photo of woman sitting on rock

Why I swapped Resolutions for a 2021 Mantra

How it Started

Progress, not perfection.

2021 Resolutions are actively fading fast for most as we near the end of January, but I am feeling even more charged about my mantra for 2021! Good catch dear reader, I swapped resolution for mantra because I find it to be a more positive focus that is easier to sustain.

Anxiety can crush an artist before they even begin. It’s certainly happened to me on multiple occasions. I truly believe 90% of being an artist is simply having the courage to put your work out to the world and stand by it unapologetically. Art doesn’t need to be pixel perfect. I actually find it more enjoyable when art has a level of whimsy that makes it human, gives it personality.

In an effort to own those beliefs myself, my mantra the past year plus has been ” Progress, not perfection”.

I have always been a perfectionist. Partially because most things I tried came relatively easily to me. Dealing with my new normals after the stroke definitely shifted that and my confidence in myself. Discovering the amount of anxiety I was battling was so revealing and also oddly freeing. Feeling the difference after I started taking something for my anxiety was truly like night and day. Now that I have a good grasp on my anxiety control, and now that 2020 is finally in the dust (well nearly… I still need that Covid Vaccine) I am going full force into 2021 with a focus on developing my interests and keeping the judgement of myself at bay.

“Progress , not perfection” has already been at play in my head for over a year. I think it’s helped a lot, but his year I am adding to it to become “Sustained progress, not perfection.” Since I struggle with going all or nothing, I end up burning out or convince myself to reprioritize into a different focus. This year its going to be about sticking with progress and not going too crazy all at once.

How its going

So far I’ve spent most of my weekends focused on creating art – exploring oil paints and practicing to improve my drawing skills. To further this focus and investment in progress I’ve started taking private lessons with @leahgartner.art. Please check her out! She’s a local Chicago artist that I’ve just fallen completely in love with the personality of her work.

I’ve also been doing Adriene’s latest 30 days of Yoga – Breath. It’s the 25th of January and I’ve done 22, so I’m not perfect, but its moving forward and I’m enjoying my time on the mat. I can certainly identify that the time spent with Adriene has been serving me well.

Did you set New Year’s Resolutions? Does a mantra sound more appealing to you? I would love to know!

Stroke Survivor Fashion

There are days when you feel like screaming your triumph as a stroke survivor, and on those days you could use some stroke survivor fashion. I’m sharing the t-shirt I have been sporting and others.

My Survivor Shirt

stroke survivor tshrit

I chose mine in Red and I got a size Medium. It fits true to size and hasn’t shrunk. My shirt is also from Amazon also makes it such an easy purchase.

The V Neck

The V-neck style is also really nice. It’s a bit more feminine and they offer it in softer colors like baby blue and light pink.

Show Your Super Power

Show off your super power!

Show Support

If you’re not a stroke survivor yourself, this is a good tee to show your support.

A few others

There are even more options for stroke survivor fashion…

Traveling tips after having a stroke

Traveling as a Stroke Survivor may seem overwhelming, but here are some traveling tips to make it all less stressful and more fun. I’ve compiled these from my own experiences. I hope you find these traveling tips after having a stroke to be helpful.

Talk to your doctor

doctor check up

This is a first for everything for us Stroke Survivors. But it’s true for most others as well. Make sure you’re healthy for travel and have all the required/recommended vaccines for your destination. Or, if you have significant anxiety about the flight, your doctor may be able to prescribe something to help. Keep in mind, however, getting up to walk around will help your circulation, so you don’t want to be passed out the entire flight.

Wear compression Socks

Compressions socks are essentially knee high socks with varied level of tightness. They help to increase the blood flow in your lower legs, ultimately reducing the risk of blood clots and swollen feet from flying. These bad boys are helpful for anyone on a long haul flight, but particularly important for Stroke Survivors.

Try a hooded neck pillow

hooded neck pillow

This gem was the direct result of a Buzzfeed list, and I have zero regrets. I got one for both myself and my fiance. The neck pillow part is inflatable, so while you’re not on the plane it doesn’t take up too much space in your luggage (like a memory foam version would). International flights are ALWAYS cold, so the hood really helps with that. And it also helps with blocking out light. Plus, the extra layer to help block out sound all make for a good snooze. text amazon link

Communicate with whoever you’re traveling with

chat with friends

Let everyone you’re traveling with know your limits. Can you only walk a certain amount before needing breaks? Do you generally hit full fatigue by 5pm and need to settle in for the night? Do stairs need to be limited? Can you not horseback ride or ride rollercoasters? All of these things are perfectly fine to voice, and if you voice them ahead of the trip everyone will *hopefully* be aligned to avoid any tension and frustration.

Make a Plan

planning

We all hope you don’t need one. But you do need a plan no matter what.

Educate EVERYONE you’re traveling with on the signs to watch for that would indicate they need to call for help. Also, have a plan ahead of time for how that should be executed. Make sure everyone has that plan. Include phone numbers and ways to contact key people.

Buy Travel Insurance

lightning storm

All booked? Congrats! Now make sure to research and purchase travel insurance if you’re planning a trip that if you had to miss wouldn’t throw thousands of dollars out the window.

Travel insurance definitely put my mind at ease for my first international trip post stroke. I still had a daily fear that I could experience another stroke.

Travel insurance is good for all sorts of reasons beyond the biggest and scariest. My sister sprained her ankle very badly just days before her honeymoon, but didn’t have trip insurance! Incase something comes up where you can’t travel at all, you’ll be able to cancel and not have wasted all that money.

Review your medical coverage

man on cellphone call

Be prepared should you need to see a doctor or go to hospital. Know how your medical coverage works when you travel. The phone call is well worth it!

Pack a Pill Box

Have your pills in a daily pill box so that you’re sure to take the medicine you need, even though your schedule may have shifted with time zone changes. The visual answer of “did I take my meds?” is very helpful.

Walk around

woman walking on plane

Airplane seats can keep you very still and crammed. Get up and walk around! I typically add to this and walk back towards the bathrooms when it’s not crowded and do some stretching. This will help with circulation and nerves.

I hope you found these traveling tips after having a stroke to be helpful. Now go out and book! Considering a stay at an AirBnb? Check out my thoughts on having the best AirBnb experience.

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Tips for Staying at AirBnbs in a Foreign Country

My coworker is taking his family to Poland this summer and asked me about staying at AirBnbs in a foreign country. I almost exclusively stay at AirBnbs while traveling overseas, so I had a lot to say! I realized I should write it down to share with everyone!

New to AirBnb? Use my link to sign up for Airbnb and get $40 off your first home booking. Plus you’ll get $15 to use toward an experience worth $50 or more. While I’m not sponsored by Airbnb for this post, after you complete your first stay I may get up to a $30 travel credit if you’ve used my link. But overall, I generally believe its one of the best ways to travel abroad.

Why stay at an AirBnb abroad

First, why even consider staying at an AirBnb while you’re abroad? Here’s why I love to book a local’s space.

Relaxation

When traveling abroad you typically go on longer trips with big adventurous days! At some point you need downtime, and its so nice to have a proper living room to sprawl out in to do just that.

Cooking

italian market. pasta and tomatoes.
Photo by Jakub Kapusnak on Unsplash

I love shopping local markets and cooking a meal “at home”. I really feel like a local. Plus, its typically cheaper and makes for a significant memory. Even if you just grab breakfast items from the local grocery, its so nice to have that time saved.

Laundry

Photo by STIL on Unsplash

If you’re able to do laundry you can pack much lighter! When traveling abroad you’re typically gone quite awhile, and renting a place with laundry means you can lug a lot less around – but not smell!

Live like a local

cafe interior
Photo by daan evers on Unsplash

It’s likely you’ll be more of a neighborhood spot instead of a hotel & shopping center. This enriches the experience for me to step into a part of the city that locals spend their time, and not just where tourists are corralled.

Get local tips

couple pointing
Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

If you rent an entire place, or stay with a host you’re likely to get better advice on what to see than any travel guide.

Unique design

european kitchen
Photo by Le Creuset on Unsplash

The space you rent will likely have unique design that tells a lot about the local culture.

Tips for Staying in an AirBnb Abroad

Staying at AirBnbs in a Foreign Country can produce a multitude of issues and anxieties. Here are some tips to make sure your stay at an AirBnb isn’t one.

Coordinated check in

Photo by Dan Riñon on Unsplash
  • My first time abroad I didn’t have any cell service except wifi. I thought I had all my check in info figured out until I actually went to find the place. Now I either make sure I know EVERYTHING about getting to and into the unit, and if possible I pick hosts that offer entry with a digital key lock.

Tell your host a window for your arrival time

Photo by Mai Truong on Unsplash

It’s okay to give a window for your arrival time. This gives you time tp explore a bit and pop into a shop or cafe on your way without too much worry.

Bring small change for local hospitality taxes

Photo by Steve Johnson on Unsplash

When a home or flat is rented out for short term rental they still pay hospitality taxes that are collected on top of your Booking (or sometimes its included). Don’t worry, this request is likely legitimate. Read more about how Airbnb handles hospitality taxes here.

Book with a Superhost

source

Superhosts are experienced hosts who provide a shining example for other hosts, and extraordinary experiences for their guests. Once a host reaches Superhost status, a badge  will automatically appear on their listing and profile to help you identify them.”

Airbnb checks Superhosts’ activity four times a year, to ensure that the program highlights the people who are most dedicated to providing outstanding hospitality.

Search for English-Speaking Hosts

man waving hello in india
Photo by Richard Saunders on Unsplash

Search by English-Speaking Hosts – (or whatever your preferred language is). This is super helpful if you don’t speak the native language. This is under “more filters” and then “host language.” This helps with not just with communication while there, but also with questions ahead of time and coordinating your arrival.

Read the reviews!

This one should go without saying. Its internet purchasing 101. But the details reviews offer PLUS the response that hosts have are extremely informative. For one stay I recently had in Carmel I found out that our host was being dinged for road noise. I live in a big city so I knew this wouldn’t bother me, and it clarified why the place was such an amazing deal!

Download the area to use offline

Having data and cell service abroad can be very expensive, and also unreliable. Make sure to have the area downloaded so you don’t need to use any service to see where you are or which direction is “home.” Here’s how to download areas to use offline. Pro tip, save the address of your stay as a starred item. 🙂

Check out the the Luxe options

Luxe Airbnb home

Some homes are so gorgeous and unique that they’ve been titled as Luxe! See some Luxe homes. In certain areas Luxe homes are surprisingly affordable if you can rally a group!

Save Money on your first booking!

Use my link to sign up for Airbnb and get $40 off your first home booking. Plus you’ll get $15 to use toward an experience worth $50 or more. While I’m not sponsored by Airbnb for this post, after you complete your first stay I may get up to a $30 travel credit if you’ve used my link. But overall, I generally believe its one of the best ways to travel abroad. Hopefully you’ve enjoyed these tips and will have a great time staying at AirBnbs in a Foreign Country.

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Join the community for Young Stroke Survivors and Caregivers.

My mission for Stroke of Colors has always been to connect to other young stroke survivors and form community. I felt extremely isolated going through my stroke and recovery and feeling that I didn’t belong in the community. But, we are out there! So, let’s join forces for good and support each other. AND the caregivers too!

Join the community for Young Stroke Survivors and Caregivers

Please join the community for Young Stroke Survivors and Caregivers via Facebook and share with anyone you thing may be interested. We’re just getting started.

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young stroke survivor support

7 Lulus jumpsuits I’m obsessed with right now, all under $70

This is my personal jumpsuit wishlist, or favorites that I already own. Lulus is one of my recent shopping discoveries and I have spent so much time dreaming on that site and building wishlists!

Are you new to Lulus? Get $20 off your first order, which makes these jumpsuits even more of a deal. While this post is not sponsored by Lulus, if you order via my link I will also get some credit to use while shopping at Lulus. And obviously, I love their stuff. So thank you!

Lulus has easy & free returns, which is a must for when I shop online. In fact, if you return for lulu’s credit they will give you extra money as credit!

I’m obsessed with jumpsuits. I have more than dresses I’m pretty sure. A few of these proudly are in my own closet.

Vacation & Travel Jumpsuits

FINE PRINT BLACK AND WHITE PRINT BACKLESS JUMPSUIT

Absolutely one of my favorite jumpsuits. I originally ordered a L, then returned for an XL bc it wasn’t long enough in my torso. $59 on Lulus. I’m planning on sporting this all around Santa Fe in September.

LOOKIN’ GOOD RUSTY RED STRIPED ONE SHOULDER LINEN JUMPSUIT

This jumpsuit has a flattering waist, POCKETS and a great pattern. Plus, it only $56 from Lulus. *adds to cart*

Date and Night Jumpsuits

JUST BREATHE BLACK JUMPSUIT

Looking for a night out sexy look that will make you do a double take that its actually not a dress? I’d love to wear this as a night out with girl friends or with a bachelorette party. This sexy number is only $66 from Lulus.

THINKING OUT LOUD BACKLESS JUMPSUIT

I’m eyeing this one in white for my own bachelorette party. It’s sexy but sophisticated and has the important factor of being able to get in and out of it yourself. Only $52 on Lulus, in 6 colors!

FLORAL PRINT WIDE-LEG JUMPSUIT

I ordered this one and I was ABSOLUTELY IN LOVE, but I couldn’t get in and out of it on my own with the straps tight enough afterward. If you have someone to help you, its definitely worth it. Its’ really so gorgeous, sexy but classy. $59 on Lulus.

women's dresses

Work to Weekend Jumpuits

SHORT SLEEVE TASSELED CULOTTE JUMPSUIT

I’m a big fan of tassles! This look is so cute and work appropriate. Double win! $64 on Lulus. Plus it comes in Olive, Wine & Navy!

FLORAL PRINT RUFFLED CULOTTE JUMPSUIT

I love this jumpsuit that has a Reformation-vibe, but a third the price. The ruffled cap sleeves makes its a great work to weekend look. Grab this one for $56 on Lulus. The floral print is in blue, red, and lavender.

Save $20 off your first order

Are you new to Lulus? Get $20 off your first order, which makes these jumpsuits even more of a deal. While this post is not sponsored by Lulus, if you order via my link I will also get some credit to use while shopping at Lulus. And obviously, I love their stuff. So thank you!

Fertility talk – How I feel about one of my best friends having a baby.

Okay, so this is actually about the fertility talk and the ticking clock.

The honest answer for how I feel about one of my best friends having a baby is I feel a confused and a little broken. Of course I’m ecstatic for my friend and her husband. This is something they really wanted and tried for. Plus there were scary moments along the way, so healthy baby and mom is an incredible thing.

I also don’t have conviction that I don’t want children either. I’m in limbo, but my fertility clock certainly isn’t.

My feelings are about how I react so [seemingly] different than everyone else about babies and children in general. I don’t have the baby fever. And the thing is- I also don’t have conviction that I don’t want children either. I’m in limbo, but my fertility clock certainly isn’t.

Fertility Talk

Fertility talk time! I discovered a fertility kit from an online provider (thanks, Facebook ads) to test my blood and give me a prediction about my remaining egg reserve based on a hormone called AMH (Anti-Mullerian Hormone). The test was $169 and I would be able to do the test while still on my birth control.

I decided to spend the money and get some answers. I had learned from talking to friends most doctors don’t support fertility testing until you’ve already been trying without success. That doesn’t sound like a good game plan to me. Its much better to have warnings and get ahead of issues if you can, obviously.

My results told me I was on the about the lowest tick of “normal” for the AMH range of my age group (31). While it was still “normal” it definitely wasn’t reassuring. So, I started researching to learn about freezing eggs.

Freezing eggs

I had thought about freezing my eggs before casually but had never looked into it. Since I hadn’t actually done much research or deep thinking I was surprised to learn that freezing eggs requires IVF to use them. That seems pretty obvious now.

When I took my test results to my annual appointment with my OBGYN she informed me that the service I used was employing old logic that has since been proven to actually not have any correlation between the hormone and egg reserve.

What I also learned was that freezing eggs would cost around $10k, and then you’d spend a few hundred dollars a year storing them. She said freezing embryos (fertilized eggs) increases the chance of having a live birth later on. My doctor also noted that she sees the best time to freeze eggs is between 32-36. To me this was the best news during my fertility talk.

I’m rounding into the 2nd half of 31, so I don’t need to make any decisions hastily. But boy the cost of ensuring I could bear a biological child is hefty. Not to mention the price of delivering that child and then raising that child. $$$$!

The Stroke


My stroke would definitely play a role in me bearing a child. I would have to keep on hand a large team of doctors. When you’re pregnant the body naturally wants to clot as a safeguard against losing too much blood during labor. Obviously, clotting is an issue for me. I would need to have my neurologist, hematologist, OBGYN and primary all working together to oversee my care.

My fiancé and I have talked about if we want kids, if they need to be biologically ours and our current feelings in general. Neither of us feel a strong inclination either way. He’s mentioned that his mother has said she could see us adopting lots of babies. I thought that was sweet.

“One of you needs to REALLY WANT children, so that they can keep you up when it gets hard.”

My last trip to Dallas, I spent a long time talking to a good friend of mine who is a few years older and further down the “life events path”. One thing she said has really stuck with me, “One of you needs to REALLY WANT children, so that they can keep you up when it gets hard.”

For now I’m comforted in the fact that I don’t need to make any big decisions, that my fiancé supports having or not having a family, and that our family could look any number of ways (including adoption, only fur babies, trying naturally, etc).

If you feel in limbo about what you want, I hope you feel a little less alone. Feel free to comment if you can relate!

How I feel about one of my best friends having a baby.

The honest answer is I feel a confused and a little broken. Of course I’m ecstatic for my friend and her husband. This is something they really wanted and tried for. Plus there were scary moments along the way, so healthy baby and mom is an incredible thing.

I also don’t have conviction that I don’t want children either. I’m in limbo, but my fertility clock certainly isn’t.

My feelings are about how I react so [seemingly] different than everyone else about babies and children in general. I don’t have the baby fever. And the thing is- I also don’t have conviction that I don’t want children either. I’m in limbo, but my fertility clock certainly isn’t.

I discovered a fertility kit from an online provider (thanks, Facebook ads) to test my blood and give me a prediction about my remaining egg reserve based on a hormone called AMH (Anti-Mullerian Hormone). The test was $169 and I would be able to do the test while still on my birth control.

I decided to spend the money and get some answers. I had learned from talking to friends most doctors don’t support fertility testing until you’ve already been trying without success. That doesn’t sound like a good game plan to me. Its much better to have warnings and get ahead of issues if you can, obviously.

My results told me I was on the about the lowest tick of “normal” for the AMH range of my age group (31). While it was still “normal” it definitely wasn’t reassuring. So, I started researching to learn about freezing eggs.

I had thought about freezing my eggs before casually but had never looked into it. Since I hadn’t actually done much research or deep thinking I was surprised to learn that freezing eggs requires IVF to use them. That seems pretty obvious now.

When I took my test results to my annual appointment with my OBGYN she informed me that the service I used was employing old logic that has since been proven to actually not have any correlation between the hormone and egg reserve.

What I also learned was that freezing eggs would cost around $10k, and then you’d spend a few hundred dollars a year storing them. She said freezing embryos (fertilized eggs) increases the chance of having a live birth later on. My doctor also noted that she sees the best time to freeze eggs is between 32-26. To me this was the best news.

I’m rounding into the 2nd half of 31, so I don’t need to make any decisions hastily. But boy the cost of ensuring I could bear a biological child is hefty. Not to mention the price of delivering that child and then raising that child. $$$$!

The Stroke
My stroke would definitely play a role in me bearing a child. I would have to keep on hand a large team of doctors. When you’re pregnant the body naturally wants to clot as a safeguard against losing too much blood during labor. Obviously, clotting is an issue for me. I would need to have my neurologist, hematologist, OBGYN and primary all working together to oversee my care.

My fiancé and I have talked about if we want kids, if they need to be biologically ours and our current feelings in general. Neither of us feel a strong inclination either way. He’s mentioned that his mother has said she could see us adopting lots of babies. I thought that was sweet.

“One of you needs to REALLY WANT children, so that they can keep you up when it gets hard.”

My last trip to Dallas, I spent a long time talking to a good friend of mine who is a few years older and further down the “life events path”. One thing she said has really stuck with me, “One of you needs to REALLY WANT children, so that they can keep you up when it gets hard.”

For now I’m comforted in the fact that I don’t need to make any big decisions, that my fiancé supports having or not having a family, and that our family could look any number of ways (including adoption, only fur babies, trying naturally, etc).

If you feel in limbo about what you want, I hope you feel a little less alone.

My Bucket List and Why You Shouldn’t Wait Until You’re in Trouble to Make One

Do you watch A Million Little Things? We do, and a recent episode that had Maggie trying to get to Plymouth Rock for her bucket list got me thinking about mine again.

Some people find it morbid to have an actual bucket list when you’re young, but I see it as goals to work towards accomplishing while I still can. Again, YOLO. I never got very serious about having a bucket list myself until I had a stroke and signed a paper that gave doctors permission to try and save my life, even if it meant possibly killing me or leaving me severely impaired. Before that it was just a figure of speech.

Now I think it’s important to create a bucket list before you’re faced with the reality of your own death. Hey, it’s going to happen to everyone. By making a bucket list you’re forced to identify what is important for you to experience. Remember not all of these items need to be big ritzy things. Do you want to learn a second language? Take a trip on your own? This list has no limits!

I’ve already made some progress on my list. In no particular order, my bucket list is:

Be Given A Giant Check

A giant check prize. team trivia
Checked off in 2013. Pun intended. 🙂

Status: Done! 🎉
Story: After I moved back to Chicago, I played Team Trivia (i.e. bar trivia) frequently with my sister and her friends at Halsted’s (it’s closed now). Our team did so well that we went to regionals! At regionals our team came in second. BUT the team that came in first was also first nationally! They won such a big prize from that that they let the bar give us the regional prize… which was a GIANT CHECK for $150… it really only covered our food and drink bill for the group. Still, it was a moment I’ll never forget.

Eat at Alinea in Chicago,

including the artwork dessert and edible balloon!

Alinea edible balloon
Alinea, The Gallery. 2019


Status: Done! 🎈
Story: My boyfriend is a wonderful advocate of not waiting for a special occasion if you’re excited or passionate about something. This includes presents, self care, and also self indulgence! I’m so glad he reminded me how important it was to experience this restaurant, and even more importantly- to stay present for it. I kept my phone away until almost the end of the tasting to focus on every detail.

Be a contestant on Wheel of Fortune with my Mom

Status: Still a dream
Story: My parents named me after a Wheel of Fortune contestant when I was born. I think we have a great story to get on the show. AND my mom is seriously so talented at solving puzzles.

Admittedly, I would be extremely nervous to make a fool out of myself.

Dance en pointe again

swan lake ballerina
Sway Lake 2006

Status: Attempted
Story: I grew up dancing fairly seriously (pic below) and started to train en pointe (i.e. toe shoes) when I was 11. At 31 it was depressing to realize I had not danced en pointe longer than I had ever danced en pointe.

I plan to continue going to ballet and work on exercises to make me strong enough for pointe. I need to stay mindful of my capabilities post stroke, but I’m hopeful I can make progress.

Fly First Class on an International Flight

I promise not to be this obnoxious though. 🙃

Status: Still wishing & saving
Story: This costs soooo much money and I cannot find a way to justify it, but man o man would this feel like pure luxury. One day it would be nice to experience this. True bucket list item!

Dance with my Dad at my wedding

Status: Feeling hopeful 🙂
Story: My father is currently 72 and I am not engaged. So, I don’t blame you if you think this is a weird one to have, or at least admit to having on my bucket list. But, the truth is there is so much that can happen in life that we simply don’t plan for.

This is probably the most depressing thing on my list, but also the most beautiful. I really hope that I get to share this moment with my Dad. It would mean A.) we are both alive in good health & B.) I’m lucky enough to share the rest of my life with a partner.

Update: IM ENGAGED! 💍 so I’m feeling very good about this one.

Die my Hair a Bold Color

Status: The closest I’ve come to this is attaching feathers to my hair.
Story: I would love to have my hair pink or lavender. But the truth is I’m too chicken shit to actually do it. I definitely have plans to do this when I become a senior citizen. I realize I need to take my own advice and try this sooner than later!

Wave at Waving Bears


Have you seen these cuties on the internet?

I absolutely want to have a bear sassily wave at me like I’m it’s best friend and its encouraging me to go and do the wild thing.

Luckily my bucket list has a few check marks and wonderful memories already built. I hope you make progress on yours. Do you have a bucket list? Do you have any suggestions for mine?