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Happy Friday! Let’s Talk About Self Hate

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I like that I’ve stumbled upon the start of a series here on the blog. There’s something about the juxtaposition between a happy, positive sentiment and a topic I probably wouldn’t share with you if we ran into each other at school drop off or Trader Joe’s.

So, for today, welcome to Happy Friday! Let’s Talk About Self-Hate. It might be Happy Tuesday or Sunday in the coming weeks, depending on when the mood strikes to write about uncomfortable subjects. And the subject matter might alternate from the things I’m working on in therapy to my fears with cancer. It just all depends.

Last time, I wrote about my struggle with depression and I want to thank you for your comments and the messages I received. Honestly, I immediately regretted hitting publish on that post – for so many reasons – and a few that lead me to today’s topic of self-hate.

When I started seeing my therapist, I told her that self-loating had become a major part of the funk I had been dealing with. She asked what that sounded like but I could only explain that it was the overwhelming feeling of not liking myself. Everything from the way I look to how I keep house to my relationships.

She wanted specifics, though. She wanted to know exactly what I was telling myself so I began to keep a journal.

As I rode the elevator down from her third floor office, I felt happy. Then it started. “Who do you think you are needing therapy? With all the atrocities happening in our world, boo-hoo, you feel blue.”

I banged out my depression post that same week. As soon as the comments came in, I felt embarrassed and ashamed about what I have been dealing with. “You’re damaged, broken” that voice told me. That afternoon, my daughter wanted a play date with a friend that didn’t work out. “That mom probably read your post and she doesn’t trust having her child around you,” I thought.

When I got together with friends for dinner, I found myself sitting quietly as I thought “You offer nothing to the conversation. You’re dumb.” I stumbled over the pronunciation of something on the menu and I berated myself for the error all night.

The group dynamic is really bizarre to me. I only realized recently that I often shut down in group settings. I always thought it was because I was shy. Truth to told, I’m not especially shy. Yes, I might be an introvert but I’m social and I really enjoy hanging with others that lift me up. But, when I beat myself up over little things like the pronunciation of words or feeling like I can’t bring anything to the conversation, I turn into someone who appears to be totally disinterested. I’m not, I’m just freaking out inside.

Even sharing these thoughts even now makes me feel ridiculous. As I type, I’m thinking “You are a moron. This is so self-serving. Are you just seeking empathy with this post?” Another voice says “No. I’m looking to connect with others who have had similar experiences.” Talk about juxtaposition.

The journal has helped me remember what it is that I’m telling myself. It has totally helped me identify what’s contributing to my bubble of self-hate. I like the direction I’m moving in. My therapist has given me some tools on how to counter those voices with the hope of finally deflating my bubble.

January Netflix Binge: The Carrie Diaries

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I watched and liked the original Sex and the City series and have seen both movies but flat out ignored the Netflix suggestion to watch The Carrie Diaries. However, after finding myself watching the first SATC movie on basic cable earlier this month, I decided I would give the defunct CW teen series a go.

But only after I cried my eyes out during the scene where Charlotte protects Carrie from Big after he leaves her at the alter. It kills me every single time.

Based on the YA novels written by Candace Bushnell, The Carrie Diaries is considered a prequel to her 1996 smash Sex and the City. As we all know, her book was turned into the long running HBO series. I think the CW hoped they would have captured the same success with The Carrie Diaries but sadly the show was canceled after two seasons.

I liked The Carrie Diaries more than I thought I would. The series begins with Carrie as a high school student living in Connecticut in 1984. She has been scarred by the recent death of her mother and lives with her hostile sister and widowed father. We are led to believe that Carrie Bradshaw is on the outskirts of the popular crowd at her high school. She has a gang of stereotypical high school girlfriends and a nemesis in the girl who gets all the boys. She is obsessed with “the city” and convinces her dad that she take an internship at a law firm after school in New York. This is where she eventually meets the editor of Interview Magazine and thus finds her voice as a writer. And of course there is a love interest named Sebastian Kydd.

This pretty much sums up the two seasons.

What I loved about The Carrie Diaries:

The soundtrack. It made me want to only listen to the 80s station on my satellite radio. Deeper cuts from the Cure, Devo, ‘Til Tuesday, Bryan Ferry and more were featured which made the show less pop and more underground.

The costuming for Carrie was gorgeous. I’m really not sure most 16 year olds in 1984 would have had the means to wear what we saw Carrie in but it sure was fashion eye candy for the viewer. I love this Tumblr page dedicated to the wardrobe.

AnnaSophia Robb was really charming as Carrie. I was left wondering why we don’t see more of her on TV or movies.

What I didn’t like:

The wig they put on AnnaSophia Robb during the first season. It was a hot mess of blonde ringlet curls. I’m pretty sure she wore her natural hair in the pilot episode but she definitely had a wig on in the episodes that followed. She was back to natural curls during season 2 and it was so obvious that they even mentioned how she had changed her hair after her summer in the city.

Her high school friends and their irrelevant story lines. Of course, a teen soap needs a cast and I think having a core group of gal pals foreshadows the importance of friendships to Carrie for later but blah. The story lines were painful, with the exception of Donna Ladonna who redeems herself as bad girl to empathetic friend.

What Surprised Me:

Maybe I’m getting too old for a teen series but I was shocked at the references to cocaine use. I get that was a thing in the 80s but it just surprised about how often it came up.

You can stream The Carrie Diaries on Netflix now. Have you seen what’s new on Netflix for February? You bet I’ll be watching Fuller House later in the month.

I am part of the Netflix StreamTeam and gladly share all my binge worthy finds. All opinions are my own.

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.

December Netflix Binge: Making A Murderer

For December I set out to binge watch all six seasons of The L Word and share my thoughts on the series for this month’s Netflix Stream Team post. Well, I did finish all 70 episodes and really, really loved it. In fact, I was sad when it was over and still find myself thinking about what happened to those characters.

But, my review will have to wait because the internet blew up right before Christmas with everyone talking about the original Netflix true crime documentary series called Making A Murderer. After all the gifts were opened on the 25th, I settled in with my iPad for an hour and watched the first of the 10-episode series.

This pretty much sums up the first episode.

Episodes 2 through 5.

And then episodes 6 through 9.

And finally, the last episode.

Making A Murderer follows the arrest of Steven Avery over a ten year period. I don’t want to give any spoilers away because I really feel the series is worth watching, especially if you find true crime drama interesting. I finished all ten episodes in two days and I’ve been left dumbfounded at its conclusion.

Have you watched Making A Murderer? Tell me what you thought in the comments below. I’ll be back with another Netflix Binge in January.

I’m lucky to be part of the Netflix Stream Team. This post is non-sponsored however Netflix has provided me with an account and device to stream from the Netflix library. Gifs via Giphy.com

First Impression: SkinMedica Vitalize Peel

I recently visited CosmetiCare for a treatment that had me a little worried about the outcome: a Vitalize Peel.

My skin can be incredibly sensitive and I was once advised by an esthetician that I should refrain from doing anything too aggressive to my face because of the fragile capillaries and active areas of rosacea.

I met once again with Lisa McCoy who talked to me at length about what the Vitalize Peel could offer and what I should expect in the days after. I was really worried my face might end up red and raw but Lisa assured me I would probably only experience peeling similar to a sunburn. She showed me several before and after photographs, including ones of herself.

The purpose of the Vitalize Peel is to smooth fine lines, wrinkles and skin roughness.

Lisa had me hold a hand held fan during the procedure because the chemicals used do get warm and “sting” the skin. The process is three-step. First, the skin is prepped with Isopropyl Alcohol. Next is the peeling solution which is made up of Salicyclic Acid, Resorcinol, and Lactic Acid. The last step is Retinol. Lisa applied it to my entire face with exception to the eye area and to my décolleté.

My face felt tight for two days afterward. I started to see the skin get dry and lift on the night of day two. The third morning I woke to a full face of dry skin. Lisa advised that a soft peel was the goal and suggested using coconut oil all over at night and a SPF during the day.

The amount of peeling was more than I expected and had seen on other patient photographs. Additionally, I saw peeling around my eyes and down my neck even though the chemical wasn’t applied to those areas. The only area that didn’t peel was my décolleté but Lisa said that cell turnover is happening even though not visible.

Unfortunately my timing for doing the Vitalize Peel wasn’t great. I had several video projects to film that week and thought I wouldn’t be so dry. Luckily with a lot of makeup and great lighting, the peeling wasn’t totally obvious on camera but you can see the a little bit of dryness under my eyes and a flake of skin on my cheek in this picture from that week (four days out from the day I received the Vitalize Peel).

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The results post peel have been glorious. My face is baby soft and the fine lines on my forehead have smoothed out nicely. I have long struggled with one patch of extremely dry skin on my cheek and it is completely gone now. My makeup blends beautifully and my skin looks luminous. I wish I had seen better results on my décolleté.

The following week I was in front of the camera again for more videos and though still a little dry around the hair line, I thought my skin looked great.

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CosmetiCare is located at 1101 Bayside Drive, Ste. 100 in Corona Del Mar. (949) 537-2367

Visit CosmetiCare on Facebook

I’ve been fortunate to be part of the CosmetiCare Moms ambassador program for several months now. This post is sponsored however all opinions are my own.

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.

 

 

November Netflix Binge: River

I’m not really sure what it is about this time of year and my need for dark crime dramas. Last year around this time, I tore through The Killing, Happy Valley and The Fall. Over the holiday weekend, I found myself searching Netflix for something gritty. I love getting into bed with the lights out and the iPad streaming well into the late night hours.

I found River.

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River is a new crime drama new to Netflix. The six episode mini-series debuted earlier this fall on BBC and stars Stellan Skarsgård as a tortured police detective who shoulders the investigation of his murdered partner. John River is consumed by voices. He still sees his partner, a street thug he accidentally killed, a young girl whose case remains unsolved and a 19th century serial killer. All these “ghosts” in some way help and hinder his investigation but also lands him into a psychiatric evaluation.

Skarsgård is excellent. The major story arch is good – nothing earth shattering – but the way we get to peek into the unstable mind is nothing short of compelling.

I’m not sure if River was intended only as a mini-series and this is all we get or if there is more to come. Six episodes was not enough. There is definitely more story to tell.

I’m thrilled to be working with Netflix again this year as part as their StreamTeam. This is a non-sponsored post but Netflix did provide me with a year long membership so I can binge watch until my heart’s content and share my finds.

Botox Before and After – Eek!

Ok, I get it. Frown and laugh lines are a natural part of the aging process. However, this doesn’t mean I want to look tired and mad all the time. When I was in my early 20s, a very mature older woman told me I should start doing something about my crows feet (you know, those lines from smiling eyes). I was devastated. I was still a baby and maybe then a nightly eye cream would have been a nice addition to my skin care routine, but little did I know how this comment would have me forever scrutinizing my face.

I have had one very prominent groove between my eyes for as long as I can remember. When I was 28 years old, I remember talking to a co-worker about someday getting Botox. She waved off my concerns saying I was too young. Over the years, three other lines appeared. I’d dab on lotions and primers to help smooth things out but everyday my makeup would settle into these grooves and I would go threw my day with a permanent scowl.

I really started to consider Botox a few years ago but when I brought it up to some friends, I was almost shamed in considering the treatment. Why would you ever put a toxin in your face? 

Because I am not happy with the way I look.

It was as simple as that.

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This photo was taken a few weeks before I joined on as a CosmetiCare Ambassador. For the last year, I have been working on Long Story Short and appearing in weekly videos on YouTube. I also was growing increasingly critical of how I looked. Call me vain but it made me unhappy.

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I knew that a Botox Cosmetic treatment was likely an option as a CosmetiCare ambassador and I was ready. Ok, maybe a little terrified. Not of needles because I have been through the medical ringer in the last seven years. Needles were nothing. However, I was worried about the possibility of something going horribly south. Like my eyebrows. Obviously, there is risk with everything and the lovely nurses at CosmetiCare walked me through the procedure and the aftercare.

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Those two parallel lines between my eyes were the biggest offenders. There are also four horizontal lines between my eyes and at the top of my nose from years and years of scrunching my nose when I smile. These are things you become keenly aware of when analyzing your face in mirror for 20 years.

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The treatment was quick. Four itty bitty needle injections across my forehead above the eyebrows. My skin was raised a little at the injection site when I left but I stopped at the grocery store on the way home and no one looked at me like they knew what I had just done.

I thought the Botox treatment would be immediate. For two days I was able to scrunch up my face and make those frown lines, albeit not as easily but still managed. It was like I was testing the Botox. Did it work? It was about 3 or 4 days that I started to see things smooth out. Finally, my makeup wasn’t settling into those lines anymore and I looked refreshed. I did have what felt like a sinus headache for days after the treatment but it was mild and considered very normal amongst clients.

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It took me a few weeks to decide if I was pleased with the results from Botox. The Botox Cosmetic treatment had given me a little more lift in the eyebrow – normal per the CosmetiCare nurse – than I had expected. So, I wasn’t sure how much I liked that considering I was watching myself on YouTube being far more expressive with my eyebrows than I had before.

Yet when I see photos or video of myself post Botox, I am genuinely really happy with the way I look. Now, what should I do about those crows feet?

CosmetiCare is located at:
1101 Bayside Drive #100 Corona Del Mar, CA 92625
949.537.2178 Visit on Facebook or at www.cosmeticare.com

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. All opinions are my own.

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.