About wendy nielsen

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Happy Monday! Let’s Talk Depression

Happy Monday! Let’s talk about depression.

A little back story, if you will. In 2008 when I was diagnosed with breast cancer, my oncologist prescribed Effexor XR to help alleviate the hot flashes I was having caused by chemotherapy. Effexor is an anti-depressant medication and often used off label to treat hot flashes. I took it for several years post treatment because I simply couldn’t wean off the drug. Effexor withdrawal causes incredibly debilitating side effects and I thought I was bound to be on it for life until I found a doctor who prescribed Prozac. You can read about that process of Prozac bridging here.

While I was taking Effexor for hot flashes, I was also prescribed Wellbutrin XL for a mild case of post cancer depression. You would think the Effexor would have helped with the depression too but it wasn’t. It was enough to manage the hot flashes but not enough to alleviate the depression. My GP suggested adding Wellbutrin XL. So, I took two anti-depressants for a good length of time.

When I was finally able to wean from Effexor, I felt ready to break up with Wellbutrin, too. I was just done being on all these meds that made me feel tethered. I was finally med free and felt normal and healthy and ready to move on.

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Fast forward to summer 2015. It had been nearly three years since taking any anti-depressant. I started to recognize changes in me that I knew weren’t normal. Mornings felt like Groundhog’s Day, my body felt like grinding gears, tasks looked like hurdles, social activities felt like obligations. I was bitchy, moody and mean. I was impatient with everything and everybody. I was completely self-loating, I didn’t care about my friendships, and my marriage was suffering. Everything that I had ever liked doing was no longer of any interest to me.

Yet, I pretended like there was nothing wrong.

To the faces at my daughter’s school, my friends, the people on Facebook, I would just put on a smile and act like everything was fine. I remember coming home and feeling exhausted because it would take so much effort to pretend like everything was OK. Existing in the world with a busy schedule and obligations and making small talk all the while just wanting to be left alone is really hard to bear.

I can’t pinpoint my breaking point. I knew things weren’t right when the one thing I really loved to do – make videos with Megan for Long Story Short – had started to lose its luster. It used to be a high that would sustain me for days but it was turning into an opportunity to self hate. We also went on a once-in-a-lifetime family vacation and it was all very blah to me. I found myself fixated on other families who were having fun while I was trying to figure out how to do the same.

I finally called my GP and a therapist.

The conversation with the GP started out as me telling her I didn’t feel good. I talked around the likelihood that I might be depressed. I suggested the lack of diet and exercise might being the culprit to my moodiness. I was embarrassed to ask about depression and afraid to jump into another anti-depressant after feeling like I didn’t need them anymore. I eventually agreed to trying out a new prescription.

Meeting with the therapist was much less anxiety ridden. I reached out to a therapist I had seen while undergoing treatment for cancer. I sat down and within 15 minutes had explained why I thought I was depressed. It was her professional opinion that I was indeed dealing with major depressive disorder and had agreed medication and therapy was my best course of action.

All the kinks haven’t been totally worked out yet. We’re still fine tuning the dosage of the new medication I’m taking. But, therapy has been wonderful. It’s been a soft place to land while I figure out the self-loathing and how to repair broken relationships. I feel lighter and interested in things and people again. Life doesn’t feel like a hurdle everyday anymore.

When I smile now, I’m not faking it.

How To Be Your Best Self in 2016

As I type this there is a cold glass of Coca-Cola on one side of me and a sugar cookie on the other. I’m already failing two of my 2016 resolutions which were 1. stop drinking Coke and 2. cut the sugar. But, if I’m being totally honest, I haven’t given these new year resolutions much of a try even though it’s now seven days into my NEW YEAR, NEW ME outlook on life.

Look at the photo below. My almost 8 year old daughter brought it home from school earlier this week. These goals weren’t exclusively hers but a collection of suggestions from her class of 2nd graders. I saw it and thought there was definitely a lesson I could learn from it.

For the most part, every goal is a positive one. “Eat more fruit and veggies,” “Make healthy choices,” “Be a good friend,” “Always try my best” and so on. There isn’t one that says “DON’T DO THIS” or “DON’T DO THAT.” And for some reason, to this 40 year old who has never once kept a resolution, my daughter’s list of New Year’s goals actually feels like ones I could achieve if I tried.

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Feeling inspired, I’ve replaced my destined to fail resolutions for her positive and encouraging goals.

1. Drink More Water
2. Make Healthy Choices
3. Eat More Fruits and Veggies
4. Be Brave
5. Get More Energy

It feels simple. And sure, there aren’t any actionable steps attached on HOW to do these things but I think I’ll be ok if I just follow my kid’s advice to “Be Your Best Self.”

Be Your Best Self

Megan and I were asked to create a Realistic Resolutions For 2016 video for She Speaks TV! Click on over to our website to see the video! Megan also shares her favorite planner essentials for getting organized.

Officially Nuts: A Second Blog

megan and wendy blogMegan and I have been making videos over on our YouTube channel – Long Story Short with Megan and Wendy –  for almost 18 months now. It started out as a fun side project considering we both have blogs and lives outside of the internet. But, it turned out being the one thing we liked doing the most.

The past year has been crazy in terms of growth. No, we don’t have a million YouTube subscribers. We actually have less than 1,000 but it’s all relative. We have worked with some great brands, we signed with a multi-channel network, we’ve collaborated with other channels, and we’ve made new friends.

The best part has been that we’ve laughed a lot. We spend at least one morning a week cracking each other up in front of ridiculous lighting and cursing at the camera for always turning off at the 11 minute mark during recording.

When we started we vowed it would just be video. Then we decided we needed an Instagram to help promote the channel. And then Twitter. We finally added a Facebook page to round out the social media insanity.

That was it we said.

Then a regular viewer suggested we needed a blog and we love viewer feedback. So, we created a blog.

What’s great is we are in love with the blog. We embed our new videos there each week plus we add new and additional content almost five days a week.

So friends, I invite you to come over to Megan and Wendy and see what’s happening over there. We’ve got a holiday gift guide, top ten list, behind-the-scenes and OH! we have a great giveaway happening too!!

I’d love to see you over there.

 

 

Superstitious After All

I finally made good on a request a friend asked of me. She needed a photo of me holding a sign that read the number of years I have been a cancer survivor. She’s making a video.

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I paused as soon as I drew the heart on the exclamation point. Seven years. I wondered if I should actually write seven years. It won’t technically be lucky number seven until October 23rd. Rationalizing that I couldn’t write 6 years, 11 months and 7 days, I drew the number, snapped the picture and buried the sign in a stack of papers.

I wouldn’t consider myself superstitious, though.

I make wishes for safe travels before boarding an airplane and always count an even number of seats from the aisle to where we sit in a movie theater but I think these things are acts of being anxious, not superstitious.

So what’s with being superstitious over 16 days?

For me, it’s about due course. Holding off on celebrating allows me some sense of control that I don’t fully understand.

Though I read an interesting article from the Journal of Clinical Oncology that explains my reluctance to turn the calendar page. It says “superstitions provide people with the sense that they have done one more thing to try to ensure the outcome for which they are looking and may actually result in a placebo effect, relieving anxiety and promoting positive thoughts.”

So I wait for the 23rd and hope the heavens above recognize that I haven’t been boastful or overconfident this year and grant me an eighth.

Maybe I am superstitious after all.

Too Fat for Stitch Fix?

Last week I received my 18th Stitch Fix box. At this rate, some might consider me an optimist and others might call me a glutton for punishment.

Let me back it up here. Stitch Fix is a monthly subscription service where a box of brand new clothes arrives on your doorstep. Inside is filled with pants, shorts or dresses, blouses and knit tops, sweaters or outerwear, and accessories. Their stylists put together your monthly Fix based on a profile created when you sign up. The cost of the service is $20. You keep and pay for any items you like and mail back the other pieces you don’t like. If you hate everything and send it all back, it costs you $20. If you keep anything, the $20 is applied to the purchase.

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The Stitch Fix model is fun, effortless shopping for busy women. So many of my friends love the service and rave about the convenience. There is also a lot of complaining on the internet about Stitch Fix, mostly that the price point is too high for brands that can be found at stores like Nordstrom Rack.

My thoughts? I really love when that box arrives. I am always hopeful for what’s inside. Will there be a pair of shorts that don’t make my legs look like tree stumps? How about the perfect pair of distressed denim jeans to replace my beloved ones from the Gap? Or a blouse that will finally make me look put together for mornings at school drop off but that I can also wear to record videos for Long Story Short.

I absolutely love the convenience because I really hate shopping for myself these days. I’d much rather be disappointed in my own home rather than do the walk of shame from the dressing room and field questions like “How’d those work out for you?”

I do agree that the price point on some items can be high. I’m willing to pay a premium for quality clothing, especially denim, but this gal who typically shops at Old Navy and Target chokes on a $70 knit top and $40 necklace. Not to mention, I have purchased items in that price point from Stitch Fix and have found the quality to be on par with the fast fashion from my favorite retail stores.

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What does any of this have to do with being too fat for Stitch Fix? Well, over the last 18 months my biggest complaint with the service is that the clothes do not fit. Now, of course a lot of that burden falls on me. If I lost the ten (or 20) pounds I’ve been saying I’m going to lose for the last 7 years, I might actually fit into the pieces they send me. But that aside, I’m really disappointed at the lack of variety they have for women my size.

Real talk here: I am a true size 12 and I typically wear a size large. With some brands, I wear an XL to accommodate my larger chest and long arms. I’m also tall, so I like pants that are long. I’ve fiddled with my Stitch Fix style profile several times and have given tons of feedback to my stylist about selecting brands that aren’t cut so slim or sending pieces that fit my dimensions. And each month, I receive a pair of pants that are too tight and too short and shirts that are too boxy and drapey.

I finally realized I might be too fat for Stitch Fix when I started keeping the accessories from each Fix and sending all the clothes back.

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I’ve been dealing with immense feelings of self-hate for many months now. A lot of it has to do with how I feel, how I look physically, and since turning 40, how I am aging. I’ve been trying hard to navigate these rough waters. Part of the internal dialogue is conceding to this is who I am now and the other is screaming NO! YOU ARE NOT THIS PERSON! I certainly try to make changes and then find myself slipping into old habits because I am overcommitted to everything else in life except myself.

This all of course is not any fault of Stitch Fix. Yet, I find myself annoyed at this service that can’t accommodate styling the average size of an American woman.


With that said, I’m going to wrap up today’s blog. I would love if you left me a comment about anything I’ve written here. Are you using Stitch Fix? Tell me about your experience so far and what kind of tips you might have. Where do you shop for clothes (I have another blog post brewing about that dilemma as well)? Also, if you have dealt with similar feelings of self-loathing, I would love your advice on how to break free from it.

Top 5 Favorite YouTube Channels

If you would have asked me two years ago what I watched on YouTube I would have told you that I didn’t watch YouTube at all. Why would I want to watch cute cat videos or kids playing video games? It wasn’t until I wrote this post about makeup that I learned about haul videos and beauty tutorials.

Megan and I just published our 100th video last week over on Long Story Short and we love what we do. We have our fingers crossed for exciting things in the coming year.

People are always asking what I watch so here are my favorite YouTube channels.

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Tati from Glam Life Guru
If you want to learn anything about makeup, this is your channel. Tati uploads videos Monday – Friday with tips and tutorials, hauls and product reviews for both drugstore and luxury makeup brands.

Essie Button & Essie Button Vlogs
Estee Lalonde has two channels that she regularly publishes on. Essie Button is beauty tutorials, hauls and favorites. Her vlog channel is more about life in London with her boyfriend and dog.

LeighAnnSays & LeighAnnVlogs
Another beauty and makeup YouTuber. Are you seeing a trend here? Her vlog channel is fairly new and it chronicles what she does on the weekend. She’s young but I think she’s really funny.

MamaKatTV
Love her weekly Pinterest drink videos. Love more when her friend Marci sits in on a taste test. Plus, she’s just really good people and supportive of our channel.

Claire Marshall from Hey Claire
Incredible editing, incredible content. Claire create beauty and fashion videos but shares so much more than that. This video about her mom was heartbreaking.

Leave me a comment and let me know if you watch any of these YouTubers and what you think. You should know that there is much more on YouTube than beauty videos but these are my current favorites.

I Went to VidCon and All I Got Was A Lousy T-Shirt

Megan and I attended VidCon 2015 last week in Anaheim, CA. It was a no-brainer that we should go since the conference exists for YouTube creators and fans. Plus, we are local so we could both attend without committing to major travel.

But, I went to VidCon and all I got was a t-shirt.

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It pains me to write that I didn’t really enjoy the conference because there were definitely moments of fun and laughter and making new friends. But, our intent in going was to learn. VidCon added a new creator track this year and its purpose was to be educational. However, every session we attended turned into a Q&A with a panel of successful YouTubers that satisfied the fans but fell flat for those of us really wanting concrete tips or advice.

Watch our VidCon 2015 Vlog

We ended up attending very few sessions overall.

The highlights were meeting up with our friend Jessi from SHUGGILIPPO.  I throughly enjoyed our hallway chat on day two where she shared advice and her experiences. I also really enjoyed that she got us into a pretty swanky party where we day drank and shared the same air as John Green and Grace Helbig.

I loved meeting Deva from My Life Suckers and Hollie from Baby Gizmo. Both were lovely, transparent and engaging. Megan and I also made a collab video and lunched with Marianne and Julia from HGTV Handmade.

Watch our Green Tea KitKat Taste Test with Marianne & Julia

Will Megan and I attend VidCon 2016? Never say never but for now I’ll just enjoy my new sleep shirt.

We would love for you to subscribe to our YouTube channel, if you aren’t already! Hit the red subscribe button when you watch one of the videos above and you’ll never miss a new video.

Tig Notaro Documentary on Netflix

I had stumbled across a fantastic documentary just days after I was diagnosed with breast cancer. It was like divine intervention. Something had willed me to sit on my couch that morning and mindlessly scroll deep into the channel guide. The documentary followed a young woman through surgery and treatment and it totally and completely altered my perception of what I had anticipated for myself. I was and am still so thankful for that documentary because it left me hopeful.

I felt the same way after recently watching Tig on Netflix.

Tig Notaro documentary

Tig Notaro is a comedian. She has a very distinct style and voice that I like very much. I had first learned of who she was last summer after it was announced she would speak at a blogging conference I had planned to attend. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to attend her keynote at the conference but by then had learned about her story and the groundbreaking stand-up set she performed in 2012 where she opened with telling the audience she had cancer.

“Good evening. Hello. I have cancer.” Tig Notaro

I settled in earlier this month to see what the Tig documentary had to offer.

I laughed at her unique way she tells a story. I cried for her loss. I felt empathetic for her struggles and understood her desires. My heart broke all over that documentary and I learned that her story is so much more than having had breast cancer. Tig is about love, loss, fear and hope.

I highly recommend Tig for both my friends who have experienced cancer and for those who have simply been thrown a curve ball in their lives.

Tig is available exclusively on Netflix.

Disclosure: I am part of the Netflix #StreamTeam and gladly share my honest thoughts and opinions on their service each month. Netflix has provided me with a free subscription and device to stream their incredible content.

The Cure for the Afternoon Summer Slump

A few years ago, I had a friend declare that her household was going screen-free for the summer. My reaction was one of horror. There is just absolutely no way our family would make it through three months of summer days without a little TV down time.

Admittedly, we make it most of the morning and early afternoon without the television on. I have my favorite weekly podcasts and YouTube channels I like to listen to or watch as we putter around the house getting ready for the day. My daughter might watch one or two episodes of her favorite shows in the early morning or during breakfast and then we are out the door.

But then comes that dreaded afternoon slump. We’re usually hungry and tired and just need an hour or so to chill out with a snack and something good to watch. Thank goodness for Netflix! My daughter and I can find something to watch together or we can sit on opposite sides of the couch with our iPads and watch our own shows.

Here’s what to watch on Netflix this summer plus don’t miss our new go-to favorite afternoon snack below.

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Family Friendly or Movies Mom Can Stand Watching, Too

Bad Hair Day
12 Mile Road
The Muppets Take Manhattan
Bug Off
House Arrest
High School Musical 2

Mom’s Side of the Couch (with Headphones!)

Pretty Little Liars
Orange is the New Black
Wentworth
Chasing Life
Cake

Little One’s Picks

Bindi’s Boot Camp
An American Girl: McKenna Shoots for the Stars
A Second Chance
Monster High 13 Wishes
Cupcake Wars

Our go-to snacks include kid-friendly pizza muffins, apple nachos, salty-spicy popcorn and watermelon pizza. The watermelon pizza is so easy to make: slice watermelon into triangles and top with any sliced fruit and shredded coconut. Easy and healthy, perfect for a mid-afternoon snack.

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netflix disclosure Thanks to Netflix for providing me with a subscription and device to stream content. All opinions are my own. You can find me on the couch.

Peek Inside What’s #NewAtTheCube

In 1998 I worked in Santa Ana where on one cloudy morning the company’s CFO suggested we take a walking field trip to a museum ground breaking event happening near our office. We were up for anything that wasn’t work so we went. However, our walk was immediately cut short as soon as we crossed over the parking lot lines. VPOTUS Al Gore was the speaker at the event and the area had been secured by secret service and sharp shooters. Back to work we went.

We have been to Discovery Cube Orange County a ton of times since 1998 because my daughter loves the hands-on science exhibits. We’ve been anxiously awaiting the expansion of the museum and were lucky enough to get a sneak peek of the brand new exhibit earlier this week.

The remodel offers tons of new permanent exhibits including a virtual helicopter tour of Orange County’s Irvine Ranch, a water gallery, an inspector training course, an inventor’s workshop and more. The brand new 10,000 sq. ft. theater will hold visiting exhibits where the International Exhibit of Sherlock Holmes is now on display.

Discovery Cube OC

The museum also built a new Bean Sprouts for kid-friendly, healthy eating. They offer everything from sandwiches, pizza, salads and a coffee bar. They use allergy-free ingredients and work in a peanut-free kitchen.

Discovery Cube Orange County

Discovery Cube Orange County is giving away a family membership! Enter to win using the form below and good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thanks to Discovery Cube Orange County for hosting a fun night!