to some people doesn’t reveal the significant damage they can cause to the brain. I started having Grand Mal seizures after my Lyme Disease came out of its dormant state in 2020 post alpaca farm (PAF), and have had probably around a dozen in my lifetime. I won’t say much more on this topic because I still am so premature in my knowledge, and just goes to show that the public, and even someone with neurological issues for more than half my life doesn’t even know much about this condition!

Myth 10. Seizure protocol

Look, I know that people have the best intentions with this, but there is just some information out there that is flat out wrong. First, do not put anything in their mouth to prevent tongue biting. You go try and put something in your mouth right now and try to breathe or swallow. It is like trying to swallow at the dentist when they have their hands in your mouth, aka, it’s not that easy while conscious, so why would an unconscious person want that? Also, not all people go unconscious while having a seizure. Since most of my seizures are focal and I stay conscious, please, don’t stuff one of my good dish towels with the cute dog pattern in my mouth when I am still fully conscious. The only part that changes about me is the fact that my left side now looks like one of those blow up people that flail around at car dealerships. Second, don’t restrain the person. This can make it worse, and stress the person, brain, and nervous system even more. A seizure is actually a very “put together” process and the brain and nervous system know what they are doing to protect the brain as weird as it sounds. Lastly, I know I have been talking about myths this whole time, but I want to address a common protocol that is not wrong– turning someone on their side! The reason for this is because sometimes seizures can cause the person to vomit. Truthfully, this has happened to me while alone, and I did not have someone there to turn me. It was probably one of the scariest moments of my life to become conscious again struggling to breathe. Becoming conscious again and waking up are a whole different scary ballgame. I also was not able to use my limbs to grab my phone and call for help, speak, or move myself because after a Grand Mal seizure, it can take a few minutes for the brain and body to communicate with each other again. If I didn’t “come to” when I did, it would have been a lot worse. Did I need to include this graphic scene? No, but it just emphasized that this can happen to anyone, and knowing seizure protocol can save someone’s life. Well, that got heavy, so let’s end this point with a joke shall we? What do computers do to de-stress after work? They go to the bar and take screen shots…cheesy right? Alright, hopefully that lightened the mood a bit.

Well folks, this is my first Epilepsy Awareness Day while knowing I have Epilepsy, and I hope next year I am able to share even more information with you…(and hopefully am not sharing a new diagnosis). I finally believe that this truly is the end of my story, one that I know a lot of you have been invested in, too. I simply cannot thank you enough for all the support and encouragement that I have received all these years. It means more to me than you know and has kept me fired up to keep going and to trust there was an end. Lastly, my love for lighting up bridges has not ended, it has just spread! Check out the Lowry Avenue Bridge glowing purple TOMORROW, and the St. Anthony Bridge lit up purple MONDAY (3/27) for Epilepsy!


10 Wedding Planning Tips from a Process Optimization Consultant

A lot of girls have been imagining their wedding day since they were little; what ring they wanted, their dream dress, the venue, and even down to what kind of cake they wanted so they could save the top of it in the freezer but never eat it again. Well I am here to tell you, that I myself, am in fact, not one of those girls. The time that most girls spent fawning over Pinterest wedding ideas, I was thinking about trying not to butcher my ankles at my gymnastics meet that afternoon, or getting my current crush to smile at me on campus as he walked through the Lund Center hallway while I was all sweaty on the elliptical (probably why I didn’t meet my future hubby in college if that was my tactic). So here I am in March 2022, sitting at the starting line of the marathon I was about to run entitled “Planning a Wedding,” and I really had no clue where to start since high school/college Lauren didn’t care to help me out at all… but then it hit me! Wedding planning is so similar to a project at work!

For those of you that don’t know, my day job is not sitting at Starbucks blogging the day away, but rather, a Senior Process Optimization Project Management Consultant at a company called Turnberry Solutions. In easier terms: I am put on projects at different fortune 500 clients to manage tasks, help change occur, coordinate change, maintain project statuses, find ways to make processes easier, and send memes in the team group chat when I think people could use the addition of a dancing elephant to their afternoon. As I started wedding planning, I kept waiting for the hair pulling stress, dreams of eloping, and fights about what dessert I’d be smashing into my husband’s face to wash over me….but the feeling never came (although I know I still am not done planning yet, I’ll check back with ya on that after it is all said and done). Treating wedding planning like I do my projects at work has made a world of difference, and I realized that the average bride probably isn’t using the tips and methodologies that I have been! It’s all about managing tasks, keeping track of projects, and reviewing backlog items. There are so many parallels between the process of wedding planning, psychology, organizational change management, and IT projects; so why not expose my nerdiness to the world to help prevent future brides and grooms from creating WW3 over whether or not to have wedding favors?

Make a Kanban Board

This has got to be my all time favorite resource, and the greatest thing? All you need is some tape and tacks – no this is not a torture device, if anything it is preventing you from torture. For all my type A list makers and visual people out there, this will be right up your alley. Kanban is a resource often used in the agile methodology space. Agile means managing several ongoing project tasks all at once versus the Waterfall methodology which is completing one task, and then moving on to the next, it is much slower, and just like the song, don’t go chasin’ waterfall methodologies if you want fast paced planning. While a checklist is still a way to keep you organized, it doesn’t show you where you are progress wise. It’s like if a stoplight had only red and green- you’d have absolutely no in between and that just leads to a fast crash and burn. A Kanban board is made by making three sections; to do, doing, done (yes, that is it, not all Project Management nerdy things are complex). From here, you create your backlog items aka all your outstanding tasks. There are online Kanban platforms such as Azure or Jira/Jira Align which I currently am using at my client to manage 2,000+ projects, but I personally like the old fashioned actual board that I can touch and physically move tasks around. Why? Because it is so much more satisfying to take a sticky note off my “done” part of the board, rip it into a million little pieces especially if it was a monster task, and throw it in the trash.

Identify and Prioritize Key Stakeholders

Stakeholders in the wedding world translates mostly to vendors and those involved in the wedding. In project management, just like a wedding, it is important to know what external parties need to be involved, what they are doing, and when to get them involved. The first order of business after getting engaged is to lock down where to get married, because if there is no venue, your other vendors probably won’t accept the answer of “we will be getting married in a building or a barn somewhere” when they ask where the wedding is. And if you can’t secure the other vendors early? Good luck my friend. Because of this anxiety of not finding any available vendors, you bet I booked my venue and officiant within the first week of being engaged. In a project, there needs to be a foundation in which the details can be built off of- the same goes for planning a wedding. It may seem obvious, but with all the vendors involved, it can be hard to know which ones need to be booked first due to the logical order of things, but the hardest part is finding vendors that are available! In project management, it is easy to set a deadline, and you may not think there are actual deadlines in wedding vendor planning, but I can assure you there are unsaid deadlines! I found out real quick which vendors get booked so far in advance that you might as well be committing to them as much as you are your future spouse. While all weddings are different depending on where it takes place, when, and what stakeholders are involved…my advice? Book vendors in order of the number of options you have. Didn’t land your first option photographer? That’s ok, there’s A TON of great photographers out there, so leave that towards the bottom of the list. Want your pastor to marry you? Don’t wait to book them last because you cannot clone your pastor if they are booked already (although mine is an identical twin…I guess that could work in a bind?) Using these agile practices will eliminate the need for a full wedding planner and save you money! (But a partial planner is a must if you have no clue what the heck you’re doing when it comes to small details like me).

Identify Your Budget and Scope

I know, I know, this is never the fun part. Life would be so much easier if we could spend endless amounts of cash on projects at work to get the latest and greatest new hardware to deploy to all employees. Same with weddings- so much stress would be released if we could just get ALL the customized cookies to accompany the custom ice sculpture that would be sitting next to the unicorn in the corner. But the biggest piece of advice here, just like any budget, is to create it first (have a rough idea going into booking the venue). Identify the bare necessities and the scope, then subtract those from the budget to see what you have left over on the “fluff stuff.” For example: wedding dress, suits, food, wedding bands, your grandma on the guest list, music, and venue are necessities. Wedding favors, neon last name signs, butter formed into little hearts, personalized M&Ms, your parents’ old neighbor’s babysitter, and horse drawn carriages are not a necessity. Scope in project management basically translates to a border that shall not be crossed. Just like in wedding planning, it can be super easy to justify just one little thing over budget. But then you do it again. And again. This happens in projects, too- it is called Scope Creep; allowing just one more task to be added to the next sprint. Never ever make your budget after all is said and done because you will then have to spend your time changing everything you already did to make your total wedding cost be less than four years of a college tuition. Whatever your wedding budget may be, follow the golden rule of “thou shall not change thy budget for anything, thou shall change anything to keep the budget.” The budget is more of a decision maker than you think, this also spills over to people. It really makes you dig deep and evaluate all your friendships! Not to put a cost on relationships, but when it comes to weddings, every penny counts especially as a newlywed couple trying to pay for a new house and a honeymoon and probably the new dog you just got together, too. Bottom line? Be ok with sacrificing some things, I promise you will make do and get over it the fact that you didn’t get the dream pair of shoes that no one would see under your dress anyways!

Build an Effective Team

In Project Management, your team makes or breaks a project. This goes for the skills they bring, but also if they are genuinely good people with personalities you like to be around! In a wedding, your team is your bridesmaids/groomsman, and the same stands true here, too. Your team is beside you through all the highs, lows, ages, stages, planning, project sprints, celebrations, and ideally your life long term. Just like a project is sustained by your team, your wedding will forever live on in your memory, so you better build a good team so those memories will be all positive. I have come to find that when it came to choosing team bride, it’s not as simple as I thought it would be since friendships changed so much post high school and college. Choosing a team in project management involves a lot of logic, but so does choosing your wedding team (along with some feelings, too). What if your childhood BFF moved to a different state and is in a very intense year of medical school? Probably not the best choice for either of you to task them with planning a bachelorette weekend when they’d be better off studying on how to cure cancer or Lyme Disease! Are the people you are considering all across the country? Who is actually going to be in your life years down the road? Does the person you have in mind from high school actually consider you as their friend still or is it a one way street now? Who can you trust to manage tasks and hit deadlines? Who knows that you will break out into dance when a certain song is played? There’s a reason that bridesmaids and groomsmen proposals are a thing now, and it’s because you are legit asking them if they are up for the job, not just a cute Instagram story and a way to ice your buddy. I’ve been so blessed in this season of life to have my gal pal beside me, both recent and long time friends, that I know will hold my dress when I have to pee!

Utilize People with Multiple Skills

From my own personal experience, those that have a wide array of skills are the most useful in projects- not just the ones with 10+ years of experience in one area only. When I am presented to a new client, I am portrayed as an IT Process Optimization Consultant…and while that is true, it also is limiting what else I can bring to the table for the client! What goes unseen is the fact that I have been a project coordinator, taught a chat bot the knowledge it would spit out to a whole company, have a personal blog and know WordPress pretty dang well, have been a HR generalist, serve as an IT portfolio delivery coordinator, lead a group of high school girls at church every Wednesday, have an unofficial degree in Lyme Disease and all things gut health because I read books on parasites and spirochetes for fun, or lead the Wellness and Disability employee resource group at my company….all stemming from a Psychology degree which in itself helps me so much in the workplace. A lot of people also have so many hidden talents and skills that go unsaid! All my skills have allowed me to bring new shortcuts to projects, and that is ultimately the goal in wedding planning too; find shortcuts. Find a venue with in house catering. Find a planner that also does florals. Is a friend a videographer? Perfect. Does one person do hair AND makeup? Amazing, less vendors to coordinate! While there is nothing wrong with using people that specialize in one thing, why not make it easier on yourself and use someone with multiple talents? But I will say…while my brother is ordained, I will not be using that shortcut, sorry bro.

Make a Milestone Status Timeline

Repeat after me: “I will make a timeline for tasks/milestones.” If you don’t, that is where the stress will hit you like a ton of bricks when you realize that your dress alterations should have been started 8 months out rather than 3. I currently have a checklist for each month leading up to the wedding with what tasks need to be done 10 months out, 5 months out, 1 week out etc…These checklists are easy to find on Pinterest- but they can still be super overwhelming because checklists are very black and white and don’t tell you where you are at or how you are doing. In project management, we add some color to those tasks- and I mean this literally- because it makes things a lot easier to manage visually. Red= task is past deadline. Yellow= task is at risk of passing deadline. Green= task is on track to hit deadline. Doing it this way makes it easy to see what you need to spend your time on in order to get you back on track again.

Identify Waste

In the project management world, this means identifying things that can be eliminated and everything still runs smoothly, or even more effectively, in the sake of time and cost. Think of it like Jenga- what parts of your wedding can be taken out and the wedding will be more efficient or still function smoothly? Some ideas here could be eliminating giving everyone favors (the favors that end up in the trash half the time- actual waste in this case). Have the bridesmaids do their own makeup, most are really good at it and don’t need the professional help anyways. Rule out the throwing of seed or rice or whatever other food item of your choice you’re going to run through in a tunnel of loved ones at the send off that someone else will spend more time cleaning up than it took for you to run through. Do you really need flowers for the ceremony AND the reception? How about take the flowers from the ceremony and use them at the reception too! Is offering the highest tier of alcohol really necessary or will people be ok with some free Coors since after a few they won’t taste the difference? Do you need 2,527 pictures of just the rings on your hands that don’t ever get used? Save time by taking more shots with your family members. Can your personal attendant or ushers go pick up a sack of bagels for breakfast rather than the fancy catered breakfast at the venue? And finally, as Marie Condo would say, will that overly expensive cake topper bring you joy a few years down the road? You get the idea; some things just aren’t worth it, and find out what those things are to YOU- not your mom, not your mother in law, not your maid of honor, not your groomsman, not your dog, or anyone else.

Identify the Most Effective Communication Channel for You and Others

This is for all y’all that have 5 email accounts, 3 computers, 37 group chats, and 100+ documents on your desktop. For my project team, we all know that Microsoft Teams chat or texting each other is the best way to get ahold of each other, not email chains. The same goes for your wedding vendors and wedding party. First, make sure you are using the same email address to contact your vendors, (you may even want to create a brand new email address just for wedding stuff). I can’t imagine the nightmare of trying to remember which email account emailed who. Some vendors are more responsive to texts, so do that if they prefer! Is your wedding party all iPhone users? Make that group message early! But if there is that one Android person….Facebook messenger or GroupMe is your friend, heck even Snapchat group messaging will work if you’ve got a some folks that are too young for Facebook now. Second, make a “Wedding” folder in your email inbox and make sure that any and all emails go into that folder so you can go back and easily find the email from your makeup artist (especially the men, jk..unless you’re into that). Wedding stuff is planned so far in advance, and often times vendors tell you to not contact them again to set up tastings, trials, fittings etc. until a few months before your day. I already have had to go back to the original email my band sent me back in April to add songs to the “absoutely do not play list.” Sorry folks, no YMCA on my day.

Documentation is Everything

I have no big insightful reason to do this, but just like HR documents must be kept several years before shredding; just do that with all your confirmations, documents signed, receipts, etc. You never know when you’re going to need to know how much it costs you to be short, aka, what the cost is to hem a dress or suit because being short costs a lot more than you’d think.

Identify Customers

In project management, clients and customers are who we are trying to please with our product or services. In wedding world, this is all your guests! Luckily, the wedding guest list should be a lot less crabby than work world customers. That being said, who you want there is a lot harder to identify than you’d think, so ask yourself these things to narrow it down. Who do you actually want to receive your end product and who will see the value in it (your celebration and the importance of the day?) Who do you actually want there to build you up? Who still puts in the time for you and will for your day? Identify guests that will be there for you in the future, or have made a lasting impact on you in the past. Wedding planning has opened my eyes so much to who actually values our relationship still, who still puts in effort, and who has made such an impact on me in the past that I want them there. Not everyone can say their Kindergarten teacher is coming to their wedding!

Well folks, there’s a little bit of insight into how my mind and project management world works. You may use some of it, none of it, or all of it, but I hope that this was at least somewhat relatable, and entertaining…as entertaining as kanban boards and methodologies can be right? Wedding planning is not as scary as it looks, it all just takes the right way to prepare and plan. You don’t need to be an expert, and so far it has worked for me which has created room for the season of engagement to be a season of enjoyment with the man I love so much! Remember the reason for a wedding- some can get so caught up in the process of planning that they forget that they even have a fiance!

Happy Tuesday, may your wedding planning, or being in the life of someone planning a wedding, be a little less dreadful!


10 Favorite Practical Gifts to Give

In case you didn’t know by all the blow up Santas everywhere, it’s Christmas. You’d think that the season of joy and peace would actually bring people joy and peace, but it is quite the opposite for a lot of people! Between having to figure out travel plans, coordinating who is going to bring what to Christmas dinner, figuring out how to wrap a present so it doesn’t look like a Christopher Casey wrap job (it is bad, folks), and getting the string lights to work on the tree that seem to have a strand out every single year….there’s the ginormous task of getting gifts for everyone! I actually enjoy this part and have been told I’m a “good gift giver” (I have no clue what the definition of that is, but I embrace the title), so I thought I’d share my go-to practical gifts for when I ask someone what they want for Christmas and the response is “nothing.” My goal when I give gifts is that it will actually get used, is something unique, or even better, is something unique that will get used. Hopefully this can help you out a bit so you don’t end up like my dad when he got my mom clothes in a size XL for their first Christmas as a married couple (to all the guys out there, I advise against getting your lady clothes that are 4-5 sizes too big, it sends a bad message).

1. Shower Steamers

This is the perfect gift for all the people that shower in your life, which hopefully is everyone. You wouldn’t think that you’d have the need to spice up your shower time at all since it is just one of those tasks you do without even thinking about it, but showers can be turned into more than just an everyday act without the occasional excitement of getting shampoo in your eye. I got these for a gift one time and I enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I would! I have never been much of a bath bomb person, but shower steamers changed the game for me. I love to use these after dumpster fire work days, or when I am so stressed out that I can’t seem to snap out of a bad mood. Adding a little excitement to something so mundane can be a good pick me up, and change in routine. The pack that I like comes with six different scents; each one having a purpose such as relaxation-peonies & pear, immune system support-orange, stress relief- Eucalyptus & mint etc. Do they actually do what they say they do? Maybe, probably not, it is most likely the Placebo Effect which is 100% effective for me in this case and I am ok with that. While they may seem a little girly, I can assure you the men in your life would appreciate these too even though they won’t dare show it upon opening them. A little added bonus is once you take a fizzie out of the container, a hidden message is revealed, because nothing makes you feel better after a terrible day like a piece of cardboard telling you that you are beautiful. Get them here !

2. Stasher Bags + Homemade Treat

I don’t know if this is a widespread phenomenon, but whenever I give something environmentally friendly to someone, they seem to love it. Additionally, whenever I give something I made to someone, they seem to love it. So why not put them both together? I present to you, Stasher bag + a homemade treat! If I were to take away the environmentally friendly and homemade part, this would equate to a Ziploc bag filled with store bought Chips Ahoy (maybe I should try that this year as an experiment and see the reaction). I personally have every size Stasher bag and I use them so much! They can be put in the freezer, microwave, fridge, are dishwasher friendly, and have saved me so much money from not buying Ziplocs that I use once and throw away because there’s a single crumb in it. Just like I am sure you know at least one person that showers in your life that might like the shower steamers, I bet you know at least one person that uses Ziploc bags, too. While I could just gift someone a lovely silicone bag, I like to make it a little more exciting by filling it with a homemade treat, and my go to are these “buttons” that people have come to know are my go-to because I can manage not burning them. Practical, easy, and probably won’t sit in their closet for years on end because baked goods don’t belong in there. Get them here !

3. Corn Bags

A bag of corn is the perfect gift for everyone. Yup, that’s right. My mom got me and my brother a therapy corn bag from a local Keep in Touch Massage years ago, and I now have 5 in total, in multiple sizes. Being a gymnast growing up, these were perfect for my sore muscles, but also my injuries since they can be thrown in the freezer and can double as an ice pack. Since then, I probably use them for everything but my injuries. Zach will tell you that I carry my corn bags with me all over the place since I am chronically cold. I love to cuddle up with mine while watching movies, or throw them in bed with me during the winter when blankets just aren’t doing it for me. I don’t know what your mind is imagining right now as to what they look like, hopefully not the freezer corn bags at the grocery store, but these come in all different fabrics, and designs! There are designs for all the dog lovers, sports lovers, beer lovers, and there’s even one for the Packer lovers. Find them at Keep in Touch Massage, or the actual Warm Hugs website here.

4. Useful Things with Your Face on it

As funny as it would be to just not explain what I mean by this one, I will provide an explanation, as it is one of my favorite things to give people. While this may not be the right gift to give for you (it takes the same cheesy sense of humor as me), it is still a viable option! Years ago, my mom gave me socks with my dog’s face on it and I absolutely love them! The socks even made an appearance in the pictures of me getting engaged, Gracie will forever be a part of that moment now. I decided to take it to the next level and gave my dad socks with MY face on them. Soon, I decided that my brother, my mom, and everyone I know needed a pair of Lauren face socks. It has now become a bit of a running joke in the family, and they never know what item with my face on it that they will get next. There are so many things that are used on the daily that now have the capability to be branded with your beautiful face on it; oven mitts, t-shirts, aprons, underwear, pjs, blankets, cups, etc. This is a perfect gift for the person with a sense of humor in your life, but also it could be perfect for your grandma that lives states away and could use a more exciting way to see you than the picture on their fridge that is your Christmas card from 3 years ago. Something like this is perfect for any occasion, and since I am 97% sure none of Zach’s groomsmen actually read my blogs, they will in fact all be wearing Lauren face socks on our wedding day. Start with face socks from my favorite site here !

5. An Infrequent Experience

I did Google to see if infrequent is a word – it is. This gift is perfect for those on a bit of a budget at the moment, as this can be redeemed anytime. This one may also seem a bit cheesy and bring you back to your childhood in more ways than one, but can mean more to someone than you know. Here’s the instructions: get a piece of paper and a pen (or a crayon if you want to embrace the flashback to childhood part), then write down something that you want to do with that person sometime that you haven’t done for a while. That’s it. Growing up, something that I always enjoyed doing and thought was so special is when my mom would take me to meet up with my dad during the work day and we’d have lunch as a family. It is something so simple, but was so rare and that’s the reason why I remember going to Champps and ordering mozzarella sticks 18 years ago. Because of this memory, I gave my mom on her birthday a “coupon” to have lunch with me sometime during the work week. I initially thought it was a bit stupid and not thoughtful to wrap up a piece of paper to gift to her, but I recently went to my parents house and the “Free Lunch with Lauren coupon” was hanging up front and center on the fridge. As we get older, everyday things that we used to do don’t happen as frequently anymore, and getting to experience those things again mean a lot more to someone than you know. But please, for me, don’t do the “free hug” thing like I definitely did when I was ten and gave to my brother.

6. Perfume or Cologne

These are two things that people use probably on the daily, and are socially acceptable and not disappointing to give as a gift unlike other things that people use on the daily to make them smell good such as deodorant, or a bar of soap. Perfume and cologne are on the VIP list while toothpaste and bandaids just didn’t make the cut. There are a few things that I love to get as gifts, but I just don’t buy for myself. My perfume is one of these things (and socks with my dog’s face on them), but perfume/cologne probably aren’t something that comes to someone’s mind when you ask them what they need/want. It is more often than not the neglected item that sits in the corner of your bathroom vanity, fully underrated. I know these can be pricey depending on if you’re going with something like Zach’s Versace cologne, or my Juicy Couture perfume, and that’s why the travel size tubes are perfect gifts to give, too! I would not dare travel with a ginormous bottle of perfume, but I feel naked without my scent on vacations. Does the person you’re buying for not wear any scent? Well this is your opportunity to pick out the scent you like for them and want to smell every time you get within a social distancing distance. It is also a great opportunity to get your teenage son off of the Axe body spray poison,or your daughter off the Victoria’s Secret PINK spray that makes your eyes water.

7. Something That YOU Like and Use Often

This is where you need to stop and reflect about how you live out your life in the most not – deep way possible. I do this often when trying to think about what to get people. What items do I use literally everyday and could not live without now? (Please veto ranch dressing or your favorite condiment). What are favorite outfit staples? Favorite brands? Home decor piece? What gadgets have I discovered that have changed my life such as the Scrub Daddy? If you don’t have a Scrub Daddy, go get one, also a great gift idea to pair with something more fun. If you don’t know what a Scrub Daddy is, this probably just got really weird sounding-there’s no scrubbing of your dad involved…although I guess you could…I digress. Some people don’t know what they need in their life until they get it! There was one year that I was having the hardest time thinking about what to get my mom, and then I looked down at my outfit which I happened to be wearing one of my favorite jackets that day. I thought hey, I think I look pretty hip, might as well give this a go and upgrade Mom’s wardrobe, too. It paid off! The same pattern went for Popsockets, certain cookbooks, my Stasher bag idea, and even went as far as my future mother in law and me bonding over shopping for undies together because I recommended my favorite brand. To all y’all looking to get closer to your in laws, go shopping for your delicates together.

8. Multi Purpose Gift Cards

I don’t know why people are so against getting gift cards or think they are boring. I personally love getting gift cards, especially when I don’t want to use my own money at Target to get toilet paper or laundry detergent! Again, just like giving someone Lubriderm lotion is weird, but giving someone Bath & Body Works lotion is perfectly ok, I have come to find that multi purpose gift cards have a little more ~spice~ and satisfy people’s expectations when it comes to gift cards instead of giving someone your average Target gift card. Maybe your loved one isn’t into getting a gift card to the staple Starbucks, but they may be into a gift card that allows them to use it at multiple places, or more of a niche place. Recently, I was gifted a card the could be used at popular Minneapolis restaurants/cafes owned by the same parent group, and it was great! Other honorable mentions have been the TJ Maxx/HomeGoods/Marshalls/Sierra combo giftcards, or the Noodles & Co/Panera/Chipotle combo! Don’t underestimate the power of simple choices and simple gifting.

9. Fashionable Comfy Clothes

When I think of this, I picture my dad in his baggy gray sweatpants and his sweatshirt from my rec sports days paired with snow boots ready to go snow blow the driveway. Comfy clothes are one of those things that have never thought to be trendy until now, and I know this for a fact because I recently was out shopping and found a $90 pair of gray sweats that could have easily be found for $10 at Walmart. But still, people don’t really ever upgrade their comfy clothes to the point where people are looking at you in public because you’re wearing a cute jogger set, rather than looking at you trying to determine if you’ve showered in the past week. I for one, basically live in my Alo jogger sets and they are one of the best investments I have ever made. Joggers are pretty trendy for both guys and girls in this day and age, and all ages probably will enjoy them. If you know someone that still wears the same graphic/logo sweatshirt from college or high school, or the black elastic waistband sweats with their last time on their thigh, it’s time to upgrade, and they will appreciate you for it.

10. Something They Need but Wont Ask For

As I have been making my wedding registry, so many people have told me “if you need something upgraded, now is the time to do it because you won’t ever get to again.” But that is so wrong! I could easily ask for new pans for Christmas, a new set of towels, or some replacement silverware. This is where a little observation comes in on your part of the things that your loved one or friend could use an upgrade on, but for some reason has an unwritten rule of that a Christmas list can’t look like a registry or super mundane thing. People get so used to their everyday items, that it takes a fresh set of eyes to see that it’s time to get a new one, or that there is a problem. A great example of this is Zach’s socks. He wears those things to death to the point where there are some pairs where the heels do not exist- I wouldn’t even define it as a sock anymore. I’ll tell him that he needs new socks, but he refuses and says they work just fine. No, they don’t! Maybe you’re in your friends bathroom and see their earrings all over the vanity, how about an earring book like I have gotten a few people (find it here ). Is your mom’s baking sheet the lovely rust brown color rather than silver? Time to replace that thing. Thoughtful gift giving actually does take some thought sometimes, you just gotta remember to think about doing it!

Well my friends, that is all the prime wisdom I have for you this time. Gift giving can be so hard sometimes (unless you’re in the Casey family and you all make wish lists with the hyperlinks to the exact item wanted and then create a group email chain to coordinate what has already been bought off the list). But realizing that most families simply don’t have the motive to do that, I hope at least one of these things rings a bell for you, or that you learned what a Scrub Daddy is. Happy Holidays to everyone near and far! I wish you a season of joy, togetherness, and less requests of asking for the gift receipt!


10 Everyday Things To Be Thankful For

With Thanksgiving upon us, although Target and the rest of the world seems to have forgotten about it completely, it is that time of the year again for me to make my annual “what I am thankful for” post. For those of you that have been reading my blog for a few years now, you know that I like to avoid the cliche posts about being thankful for my friends and family and whatever else is probably listed in a greeting card to be thankful for. I’ve unintentionally made this post an annual “thing” now to highlight some of the most mundane everyday things, yet I am quite thankful for them and they deserve a day to be appreciated! My intention for this post is to not only bring you cheap entertainment, but to help you see that there are so many things to be thankful for that bring people joy and appreciation! So with that, here are 10 things I am thankful for this year:

1. Curtains

Go ahead and laugh, but I am seriously thankful for curtains! Being a first time homeowner, I didn’t realize how much appreciation I had for them until the previous owners left them behind for us and we didn’t need to get them ourselves. I also realized that they aren’t just for decoration. Growing up, the curtains in my parent’s house were more for looks and I didn’t really view them in the whole “privacy” way. As you can imagine, this has come as an adjustment now that the curtains in my own house are there for privacy. The master bedroom has a very large and beautiful window that overlooks the whole back yard, as well as backs up to the neighbors’ houses behind me. I am very confident, in fact about 95% confident, that I have flashed my birthday suit more than a few times to the neighbors behind us and very well may have to the main road that is right outside my neighborhood since the view into the bedroom is a clear shot at night when the lights are on post shower…(I really need to get into the habit of closing the curtains). In my defense, I work hard at the gym, they could see worse things through the window, right? Just take a moment and thank all the curtains in your life, and all the nudity or other embarrassing things they’ve covered up for you!

2. Hair Dryers

To all my ladies and fellas with long hair, you know why I’m thankful for this. A hair dryer is one of those things that fits the “you don’t know what you have until it’s gone” mantra. This brings me back specifically to when I was studying abroad in France, and my hairdryer caught on fire leaving me with wet hair the rest of the trip. I say the “caught on fire” part casually because catching hair dryers on fire is a common occurrence for me, with the most tragic loss being the Hello Kitty hairdryer. Hair dryers are more than just a small appliance, people. They are important! Imagine what people would do if you showed up to work with soaking wet hair. Or what if you didn’t dry your hair on your wedding day? Try going outside in the middle of a Minnesota winter with wet hair. Not only is wet hair annoying, but for some odd reason, wet hair is just not an acceptable societal norm, and hair dryers are the solution to that…or sticking your head out the car window on the way to work, but I digress. Not to mention, hair dryers prevent your dog from looking like a little creature for longer than they should (Gracie Casey will always be cute no matter what state her hair is in). But please, for me, give your hair dryer a little more love today, especially as you are using it to get ready to stuff your face at Thanksgiving dinner.

3. Lyme Disease

I am thankful to have Lyme Disease, yes, I did type that correctly. I know I talk about my health a lot, and how it can be a challenge to be plagued with this plague, but Lyme has brought so many blessings in disguise (something I also talk about a lot). Being sick may seem like a weird thing to be thankful for, but I am thankful to say that I have Lyme because that means I don’t instead have the incurable condition called Functional Neurological Disorder, aka, the condition I’ve written several blog posts about. Turns out, I never did have FND, and I wouldn’t have found that out if it weren’t for Lyme waking up after 16 years of hibernation due to an alpaca farm visit. Have you ever been rock climbing and the only rock you can grab onto is one of those tiny ones that is super hard to grasp, yet it will work if you can just get the right grip? That is what Lyme feels like right now- it feels like there is not a lot of hope to hold on to at the moment, but there’s a tiny bit still there, and if I can figure out exactly what will help me, I’ll get to where I’ve been trying to reach for 14 years now. This is a lot better than FND where there was no rock to grasp onto at all, and I was stuck where I was. I’m also thankful for Lyme because it has taught me to slow down, and be more open about my feelings (which I hate doing but it forces me to). It’s revealed to me who is here for me- my family, my amazing friends (if y’all actually read this, text me a cartwheel emoji), and my fiance who has already gotten the in sickness and in health exclusive trial subscription. That was my “I’m thankful for my friends and family” part of the blog, had to put it in there somewhere. Lastly, Lyme created a passion for helping others keep their eyes fixed forward and to stay positive when facing their own struggles, and learning to fully own their story rather than hide it. I do this mainly through championing the wellness and disability employee resource group at my company that I gave name to as “Well & Able.” Don’t get me wrong, Lyme has been absolutely terrible, but I fully believe I have it for a purpose, and someday I will be thankful that it allowed me to write a lengthy memoir about my odd life story entailing how alpacas, oxygen chambers, controlling games with my brain waves, Keto diet, ceiling harnesses, lots of cardio and tangerine smelling scalp glue all led to where I am now. I’m currently waiting for the end of my story, but once I get it, you better watch the best sellers list because I will be on there. Mark my words, people!

4. Glasses and Contacts

No more deep health stuff I promise. It amazes me how I’ve woken up every day the past decade and go “put my eyeballs in” as I say, and I don’t even consider going a day without contacts or glasses. I truly don’t know how I ever lived without them-not even exaggerating. I got glasses in 3rd grade after I realized that not being able to see anything on the board at school was not normal. And then, I finally gave in and got contacts when I learned that it was probably unsafe that I couldn’t really see the balance beam as I was flipping on it. I am thankful that I have my glasses and contacts to allow me to drive, see other people’s faces, and order my Starbs drinks because I can’t read the menu in the drive thru without eye help even though I order the same thing every time and don’t need to read it. The panic I feel when I lose a contact in public is unmatched. It is probably worse than the feeling of realizing the single person bathroom you’re in at a restaurant is out of toilet paper. If I lose a contact, it means I immediately need to go home wherever I am. It sounds dramatic, but that is just how much I rely on a little flimsy clear thing and allow it to dictate my life. While I could tell more contact horror stories, I think you get the idea that being able to see clearly is something I am super thankful for, and I don’t recognize what allows me to do that enough!

5. Spotify

I remember there was a point in my life where I refused to get Spotify, and it probably didn’t help that the first exposure I had to it was the non-ad free version. It was like the Android versus Apple war, and I was a die hard ITunes gal. The amount of money I spent on songs, and hours I spent sitting getting them, will be time and money that I will never get back. Now, my ITunes account is as outdated as the senior picture playlist cover art I set for my “Lauren’s Tunes” playlist. My ITunes is a sad graveyard of Jason Derulo, Katy Perry, and the OG Luke Bryan songs that no one listens to anymore. I really am thankful for the fact that I can find a new song, and play it over again 15 times in a row, until I find a new song or artist to obsess over and play it over and over again. I also appreciate that Spotify allows me to see what my friends are listening to, or more specifically my brother, so I can make fun of the song he is listening to from when we were in middle school. I don’t go a day without music, and I don’t think I could go a day without music, or concerts, so shoutout to Spotify for making my showers full on performances.

6. Hugs

Whoever invented the concept of hugs is both a genius, but also borderline creepy if you think about it. Those who know me, know that I am not really a hugger. I don’t know why, and you’d think that I’d grow to be a hugger after the number of awkward half side hugs with a family member or standing there smiling at each other since I don’t tend to initiate goodbye hugs. Despite all that, I haven’t fully achieved hugger status, I am working on it, I promise. Remember how I mentioned above that Lyme has forced me to share my emotions more? Well, this has led to more hugs because apparently sharing with others that I feel like a sloth that day prompts for a warm embrace. For that, I am thankful because hugs are pretty great and actually help! There have been days where I am in such a bad mood, have no idea why, and none of my normal “feel better” tactics work. Then, I get home and get a giant hug from Zach and boom! All better. Hugs really do fix more than you’d think. I could go all psychology nerd on you here but something about the smell of my man (or my mom, nothing beats your mom’s perfume) combined with that warm embrace leads to lots of neurotransmitters released! Miss someone? Hug. Bad day at work? Hug. Burned your toast? Hug. Monday night football took priority over the Bachelor’s regularly scheduled time? Hug. Fell down the stairs? Hug. Sometimes it truly is that simple and all you need is a hug, folks.

7. Humor and Sarcasm

Not everyone is thankful for this, it really depends on if you’re the giver or receiver, but I am very thankful that these things are a “thing” for several reasons. First, as mentioned, I’m not good at negative emotions. Humor allows me and all y’all that also do this too, to cope with emotions, awkward situations where you don’t know what to say, or news you didn’t want. It came in handy as a gymnast when we weren’t allowed to complain, cry, show too much excitement #stayhumble, or show disappointment (Freud would say this is why emotions aren’t my favorite thing now, which he probably is not wrong about that one thing, the rest of what he said you can take with a grain of salt). Second, sarcasm and humor keep my mind sharp! Studies actually show that those who are sarcastic and can roast you on the spot are more intelligent. It keeps the brain thinking constantly. Sarcasm and humor are also around half of all my blog posts, and without it, I might as well be writing about how to patch drywall, except I don’t think you want me giving you that advice. I appreciate that everyone’s sense of humor is unique to them, and mine just happens to be corny like giving everyone I know a piece of clothing with my face on it slowly overtime. My personal favorite is the Larry the cucumber hiding war that has been ongoing for the last 5+ years with my dad, in which we take turns hiding a plush Larry the cucumber from Veggie Tales in the most inconvenient places (Larry has gone with my dad in his briefcase to important meetings at work, his hockey games with him – real manly pulling out a Larry in the locker room-, appeared in the shower instead of his shampoo bottle, etc. If you need some more humor in your life, consider hiding fake vegetables around the house with a loved one.

8. Indoor Exercise Equipment

I am not thankful for this due to the fact that it keeps me in shape and because I have to workout everyday because of my Lyme. I am thankful for indoor exercise equipment because I live in Minnesota, hate running, therefore, hate running in the cold. While I am fully aware that running outdoors is not the only way to workout when there’s no equipment around, I am just way too lazy to do anything other than press start on a machine and go for an hour! I remember how thankful for indoor machines every time I’d rather fall down the stairs than go up them on the stair master. This is also one of those luxuries in life that you don’t know how appreciative of it you should be. When Covid hit and gyms were closed, this cut off my access to any and all weights except for the pink 1 lb paperweight dumbbells in the basement. I started deadlifting laundry baskets of clothes, doing block pushes with boxes full of textbooks, and squatting backpacks of cans. As joyful as it was to actually use my math book again (and it probably served me better as a weight than how I did use it) I would much rather pick up a dumbbell. Being able to hop on my spin bike at home is a luxury that I truly am thankful for every single day because what else am I supposed to do on my lunch break?

9. Breweries

This fall, my brother in law (or my brother’s fiance’s brother- if anyone knows if there is a term for that, please let me know because we have been searching for this term for months) set up a brewery tour every Tuesday with a group of folks that I did not know at all prior to this. The Brew Crew as I call it, has been such a blessing during this season of being 20 something and trying to find a core friend group again. These are now people that I can see being in my life long term, and if it were not for meeting up at a brewery and drinking a beer, I would not be where I am today (tried to make something not deep sound deep there, how did I do?) Along the way, I’ve discovered that I genuinely enjoy trying new sours/ciders and am not just a Truly gal. It’s been kind of cool to see how breweries have evolved in the last few years because it’s so much more than the beer. Breweries are such a good spot to meet new people, catch up after a long day with old friends, or go on a first date with your future spouse like I did!

10. Google Calendar

My Google Calendar is my life. I mean this more literally than figuratively since it actually has all my life events on it. You know how when you’re bored and you’ll go scroll through Facebook or Insta? Well I go scroll through my Google Calendar because I find that fun especially when I can color code all my different events. It may be the type A in me, but it is a source of hope and excitement because I get to look ahead to all the exciting things that are to come such as counting the days to Christmas, dinner with a friend, when my new washer and dryer are being delivered, or anything wedding related. But also, it makes my life so much easier in regards to scheduling my weekly treatment sessions and many many many doctors appointments, my friend’s birthdays, in law’s birthdays, Brew Crew nights, work trainings, or literally anything because it is all in one spot. Imagine if we still had to carry around planners! I was obsessed with my planner back in high school before Google Calendar was a thing, but I cannot imagine having to carry around a book and pen like they did in the olden days. Now that Zach and I are engaged, we now have shared google calendars which really is how you know you’re ready for marriage.

Well there you have it, folks. Another year of weirdly relatable things to be thankful for! Every morning, I like to sit and have my morning coffee while brainstorming three things I am thankful for and writing them down. The only rule is I can’t repeat anything I’ve said previously. Because of this, it’s opened my mind and heart to appreciate the little things more and realize just how lucky I am to live the life I’m living even on the days where I sit on the bathroom floor and have “Bad Day” by Daniel Powter on repeat. I challenge you to start this practice (not the bathroom part, the writing what you’re thankful for part), or at least come up with three things after reading this, but I must say; shovels, laundry detergent, and scrunchies are already taken today, sorry.

Happy Turkey Day! May your turkeys be fully cooked, your stuffing not too soggy, and your cranberries look exactly like the can they came out of.


Everything My Future Husband is Not

It has been a while since I have written an entire blog post about someone, heck, it has been a while since I have written a blog post in general. So naturally, I must create something in honor of Zach turning 27! A lot of you have not even met Zach yet, and I personally think everyone on this planet should know about this incredible man I get to call mine and why he is so stellar. He basically is 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 in person form. So with that, here is everything that Mr. Zachery (emphasis on E-R-Y) Haugen is not. And before you judge me for thinking I’m about to spew off a list of terrible things about my man like his habit of picking his fingers that drives me insane, y’all know I like to put a twist on things. Sometimes looking at what you aren’t highlights all that you are. I could tell you everything that Zach is, but let’s be honest, that would be boring, really sappy, and no one would click on that kind of tag line (all about that clickbait). I’ll try to keep this post Tostitos mild salsa level sappy, instead of extra hot all while not embarrassing Zach in the process (probably will be embarrassing me more here because I’m great at that). If you need proof of that last sentence, ask us about what I did on our first date.

He is not from Eagan

Definitely not Eagan

While we both live in the more inner part of the cities right now, we both are from the suburbs. When I say we are from the suburbs, that means two completely different things since Eagan is as flat as a pancake compared to the wintery hills of death called Duluth with a lake that makes every lake in Eagan look like a puddle. Zach is the true Minnesotan out of the two of us since he grew up in one of the places that makes Minnesota worth coming to, and doesn’t scream every time he jumps from rock to rock at Gooseberry Falls. It is really nice knowing that I am marrying into a family where visiting my in laws is going to feel like a mini vacation every time we go up to visit them! When we first started dating, Zach took me on a “hometown tour” that consisted of the North Shore and all the other spots that you probably have seen in proposals, engagement pictures, and tourist highlights. You bet I returned the favor and took him on the greatest Eagan/Apple Valley hometown tour. It showcased the most popular Raising Canes, the first Super Target to exist, and of course, TAGS gymnastics, my second home. I even got him an Eagan Minnesota sweatshirt since he got me a Duluth Pack one because Eagan is JUST as great as Duluth, obviously.

He is never selfish

I’m just going to say that Zach is a lot nicer than I am (or this could just be a psychological phenomenon called Imposter Syndrome- but I digress). Between seeing him interact with his three younger siblings, his family, friends, my family, and of course myself; it is not hard at all to see his genuine care for others. He is so quick to put others first that it amazes me how he hasn’t blown his top. I can think of dozens of times when he would, and has, sacrificed what he probably wanted to do or was doing to make me, or someone else happy followed by an “it’s all good!” or, “I don’t care!” and actually seems like he is all good and doesn’t care. I’ve never had a man willingly turn the TV off during the middle of a big game to go to dinner with my parents, the gym with me, a gymnastics meet, the list goes on…. He does so much for others and expects nothing in return. I could write a whole other blog about the countless number of times he has dropped what he was doing/came to help me when my FND and Lyme were giving me troubles, when others would think it’s crazy to come to my rescue at 4 AM, or see it and run the other direction. Can’t forget the spoiled New Years when he stayed back from a family event because a chicken patty gone wrong gave me food poisoning…or the time he drove me to the ER in the middle of no where, Minnesota for a kidney infection on the way to another Duluth family event…Maybe I should create a blog post about all the crazy stories I’ve put this man through. He will tell you that I’m a trooper but I think he deserves the gold star.

He is not self-conceited or lazy

In other words, Zach is so humble and hard-working. I say this about every aspect of life; work, relationships, self care, etc. He somehow juggles it all even on days he’s running on fumes. Remember how I mentioned Imposter Syndrome earlier? (Feelings like you are not as good as how others perceive you to be- fun fact: 70% of the population feels this phenomenon). As an unlicensed psychologist with no power to make an official diagnosis, I am diagnosing Zach with this. A Process Optimization Consultant with a psychology degree and obsession with psych in my back pocket counts for something, right? He doesn’t give himself enough credit for all he has done, can do, and does do. His passion for what he does shines through even when he can’t see it, and I have no problem reminding him every day that I am so proud of him, and how he motivates those around him, too. He’s got more willpower than anyone I have ever seen. The amount of thought and care he puts into making me feel special is unmatched; from planning out our engagement down to the little things of going out of his way by bringing me my favorite drink of choice just because. He never will brag about what he has accomplished even when sometimes I think he should…except for how he is the best soccer player out of all the Haugens. I’ve heard that a few times 🙂

He is not quick to anger

Being with a Casey, specifically a Lauren Casey, can be quite a rollercoaster at times. You never know what weird twists and turns are going to hit you. I’d like to say I’m more like the kiddy joy ride roller coaster at the county fair, but honestly, I am more like The Corkscrew at Valleyfair. Like most people, my moods can go up and down due to the fact that dealing with stress isn’t my forte. I swear Zach is half cucumber because he’s as cool as one. I have never seen him get angry at anything, not even Minnesota sports. Most impressively, he did not get any kind of upset during the house buying process when I was a whole new monster even I had never witnessed of myself. For homeowners, you know how stressful this can be, I was justified. That’s something I appreciate about him so much because when I have been stirred up about my day at work, my health, or finding a house with a large master vanity – he is my constant that takes me back down to baseline and calms my stress.

He is not a gymnast

Trust me, I checked. He’s got a lot to learn still, while on the converse, I still have a lot to learn about his sport: soccer! I have enjoyed entering his world lately as I’ve now attended more than 1 Loons game which makes me an official soccer fan now, right? Unlike watching my brother’s endless baseball games (sorry Christopher, I’ll never let those go), I actually enjoy going with Zach to watch his brother and sister’s soccer games. Before I met Zach, soccer was the sport I knew the least about since I decided to quit in kindergarten when I was traumatized after seeing my teammate get kicked in the knee and start hysterically crying while running off the field. Now, I watch it almost as much as I watch gymnastics! When we first met and I told him I was a gymnast, he immediately asked me if I could do a front handspring over a soccer ball like the pros do- needless to say, the gymnast meets soccer moment has made me come out of retirement just to master this so I can finally not be lying from saying yes that day.

He is never not smiling

Maybe it’s due to the fact that his dad is a dentist and his teeth are impeccable, but really, he’s just a happy dude! My mirror neurons thank him for this, as I’ve been told my default face is a resting “you know what” face….I swear I’m not mad that’s just my face! It’s really hard to not be happy around him, and anyone’s mood is instantly lifted just by his presence. He is my Serotonin.

He does not dress like a high school guy

Y’all know exactly what I mean, and if you don’t, it’s the athletic shorts/sweatpants everyday look. Dressing up back then was a guy wearing…wait for it…jeans! This may seem like an insignificant little detail, but I really appreciate that I don’t have to tell him what to wear like I am his mom. If anything, the only reason we will ask each other what we are wearing is so we can match each other’s “vibe” we are going for that night. I don’t know about you, but that is definitely #goals. Zach worked at American Eagle all throughout college, including summer internships, which is how he found his retail niche! I have to thank American Eagle for sticking him with the Aerie side of things for a while- he’s the only guy I have met that knows what cheeky underwear is. You bet we bonded over the fact we both wore American Eagle all through high school, and still do since we both basically never grew again. But the one thing I don’t mind from high school? Backwards hats. Ladies, you know what I mean.

He is not boring

What is the adjective used to say someone is the opposite of adventurous and outgoing? I landed on boring. I can credit Zach for getting me to inch out of my comfort zone a little bit more than I used to. For that, I am so grateful, otherwise I would not have learned that my true love is not actually him, but is street tacos. His adventurous side and excitement to try new restaurants/date night ideas, has now turned me into a better Minnesotan to the point where it’s not as obvious anymore that I grew up in the suburbiest suburb ( see below the step by step instructions and diagrams written by my dad on how to start a fire because he knew I didn’t know how…one of Zach’s favorite documents he’s ever witnessed). Those who know me well know that I can have a hard time relaxing or going with the flow, well, I can now successfully say that I know how to do that now. Life with Zach is always going to be a fun adventure, and I’m only experiencing the tip of the iceberg with a lifetime of iceberg left to go.

He is not unhelpful

Is that a word? Because is doesn’t sound like one. I can’t think of a better person to go to for help (other than my dad whenever I have car issues). Zach and I are very much a team in every aspect or project we are working on, and when we are not, it’s more because I am the one leaning on him for help. He knows how to help me in ways that I didn’t even know I needed, like leaving motivational sticky notes in random places when I am not looking and discovering them on a hard day is just one example. He will drop me off at places because he knows I am scared of any place that may require any percent chance of parallel parking. He even went into my apartment one day when I was at an overnight work conference because I suddenly remembered I forgot to take a load out of the washer and didn’t want them sitting there for days (he even remembered which delicates needed to be hung up, that is husband material). The number of times someone has asked me if Zach is as hands off on wedding planning as their fiancé was, is unreal! We both have been equally active in picking out all the furniture for the new house, flatware for the registry, and really everything but my wedding dress, of course. People look at me like I just told them I am moving to Fiji when I tell them HE picked out the wedding colors, not me.

It’s amazing how easy it is to write about what you love, and love is an understatement when it comes to Zach (sorry, this probably surpassed the mild salsa level sappy zone). I can only wish that everyone has someone in their life that they can call their best friend, biggest supporter, and other half. While I know not everyone may not want to read about a complete stranger, at one point, Zach was a complete stranger to me, too, and I have learned so much from him that I think everyone can learn a thing or two here. To conclude, happy birthday, Zachery! I can’t wait to celebrate YOU this weekend 🙂

Happy July, folks!


New Year’s Goals: Forget resolutions and reframe your thinking

Let me start off right away pointing out that I am posting this at the end of January rather than the “new year, new me” time frame. But here we are again, a new year, with new aspirations and declarations that tend to only last a solid two weeks. I’ve been there; I’ve made the promises to myself that I would get back my club gymnast body even though I no longer need to be in shape to fling myself over objects that don’t care if I kill myself in the process. I’ve told myself I’d floss every single day, and read a non psychology related book every morning (trying to read books that normal people read for fun). Well, it never happened, and I don’t like resolutions. You see, the reason I don’t like resolutions isn’t because I don’t think I can accomplish weaving a piece of string through my teeth, it is because resolutions, from a psychological standpoint, ironically aren’t very healthy or attainable for a large percentage of people.

I like to make goals for myself, not resolutions. While psychology does show that a new sense of motivation is created by fresh starts and our brains are better at comprehending things in chunks… there is no science backing up that these said chunks have to start on the first of a month, first day of a new year, or a Monday! This is why I don’t like the giant starting line on January 1st, because what happens if you’ve got all your resolutions ready to go, but you get a 24 hour stomach virus on New Years Eve and spend the night on the toilet? (true story, sorry Ryan Seacrest, I created my own fireworks out of both ends this year). If I followed a resolutions mentality, I would have already failed the minute the clock hit 2022. Psychology shows that resolutions can lead to failure due to the fact that it sets us up for an all-or-nothing mindset. We put so much pressure on January 1st by swearing off to never eat a potato chip again, but then once we give in day later, we throw in the towel and give up because we lose faith in ourselves.

The benefit of setting goals is they can be made on a random Tuesday at 3:07 PM and can be started over 17 times a day.; it’s on your time and your terms. Our brains don’t like being told “no,” and that is what a resolution does. In fact, our brains like to act like toddlers and do the exact opposite of what it is told not to do. Even though I’ve been fully aware of this psychological phenomenon in years past and swore off “unhealthy food,” that lasted until dinner that night because the forbidden fruit causes even more temptation (if you need further proof go look up a little story called Adam and Eve). This is why this year, I am focusing on goal setting, not changing my habits overnight. While there are big differences between a resolution and a goal, there is one pretty big similarity, and the reason why the line between resolutions and goals is so fine lately when really, it should be a thick line. As social media has grown and comparison culture is a legit thing, goals have become a lot more about getting something, or getting rid of something, rather than achieving something, and I’d like to help y’all reframe your resolutions and goals.

The reason resolutions and “modern day goals,” shall I call them, exist are because we are dissatisfied with parts of our lives, or we want something to happen. As I was thinking about content for this post in the shower (this is typically where all my ideas originate, as well as during my dreams, or any other random times instead of when I intentionally sit down to write), I thought about my goals for this year and the fact they weren’t all quantitative like my past resolutions were. Instead, they are qualitative, and I felt a lot more peace and hope when thinking about them. I realized that my goals actually get to the root of what I want, not just a fix that I thought would get me to where I want (ex: lose 10 pounds to feel good about my body again). I promise this will apply to you in some way, and I want to help you see what you should STOP doing when it comes to goal setting.

My goals this year are meant to create that thick line between goals and resolutions again. They are more than something I want to just get, it is something I want to achieve, and live out daily. I’m going to preface by saying that my goals go against all the SMART goal (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, timely) setting we did in middle school/high school/college. My goals are broad as heck, can’t be measured with numbers, and time frame? No, that’s a recipe for failure! And you know what? That’s ok, because goals have no rules (unless you’re at a hockey or soccer game). If having smart goals works better for you to hold you accountable, then go for it! But for me and my perfectionistic, type A, all or nothing mentality; giving myself a number to hit, and then falling one number short = failure in my mind rather than seeing all that I did do along the way. So with that, here’s my 5 main goals for this year, and maybe they will spark some for you, too.

There’s no way you didn’t do this in middle school

Stop trying to lose 10 pounds

For someone reading this thinking they’ll finally learn how to lose the last 10 pounds, don’t exit out of this yet. Remember how I said that we often make goals that are quick fixes to get to the root of what we actually want? How about we just make what we truly want our goal? For me (and probably you, too), this is being happy with how my body looks. Don’t get me wrong, I loved being a gymnast, but being judged on how “my lines” looked in a leotard, and making sure my body was in prime shape for half my life didn’t go without causing extreme attention to how my body looks daily. Since I’ve retired, I’ve spent time recovering from disordered eating, body image issues, and have believed that I’d finally be happy once I lost 10 pounds…but I never thought to make my goal to work on accepting my body right now; what it does right now, how beautiful it still is right now, and the fact that I can whoop someone’s butt in a handstand contest right now. My goal is to learn to love my body in the present. The reason losing 10 pounds is STILL on everyone’s “to do” list, is for two reasons. 1. We assign a time to it, and so much pressure to do it that we go to unsustainable extremes so it becomes this nasty cycle of giving up then starting over. 2. Giving ourselves a goal that is more like a task we can check off is a lot easier than facing internal feelings we have to battle. I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t like talking about emotions, or letting people know that I feel anything but confident at all times. But here I am announcing to the internet that I avoid icky feelings like a pro, and have bad negative self talk when it may seem that I am A-okay 95% of the time. How bout we skip the quick fix and make our goal to do the real work and acceptance? How will I know when I’ve achieved this goal? When quality of life is better, and I feel joy in situations that currently cause me stress such as looking at a picture with my boyfriend or my family and despising what I look like. Seriously, is your goal to see a certain number on the scale? Or is it so feel a certain way about yourself? *mic drop*

Stop trying to read for fun

I did indeed, get this from Pinterest

Before you start to think this is a blog about promoting bad habits, the theme I’m going for here is that we make goals that are basically a cry for help for something else that we truly want. In this case, reading for fun is code for I WANT TO LEARN TO RELAX! So I’m making my goal to learn to relax. Serious question here: do you even know how to relax? Cause I don’t think I actually do. I used to think relaxing was sitting on the couch and being able to scroll through Instagram until I realized I started to feel stressed about seeing other people’s amazing Lyme-less lives or started to feel my anxiety bubbling up as I see the 13 unread email notifications from work on a Saturday (I think those 13 people need to learn to chill more than I do). So then I switched my beliefs and thought relaxing meant having the time to read for fun since that seems like something chill people do. That became my resolution until I realized my mind was taxed and didn’t want to read 12 point font at 11 PM after a full day of school (and no, it is not because psychology books are my idea of reading for fun, this also applied to Nicholas Sparks books, too). Relaxing these days is so much harder than I thought. It requires not picking up my phone and scrolling through Facebook while trying to watch Netflix…emphasis on trying to watch Netflix. Watching a show with undivided attention and actually enjoying it requires effort for a lot of people nowadays! For me, my goal is to be able to pay attention to an activity I enjoy doing with no thoughts about work the next day, the fact I still have Lyme spirochetes using my nervous system as a playground, and that I haven’t been to the gym yet today. For the record, I feel that tranquility and calmness I’m aiming for when I am blogging away at my favorite Starbucks listening to my #soft playlist on Spotify. Relaxing does not always equal laying on the couch reading a book with a candle lit, coffee in hand, while the snow is lightly falling like Pinterest and Instagram has coaxed us into thinking that’s what it is (especially in Florida or Kentucky, that would just be odd). It is whatever makes you feel like you can finally exhale for once, and at least for me, brings me closer to God and can feel His presence.

Stop trying to floss 7 days a week

This resolution of mine never did get off the ground, even when it involved using dino flossers as extra motivation. Well, that’s because I didn’t actually want to floss 7 days a week…sorry Dr. Mittelsteadt and Zach’s dad. What I wanted all these years, was to take better care of myself and my health, and this somehow translated into thinking that flossing made me feel like I had my life together. So my goal here, is to take better care of my overall health by setting in place a night routine. My morning routine I’ve got down solid, but when it comes to night time, I unfortunately have procrastinating going to bed down solid, too due to a psychological concept called “revenge bedtime procrastination” that a lot of people experience because we feel like sleep robs us of leisure time after having a full schedule all day. (The fact that my FND happens primarily at night time and I have a slight fear of sleeping definitely doesn’t help either). This is why I want to get a routine going, because my brain thrives with set routines, and getting more consistency at night might be the sleeping pill I’ve needed all these years to let my body know that the natural human need to sleep is not a living nightmare and is actually enjoyable. I’d love to get to bed at the same time every night (perhaps after I brush my teeth AND floss), say my prayers, jot a few lines in my 5 year journal, read a little bit, and go to sleep knowing that I’m doing everything in my power to better my overall health. What about you? Do you have a good nightly routine? Or are there some areas you could improve?

Stop trying to have a weekly date night

This started out as a really good goal in my mind until I realized that having to actively, with effort, carve out time during my week for a few hours to spend quality time with the person I love sounds really sad. What is keeping me so occupied that I have to literally plan out a day I’m going to wear jeans instead of sweatpants, and plan to put on makeup for an hour or two? I realized that the reason for this is because I am always in a hurry, and because of this, am exhausted by the end of the day. So with that, my goal is to eliminate the need to hurry in my life so I am not always exhausted, and sweatpants won’t look more attractive than my handsome man of mine after a long day of work! This realization came to light from a book my church is doing a sermon series on called The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry by John Mark Comer. I highly recommend that everyone on this planet reads this book, especially those who don’t come to a full stop at stop signs, always choose the shortest line at the grocery store, or look at your phone during any lull in your life (that’s all of us, my point exactly). I have realized through reading this book, that I make myself exhausted every single day just by being in a hurry in all aspects of my life for no reason at all. For example; replying to emails right away rather than allowing my mind to rest and give it at least 5-10 minutes, working over my lunch break, driving over the speed limit, multitasking all day long, and heck, I even try to use the bathroom as fast as I can, and for what? Because of this, it takes away from the things that should be rewarding after a long day (I’m not talking about going to the bathroom here anymore), and makes me a version of myself that I don’t particularly enjoy. I want to have the energy to do date nights every night if I wanted to, rather than just one day a week, and start to balance out my jeans to sweatpants ratio.

Stop trying to find a cure

As much as I’d love to finally rid myself of Lyme Disease and Functional Neurological Disorder, the last few years have revealed to me that all the focus and effort I’ve put in to ridding myself of all of my problems, is taking away from other parts of my life that I used to enjoy regularly. So with that, my goal is to give more of my attention to what brings me joy in order to bring back “pre-FND Lauren.” Of course, I will never give up hope that I will someday be set free of it, but at some point, I need to draw the line where managing how many pills I take at night doesn’t become my life and I can just be me minus FND. Psychology has actually shown that the more attention given to an issue, the worse it can get because it stays in the mind, and subconscious. Over the years, I’ve noticed that as I’ve given more attention to treating FND, it’s actually gotten worse which leads to more attention given to it. Now, it has turned into what feels like I’m the project manager on an all consuming, 24/7 project that I don’t want to be on anymore. I’ve been grateful for the treatment and time my parents have contributed, especially since it led to discovering Lyme after all these years, but sometimes I just want to go cold turkey for treating FND, and live my life like I used to before I started any treatments. Before I started treatments in college, my condition was much less severe and not always on my mind which left room for thoughts about time with friends, vacations, games, cooking new foods, flying lawn mower videos, and everyday things that I actually do enjoy, rather than fear now. It was much easier to enjoy myself in the moment because there was never the lingering thought that I’d have a spell because of what I was doing. Thankfully since I met Zach, pre-FND Lauren has started to come back more these days, she’s a lot more bubbly and less stoic. But there is still that fear and hesitation that I’ve been conditioned to have if I make the wrong move, don’t take my medication on time or correctly, sit too long, use too much energy, or get too tired. I don’t want to live my life in fear anymore, I want to just live it like the fearless kid I used to be, and my own mind is what is stopping me! Do you have something you give too much negative attention to? Put your mind elsewhere, you have control of it!

My goals aren’t really a to do list like a lot of people seem to create when goal setting, and because of that, it will take time! But as they say, all good things take time. I hope these 5 goals made you think about the areas of your life that you could change to better your health, bring you back to the person you want to be if you’ve strayed from that, help you eliminate the hurry in your life, make you stop at stop signs, and learn how to appreciate the lulls in life. I’d love to hear some of your goals for this year, and if flossing 7 days a week is something you’ve achieved already, teach me your ways, please.

Happy January!