My Life as a Puddle

Creating hyperhidrosis hope and awareness one drop at a time

Tag: letter writing (page 1 of 2)

Paper, Pencils, and Pens for Sweaty Hands

The grade school memories I have that involve writing are mostly good ones. Good in the sense that I have always loved writing, both the dreaming up of ideas and the corresponding act of writing them down. Bad in the sense that the physical act of writing was a bit more difficult for me since my hands were more often wet than dry.

 

Paper
In 3rd grade, we began to learn the fine art of cursive writing. This required the use of a Big Chief tablet that was lined with red and blue lines evenly spaced just so in order to perfect our loops, swoops, and curls. While Big Chief tablets are luxuriously soft paper-wise with a smooth texture, they are also a double-edged sword. They are NOT sweat-friendly. When I would place the side of my palm down to write, my sweat would soak through the paper before I could finish writing the next word. If the pencil were sharp enough, sometimes it would tear through the weakened sections where my palm had just been.

 

The combination of my love of hand writing things and having to work around my hyperhidrosis has made me a bit of a stationery snob. I love all things paper, and it annoys me when I have to write on cheap, low quality, scratchy paper. Here are a few of my favorite types of paper products that hold up really well to my sweating and feel very nice when you caress them with a pen (which I prefer over pencils and will be getting to in a minute).

Greenroom Spiral Notebook

Greenroom Banana Paper Spiral Notebook

Banana paper is thicker than normal paper. It’s more absorbent for both ink and sweat, and the edges don’t curl as much.

Pencils
I really dislike pencils. I prefer pens. But most of the time in school (at least until college, anyway), one is required to use a pencil for testing, homework, etc. I typically used mechanical pencils, as they afforded me the ability to avoid the use of the class pencil sharpener that was affixed to the wall. I hated standing in line (another trigger for my hyperhidrosis) and then having to worry about leaving the handle of the sharpener wet for the next person to use. I like #1 pencil lead rather than #2 pencil lead. It’s darker and writes smoother, but sometimes it’s hard to find. In the meantime, here are some of the pencils I like: Ticonderoga velvet finish pencils, Ticonderoga Sensematic Plus mechanical pencils, and

Bic-Atlantis-Mechanical-Pencils

Bic Atlantis mechanical pencils have a rubberized grip.

Pencil Grips
Pencil grips work great for making any pen or pencil more comfortable for sweaty hands. I always have my own pens in my purse or bag so I don’t have to worry about making someone else’s pen all sweaty when I give it back. My pencil grip of choice is made of foam for absorption and has ridges for extra texture and good grippage, like these Ridged Foam Pencil and Pen Grip, 5-pack. The Write Dudes also make these pencil grips, which provide some additional texture to work with:

The-Write-Dudes-Pencil-Grips

Pencil grips help sweaty fingers stay put.

Erasers
The standard pink erasers are okay, but if your hands are really sweaty, you have to be careful how you hold the eraser. Once the tip of it gets wet, it can instead smear what you are trying to erase. I like click stick erasers. They are self-contained in a plastic holder and can be advanced click by click as you go.

 

Clic-Erasers

Clic Erasers are a good option for keeping the eraser dry when correcting mistakes.

Pens
I’ve mentioned that I like to hand write cards and letters to others. Remember my post about holiday greeting cards? My husband will probably tell you I have entirely too many pens floating around the house. In my opinion, one can never have too many pens. If you ever happen to borrow one of my pens, please don’t bend the cap or chew on the lid. I even go so far as to properly align the clip of the lid with the writing on the pen when I uncap it. I’m a bit particular with my pens. I take delight in the little things, like finding my next favorite pen that writes smoothly or offers a shade of orange I can’t find in any other pen. Here are a few that are sweat-tested:

Bic-Ultra-Grip-Pens

These pens are my go-to for everything. I like the way they write, and they have a rubberized grip.

PaperMate-InkJoy-100-Pens

These InkJoy pens by PaperMate are easier to hold thanks to the triangular shaped barrel. Slip a foam pencil grip on them for added grip.

Sharpie-Pens

Sharpie pens are one of my favorites. The ink doesn’t bleed through the paper, either.


Environment Control for Writing
With as many cards as I send to people, the journaling I do, and my quote book that I am constantly updating, I have to create an environment that is conducive to writing. This typically includes being at home, alone, with minimal distractions. I can’t hand write cards in a coffee shop, for example. It’s too much of a trigger usually. I can write my rough drafts there in my notebook, but the pristine handwritten version has to be done at home. I typically sit at my kitchen table to do my cards, where I have the ceiling fan on to generate air flow. If it’s cool enough outside, I’ll also have the sliding glass door open for additional ventilation. I always have a paper towel within reach, too. If my hands get too sweaty, I will place the paper towel over the card or paper so that it rests underneath the side of my hand and absorbs the sweat. Another piece of paper or the back of a notebook (if it’s cardboard) also works well to protect the paper on which you’re writing.

 

Parents, if you can afford it, spend a little extra money on the notebooks/paper/pens/pencils/grips I’ve mentioned to help your kids feel better prepared to tackle the act of writing. If your school has one of those community school supply lists, talk with his or her teacher regarding the pencil and paper/notebook supplies and ask if your child can bring their own set of supplies for these categories. A few simple modifications can really go a long way in improving your child’s confidence despite his or her hyperhidrosis.


Copyright © 2012 My Life as a Puddle

 

Hyperhidrosis and Paperwork

A few weeks ago I went to a local arts festival. The weather that week had been lovely, cooler and rainy. It was pretty humid the day I went to this arts festival, but I thought it would be okay since the temperature was in the 70s. My husband and I were walking around looking at all the different artist booths. I saw a ton of beautiful things I could never afford, but it was fun to look anyway. At that point, I was keeping my cool. Then, this guy walks up to me and asks if I’d like to learn more about becoming a bone marrow donor. I said Sure, why not? Most of the time, I have a hard time saying no to people, which is something I’m continuously working on.

 

This time, though, saying yes was worth it. Remember when I wrote about coming from a place of yes? Becoming a bone marrow donor, as well as an organ and tissue donor (which I am already), is a simple process that can save someone’s life. Bone marrow donation, unlike organ and tissue donation in most cases, does not have to be done after someone has lost a life. You can’t take your organs and tissues with you, so why not give the gift of life to someone else? A piece of you can live on in them. In the case of bone marrow donation, you can actually have an opportunity to meet the person you are donating to, if the circumstances allow. How cool would that be? I would feel so honored and humbled to be able to help someone in such a dramatic way.

 

I followed the guy over to the DKMS Americas booth and spoke with another volunteer about the donor requirements and the process itself should I become selected as a match for someone. After reading over everything, I decided to do it. I went to the next table over and was given a long sheet of paper to fill out in duplicate. Now, I like to hand write things and fill out paperwork in most cases. But for people with hyperhidrosis, advance receipt of any required paperwork works better so that we can fill it out without anyone watching us and don’t feel rushed and panicky over drippage. I was okay for about the first 30 seconds, but the combination of walking around in the humidity combined with the public display of paperwork did me in. Thank God my husband was there, because he had to help me out and finish filling out the paperwork for me.

 

I don’t think anyone else noticed that I actually pawned off the pen duty to my husband, which was good. I was so embarrassed. After he completed my information, I walked to the next station. There, I rinsed out my mouth and swabbed some Q-tip-like things on the insides of both of my cheeks and placed them in an envelope. That was it. Super easy and so worth it for the change I might be able to affect upon someone else.

 

You can do this, too. Sign up to become a bone marrow donor. You could be someone else’s missing piece.

Bone Marrow Donor Registry Pin

To become a bone marrow donor, visit deletebloodcancer.org.


Copyright © 2012 My Life as a Puddle

My Trip to Ithaca, NY

I went to Ithaca, New York to attend the college graduation of my dear friend and “surrogate brother” Danny. We’ve known each other for a long time. My mom was pregnant with my little sister at the same time Danny’s mom was pregnant with him. I used to babysit him and have watched him grow up to be a remarkable man. He majored in musical theatre, and if I do say so myself, he’s bloody brilliant.

A gorge in Ithaca, NY

One of the gorges in Ithaca, NY

 

Theatre students are a vibrant bunch, and my week-long trip was quite entertaining. I stayed with Danny and his roommate Bruce. At night when we were just hanging out, we watched Harry Potter and endless episodes of The Golden Girls. Those will be some of my favorite memories of hanging out with Danny, the beauty and bonding in the ordinary moments of life. He and Bruce even invented a drinking game based on The Golden Girls!

The Golden Girls drinking game

The Golden Girls drinking game invented by Danny and his roommate Bruce. Love it!

 

When we weren’t out strolling the campuses of Cornell University and Ithaca College, we were either hanging out in Ithaca Commons or visiting the gorges near the town of Ithaca. I was worried how my hyperhidrosis would be during the trip, and it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.

Strolling along the Cornell University campus

Danny and I enjoying a stroll along the campus of Cornell University

 

Danny and I climbed a six-story tree house at the Cayuga Nature Center. If you don’t already know, I am obsessed with trees. I have tree jewelry, tree stationery, tree wall hangings, tree pictures, etc. Trees are more than nature’s beauty. They can be used as a metaphor for so many things in life. When I learned about this tree house, I made it a goal that if I didn’t do anything else on this trip, I would at least visit the tree house. I could feel myself getting a little sweaty as we climbed the tree house, but it wasn’t really enough to make me terribly uncomfortable. It was honestly the last thing on my mind at that point, which was a nice relief since hyperhidrosis permeates my entire life.

Tree house at Cayuga Nature Center

The six-story tree house at Cayuga Nature Center. It's awesome!

 

I don’t think there was air conditioning at Danny’s apartment, but it wasn’t really hot enough to need it.  The evenings in Ithaca in May are blissfully cool, so the only time I really had to worry about my sweating was when I was getting ready in the morning. Thankfully, I was the only one up at that time, so I didn’t have to worry about sharing the bathroom or being rushed. Not that people rush me out of the bathroom. It’s more of an internal thing with me feeling a sense of being rushed. I tend to make myself sweat that way. There was a standing fan unit in the living room, though, so I just used that when it started to get too hot as I was blow drying my hair.

 

I already told you about graduation day and the rash I got on my feet.  That and my sweating as I was getting ready in the morning were really the only two stand-out moments on the trip with regard to navigating my hyperhidrosis. The other main sweat fest was entirely brought on by my own doing. On graduation evening, we all went to a fancy dinner to celebrate. I had written a graduation card for Danny and had it with me to give to him after we finished dinner. I was going to just hand it over, but then I thought, You know, maybe I should get up the guts to read it to him in front of everyone.

Maya Angelou Life Mosaic card

The front of the card I gave to Danny for his graduation. Maya Angelou always says it best.

 

If you know me personally, you know that writing, particularly writing cards to others, is what I know I was meant to be doing on this planet. My blog and hyperhidrosis awareness comes in a close second. After thinking about Danny’s card all through dinner, I had psyched myself up to the point that I could really feel my fight or flight response being activated. This is typical for people with hyperhidrosis, at least for me anyway. Thinking about an event can trigger my sweat, the tingly, prickly feeling on my hands and feet right before they start to gush.

 

I decided that I didn’t want to leave Ithaca with any regrets. If I didn’t read Danny’s card aloud to him, I would most certainly regret it. I patted my inner self on the back for encouragement, and plowed ahead into the moment and memory I wanted to create with and for him. I don’t usually read my cards aloud to my recipient. It’s really hard when you’re “a crier” like me. But I didn’t care if I cried. I cared about really showing Danny what he means to me. I wrote the card, and then I used my voice to convey what I had written. A special thanks to Danny’s roommate, Bruce, who recorded me reading the card. And thank you to my husband, who bought me the genius invention known as an iPhone, which  I was able to use to record this important moment in my life.

 

Here’s the video of me reading my card. I can’t believe I’m actually posting a video of myself. Here goes nothing.

(The sound on the video isn’t the greatest, as it was pretty loud in the restaurant. It might help if you listen to it through some headphones.)

This was one of the best vacations I’ve ever had. The people whom I was with made it so special. And they’re not kidding when they say “Ithaca is gorges!” I bought a shirt that says so. 🙂

 

P.S. You should check out Danny’s website. He’s available for hire and comes highly recommended!


Copyright © 2012 My Life as a Puddle

 

 

 

Hyperhidrosis Top 10

Here’s a list of the top 10 things I can’t live without with regard to my hyperhidrosis.

 

10.  Carpet or rugs. As much as I like a cool floor underneath my feet, if they are sweating walking can become dangerous. Slip and Slide is for outdoor summer adventures, not indoor daily movement.

 

9.  Thick, wrinkle-resistant notebooks for writing. I really like Jordi Labanda and Greenroom, both available at Target.

 

8.  Writing instruments. You will never see me write with a pencil. I hate them. I need a good pen, not only for its ability to write on damp paper, but because I LOVE hand writing letters and cards to people. I like writing things in general and even look forward to all of those forms you have to fill out at doctors’ offices and places of business (as long as I can fill them out in advance). My favorites are Sharpie pens, Bic Ultra Round Stic and Velocity 1.6mm bold, and Le Pen by Marvy Japan.

 

7.  Natural supplements. I am continuously experimenting with different combinations of things found in nature to see if they will help me cope with my sweating and calm down my central nervous system. My current regimen? Nature’s Sunshine brand sage capsules, Nerve Control, and Super GLA, as well as Hyland’s Calms Forte.

 

6.  Time. If I feel rushed or arrive late to something, it makes me sweat. I am ridiculously and overly prompt – not a bad trait to have.

 

5.  Baby wipes. I use these immediately after applying sunscreen or lotion if I am not near a sink to wash my hands right away.

 

4.  Secret Clinical Strength antiperspirant

 

3.  Summer Soles shoe inserts to place inside my shoes. Use the code IHHS to get one pair free when you buy one pair.

 

2.  Jeans! They are my go-to item for clothing because they are comfortable and absorb the sweat from my hands when I need to wipe them.

 

1.  Air conditioning or a fan for cooler air flow, and cooler weather. Summer time and the livin’ is definitely NOT easy!

 

(This post is part of the Health Activist Writer’s Month Challenge hosted by WEGO Health. I will be writing a post a day for all 30 days. You can learn more about it here: http://info.wegohealth.com/HAWMC2012.)


Copyright © 2012 My Life as a Puddle

Dear 16-Year-Old Me

My Life as a Puddle, Age 16

Ok, fine. Here's a picture of me from my junior prom.

You will be placed in many circumstances where your hyperhidrosis will start acting up. Like, really bad. Stay strong and just sweat through it. It’s not your fault you were born this way. It takes courage to be exactly who and how you are, to “astonish a mean world with your acts of kindness” as Maya Angelou once said. Because of your hyperhidrosis, you have a unique slant on your observations of the world. You know what it’s like to feel like a pariah, an outcast, different, literally uncomfortable in your own skin. Use this knowledge to help free others.

 

Never apologize for or over-think your caring and loving ways. It’s better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all  (Alfred Lord Tennyson’s poem In Memoriam). People will push you away because they don’t know how to receive your love. Love them anyway. While people can and do change, “when people show you who they are, believe them. The first time.” (Maya Angelou again. I love her. My brain thinks in Maya Angelou quotes.)

 

Some friends will come and go just like the seasons do. Embrace those seasons and glean everything you can from them. Don’t beat yourself up when those friends shed their leaves and blow away. Rake up the memories, stockpile them for the future, and weed your own garden to prepare for the next spring of renewal.

 

Say what you need to say. Don’t censor yourself in your letter writing or when you tell someone how much they mean to you. Stand up for what you believe in. Don’t play Switzerland and be neutral. Have an opinion, be well read and educated, and be able to justify why you believe something. Knowledge is power. Never stop learning.

 

Believe in miracles and the law of attraction. Find your faith, live it, grow in and through it. Believe that when you shine your light on the world great things can happen. Don’t let anyone dim your light. If they want to add to your brightness, fine, but there will be no dimming. Find your passion and fling yourself toward it. Embrace your sweet spot of everything involving the written word.

 

We all have a story. By finding the courage to share yours, you can let others know they don’t have to hide their secrets, either. The truth will set you free. So tell your story! It is in the sharing where we connect.

 

Curly Girl Designs image by Leigh Standley

I have this poster framed and signed by Curly Girl Designs creator Leigh Standley.

 Visit another favorite card company of mine, Curly Girl Designs.

(This post is part of the Health Activist Writer’s Month Challenge hosted by WEGO Health. I will be writing a post a day for all 30 days. You can learn more about it here: http://info.wegohealth.com/HAWMC2012.)


Copyright © 2012 My Life as a Puddle

Hyperhidrosis at Work

(This post is part of the Health Activist Writer’s Month Challenge hosted by WEGO Health. I will be writing a post a day for all 30 days. You can learn more about it here: http://info.wegohealth.com/HAWMC2012.)

 

I’ve been at my new job as a medical writing web specialist for two months now. In addition to it being a new situation that triggers my hyperhidrosis automatically, I am facing a huge learning curve with regard to websites, content management systems, HTML, and the general landscape of web terminology. Writing for the web is very different from writing a blog, essay, print piece, etc. For the past two months I have been on information overload with a plethora of things running through my brain. By the time Friday rolls around, I am worked.

 

Along with all the new concepts I am learning are the tutorials I’m getting for how to do things on my computer. Depending on whatever program I’m working in, someone will have to show me step by step what to do. You know what this means. I’m at my computer with someone either standing over/behind me to explain, or sitting next to me as I mouse around the screen. This is a necessary step in the process, and I am not complaining. It’s helpful to be walked through everything, even multiple times, until it clicks in my brain and becomes intuitive. However, it’s a huge trigger for my sweating, and I end up soaking my mouse pad. I actually had to remove the wrist rest that was near the mouse because I sweat on it so much it started to gross me out. It would never completely dry, so I just threw it in a desk drawer.

 

I did bring my 4-inch desk fan to work. I use it mainly in the morning when my hyperhidrosis is at its worst. Is yours always worse in the morning? I wonder if it’s because I’ve only been awake for a couple of hours by the time I get to work. My body temperature might still be going back up from having dropped during my sleep cycle. But my office is always hot in the morning since the door has been closed all night, so who knows. It takes me a good 30 minutes to adjust to my office temperature.

 

I’ll be honest. These past two months have been a real struggle for me when it comes to my hyperhidrosis. I’m already out of my comfort zone and feel overwhelmed trying to learn my job, but my hyperhidrosis is making it so much worse. Some days are better than others, and I do have dry segments of my day, but they are definitely few and far between. I’m taking copious notes on a daily basis, but half the time they are sweaty notes. I was on a conference call one day and my fingers stuck to the pages of my notebook. I was holding it open with my left hand and writing with my right hand; every time I picked up my fingers they would make a sound.

 

One day, I had to go offsite for a business meeting. I was carrying a file folder with me, and by the time I got there my fingertips had turned blue! I should have known better than to use a blue file folder. I looked like I had been Smurfed. When I left the meeting, I strategically picked up my notebook first so it covered most of my grip, then the file folder, and then my pen so that my thumb would only touch the pen, not the file folder. I learned my lesson quickly after that. If I’m going offsite, I bring the new messenger bag I told you about. Good thing I was doing some forward thinking. That bag is essential for me when I have to carry things around offsite at work.

 

sweaty palm

A wet start to my work day

sweaty notepad

My notepad after taking notes

 

Greenroom Brand Notebook

This notebook is available at Target and is sweat-friendly. I switched to this notebook after the above image happened.

 


Copyright © 2012 My Life as a Puddle

 

Hyperhidrosis Quotation Inspiration

Life begins at the end of yourt comfort zone.

This card is available from http://quotablecards.com. Love this company!

This quote inspires me because it is exactly what has happened in my own life. If I look back to where I was one year ago, it’s crazy how far I’ve come with regard to how I view myself and my excessive sweating problem. Yes, I hate it on a daily basis, but I am getting better at dealing with it.

 

This blog started as a direct result of how I felt after leaving a symposium hosted by the International Hyperhidrosis Society. I was so inspired that I sent handwritten thank you cards to the executive director and one of the customer service people who was my first point of contact: post-Botox treatment and a bit of Botox gratitude.

 

I almost didn’t go through with the Botox injections. Note: if you ever consider having Botox injections in your hands or feet, do not watch the videos on YouTube. I had myself pretty psyched out by the time I was done watching them, and since I over-analyze everything in my life anyway this just gave me more ammunition. I still went to the symposium, though, and told myself I could still bail when it was my turn if I wanted.

 

But I didn’t bail. I try not to live my life with regrets, so I sucked it up, laid down on the table, and proceeded to let them poke me with 155 injections. Yes, I counted. For someone who has zero pain tolerance, I surprised myself that I was able to get through it. Desperate times call for desperate measures.

Botox injections

This is me getting my Botox injections!

 

After my Botox experience, I had such a supreme sense of validation. It’s hard to put into words exactly how I felt as I left that day. I felt like I could conquer the world, like there was hope for me, like I could finally stop living behind a curtain of daily activities avoided or somehow altered in an attempt to mask my sweating. I dared to believe that something inside me was superior to circumstance.

 

It’s crazy that I picked this quote. Read this past post about my hyperhidrosis comfort zone. I’m talking about the same thing. Ha! At least I’m consistent. If I hadn’t stepped out of my comfort zone with regard to hyperhidrosis, this blog never would have happened. I had so many doubts. I didn’t know how to operate a blog platform, didn’t know if people would care about what I have to say, didn’t know a lot of things. Yet I did it anyway. And it was worth it.


Copyright © 2012 My Life as a Puddle

 

 

My Pre-Interview Routine

Call me superstitious, but since 2004 I’ve listened to the same song on my way to an interview. I’ve talked about India.Arie before. I learned about her thanks to the Oprah Winfrey Show, and ever since I saw her perform Video on Oprah’s stage I’ve loved her. Her music speaks to the very depths of my soul. She has a song called Strength, Courage, and Wisdom that I’ve used as my mantra any time I need to present my very best self. It works.

Over the years, especially this past year or so, I’ve added other types of music to my interview playlist. I’m really digging gospel and contemporary Christian music for the specific job interview scenario. I don’t listen to it all the time, but there is something about the way black people sing that infuses me with awe and inspiration. (Side note: I’ve always loved soul and R&B music. I grew up listening to Michael and Janet Jackson, Boyz II Men, and Tevin Campbell. Can we talk for a minute? My wedding song was Grace by MeShell Ndegeocello. I’ll give you five bucks if you even know who she is.) I told a girlfriend once over IM that sometimes I think I should have been born black. I already have the “ghetto” booty. 😉 Needless to say, she laughed. But seriously. My music collection is mainly by black artists, with the exception of my boyfriend John Mayer.

So, whatever type of music you listen to, create a playlist of songs that make you feel good and remind you of what you have to offer the world. If you can focus on the music on your way to an interview, you can take some of the focus off of your sweating. You already know you should arrive to your interview a few minutes early, so use some of that time to center yourself. Listen to your best I am awesome, hear me roar song one more time before you get out of the car, take some deep breaths, say a prayer, chant something, etc. Whatever it is that you do, do it. Align your mental state with your intention and the outcome that you desire.

You should already be prepared research-wise for the interview, preferably with some notes jotted down that you can refer to when you’re actually in the interview. Don’t lie to yourself and think that you’re going to remember all of the information you found on the company, what questions to ask them, what the job description is, and scenarios that you’ve been in that can apply to the job for which you’re applying. You’re not going to remember it all, and that’s perfectly fine. Hence the power of the written word! Write this stuff down and help you help yourself.

If there is a bathroom available before I get to the reception desk and no one will see me go in, I always stop. Even if I don’t have to go, I will still use the sink to rinse my hands under cold water to try and calm down the sweating. I also use this as a chance to rearrange my shirt if necessary. If I’m wearing a short-sleeved shirt underneath a suit jacket, I’ll straighten the sleeves and pull them down since they usually get bunched up underneath my extra-wet-for-the-occasion armpits.

Once I’m ready to announce myself to the receptionist or front desk clerk or whomever I’m told to ask for depending on the interview environment, I sit down in the lobby if I have time so that I can adapt to the room temperature. If you’re someone with hyperhidrosis, you’re going to have time. I hate to be rushed for anything. It makes me sweat. So my entire interview process begins way in advance of the time I’m actually scheduled to come to an interview.

The last thing worth mentioning is that since you’ve already jotted down some notes, make sure you bring a pen with you, one that you know has fresh ink and will last through the interview so that you don’t have to borrow one of theirs. I don’t like borrowing pens because I worry about giving them back all wet and coated with a layer of dried sweat. You’ll need a pen to jot down the name(s) of whom you meet if they don’t automatically give you a business card. Letter writing is a lost art. Revive it by sending handwritten thank you cards as a follow up to your interview; emails can be impersonal, and chances are the person who is interviewing you gets enough of them on a daily basis. Don’t crowd their inbox. Take up a small desk residence instead and mail them a smile.


Copyright © 2012 My Life as a Puddle

Stepping Outside of My Box

This year I joined the women’s tea committee for the 8th annual women’s tea event at my church. I was in charge of publicity for the event (postcards, signage, programs, social media, music, etc.) I’d never done anything like this before, but I love tea, so when I heard about it I was excited to participate. In addition to being on the committee, I also hosted and decorated a table of my own. I wasn’t sure how things would go since this was my first time participating in the tea, but I accepted the challenge.

 

The committee started out by decorating the room the weekend of Thanksgiving. I helped to string garland, wrap the hostess gifts, and cover bulletin boards with wrapping paper so they looked like presents. I had to ask for help once I got to the bulletin boards since my hands started to sweat while holding up the wrapping paper. The other women on the tea committee know I have hyperhidrosis, so it wasn’t a shock when I said that someone else would have to take over so that I wouldn’t ruin the paper.

 

Once the room was decorated, the hostesses who also were on the tea committee came in to decorate their tables first. It was 20 degrees outside that night after snowing the day before. After unloading my own supplies and making several trips back and forth to the car, I finally took off my jacket before going back outside to help the others unload. Yep, 20 degrees outside and yet my back was dripping with sweat. I try to avoid jackets as much as possible. They become another thing for me to carry around once I get too hot and then rip them off. I didn’t have gloves on, either. What’s the point if I had to shove them back inside my pockets while they were wet?

 

I began unloading my decorations and setting them up. I had a grand idea of what my table would look like and even did a trial run at home on my dining room table prior to the event to make sure it looked okay. I hosted a table with 8 guests rather than the standard 6. Once I got all of my china on the table and the place settings arranged, I had very little room left on the table for all of the decorations I had brought. Immediately my mind went to the negative self talk. I thought my table was going to look stupid since I had to omit half of the decorations on which I had put personal touches. I kept at it and put what I could on the table. I had saved 8 wine bottles and slipped handwritten quotations around the necks to add to my theme, but there simply was no room for the bottles. I improvised and put the quotations on top of the place settings along with the gifts I had for each of my guests.

 

After a few hours of decorating my table and placing tablecloths on all of the other tables for the other hostesses, I was ready to leave. I said my goodbyes and kind of left in a down mood, not being proud of my table and what I had envisioned it to be initially. I thought it looked bland and boring and no one would like it. The head of the tea committee noticed that I left in kind of a funk. When I came back the next night to help the other hostesses with their tables, she pulled me aside for a moment and said, “I didn’t get a chance to see your finished table last night, but I noticed that you seemed kind of down when you left. I know that money has been an issue for you since your layoff. We are well within budget for the tea, so if you feel like there’s anything missing from your table and would like to buy a teapot or some kind of decoration, I’m happy to give you the money to do so.” Well, that was when I lost it. I wasn’t even there for 5 minutes before I was crying in the back room.

 

The last couple of months have been rough being unemployed. I thought I was in a much better place these last few weeks emotionally and mentally, but when she said she noticed I seemed down, it dawned on me that everything was right there under the front I apparently was putting up. I thought I was fine, but all it took was for her to verbalize what I truly was feeling for me to recognize it myself. I thanked her profusely and told her she was very perceptive, but that I physically had no room left on my table to even take her up on her offer. But what a nice thing for her to say!

 

After I pulled myself together, I returned to the main room to help set up all of the tea bags on each table. This also was challenging, as I was outside of my comfort zone even being involved in the women’s tea, and then I had to run around the room holding huge boxes of tea from CostCo. I had a hard time opening the packaging to get to the tea bags, and then I had to balance several boxes in my arms and then distribute the tea bags equally among all of the tables. Some of the tables had special dishes designated for the tea, so I was extra careful when picking them up since my hands were wet.

 

The next morning was the tea. I arrived early to help with any last minute things and was wearing dress clothes. I hate dress clothes. They are not sweat friendly, at least most of them that I’ve found are not. I do have a couple of pairs of cotton pinstripe pants that I really like, as they are about the closest to jeans I can get. I also had on a new cashmere sweater that I learned wasn’t conducive to air flow, either. It was a bit warm in the room where the tea was held, so that probably didn’t help. I was excited for the event, yet also nervous about sweating through the entire thing. I did the best I could and tried not to focus on it too much.

 

One of the things that helped me get through my sweating that day was that as a hostess of a table, I had a decorative theme. The theme of my table was Caught Between Jane Austen and Twitter—Reviving the Lost Art of Letter Writing. My table was the only one with a title. 🙂 Part of the table included gifts for each of my guests, and one of the gifts was a copy of an article I had written about holiday greeting cards. At the bottom of this article was my byline, part of which says that I suffer from the medical condition known as hyperhidrosis and that you can find me blogging about it. I used this as a way to introduce myself to my guests and then I explained what it was. So right away it was out in the open while not being the main point of conversation, and then I could worry about it less.

 

All of my guests had a good time, and I got many compliments about my table from them and others who walked by. This was reassuring since I had so many “ANTs” (Automatic Negative Thoughts) occurring a few nights before. The lesson here is that I don’t give myself enough credit sometimes. I hold myself to a very high standard and sometimes my expectations get in the way of the good things I am already achieving. My table was creative and thought provoking with its title, and my China pattern stood out against the other tables. I volunteered to be on the tea committee, hosted a table, and stepped out of my box without thinking twice about it, for once. Tea is one of my passions. Because I know what inspires me, it made it easier to venture outside of my comfort zone and do something in which tea was directly involved. I’m glad I signed myself up for the event over the summer. It ended up being something that kept me busy during this sucky and totally unexpected time of unemployment.

 

I encourage you to do something out of your norm even if you know ahead of time that sweating will be involved. Do it anyway. Don’t let your condition dictate the enjoyable experiences you might have if you just reach for them.

 

Here are a few photos of my table.

Winter 2011 045 Winter 2011 047 Winter 2011 048 Winter 2011 042


Copyright © 2012 My Life as a Puddle

Holiday Greeting Cards: A Tutorial on Recognition

Here’s a freelance article I wrote for The Vegas Valley Savings Magazine, which is mailed to approximately 42,000 households in the Vegas Valley. I wonder if the Sister Wives will see it?

The holidays have arrived, and with them comes the opportunity to make others feel important. I’m not talking about buying gifts to show affection. I’m referring to validating someone by reviving the lost art of letter writing. Yes, the fine art of sending greeting cards to those who matter most, and maybe even giving some to those along the periphery of your life (eg, neighbors, postal carriers, and those lovely people who collect your garbage). The human spirit longs for recognition; we all want to know that we matter, that we are enough simply by being here.  So why not show someone that he or she matters by giving a card? You can make a difference in the world through a simple act.  Expressing gratitude, humility, love, camaraderie, and a myriad of other things to someone via the written word makes it tangible and everlasting for the recipient.  So how does one go about writing a holiday card? Non-writer types can easily do this by following a few tips.

Go through your address book and also think about those whom you encounter in daily life; make a list of these people to whom you’ll be sending a card so that you know how many greeting cards to purchase.

1. Purchase greeting cards or standard 8½ x 11 paper; if you’re hand writing your message you may select other appropriate stationery.

2. Don’t get overwhelmed by the thought of writing a card. You can easily create a “blanket” message to insert into each card, and then personalize it for each recipient by hand writing a shorter message inside when you sign the card.

3. Think back to what’s happened in your own life or your family’s lives over the past year. Reminisce month by month if it helps. What interesting things did you do, or receive, or were a part of? Did you take any vacations? Go to an interesting place for a business trip? See any concerts or shows? You can craft a few short sentences together and mention these highlights as a 2011 recap. For next year’s cards, keep a running list of these events throughout the year—your message will be nearly done by the time the holidays arrive, and you can reduce your holiday stress!

4. Try to compose an update that will fit onto one-half of an 8½ x 11 sheet of paper. This is a good length that prevents you from rambling, yet it’s long enough to give the recipient a glimpse into the goings-on of your life. When you initially compose your letter, and if you are using a computer, type it using normal 12-point font for ease of reading and revising. Afterward, you can shrink it to fit on half of the sheet by changing the font size and the font type. I’ve had great results using Gill Sans MT Condensed font, 10 point, 1.5” top & bottom margins, and 2” left & right margins; and Vrinda font, 10 point with 1” margins all around. Once the text fits, copy and paste the same paragraph onto the second half of the sheet so that when you print it you can have 2 copies per page, which you will then cut in half.

5. Decide on what type of paper you’d like to print your message. If it’s darker colored paper such as Christmas or Hanukkah colors, adjust the font in the document to be bold for better readability. Print out a test page and then cut it in half to ensure it will fit inside the greeting cards you’ve selected. Once you confirm the fit, print off the proper number of copies you’ll need (remember, if you purchased a package of 20 cards, you’ll only need to print 10 pages of your message). If you’ve handwritten your message, take it along with the rest of your stationery to an office supply store and ask them to photocopy it onto your stationery.

6. Cut the sheets in half to prepare them for insertion into your cards. If you’re feeling fancy, you can use paper edger scissors (aka scrapbook scissors with fancy detail) to create visually appealing borders. Once you’ve cut the sheets in half, use a glue stick to paste them into the blank side of the card.

7. Take some time to hand write a nice message inside the card to personalize your greeting. It doesn’t have to be long. Best wishes for a happy and healthy 2012! followed by We enjoyed visiting you over the summer or any other tidbit that acknowledges the individual will suffice.

8. Keep the United States Postal Service in business! Buy those stamps, stick them on the envelopes, and mail a smile.

Maya Angelou once said, “We all have the power to be a rainbow in someone else’s cloud.”  So don’t think that because you’re not a writer you can’t impact another person’s life.  You have the power to do something true and right and great.  Just put your pen to paper (or your fingers to keyboard if you don’t like your handwriting and would rather print from your computer) and say whatever it is that’s in your heart.  Creating a permanent record like this for someone else reminds us that we are connected to each other through our humanity; it reminds us of compassion; it reminds us of the importance of recognition and documentation of our fellow brothers and sisters.  Don’t use spell check or look for bigger words to use.  Just write.  Find your inner Jane Austen and drop a gem into someone else’s day.  The ripple effects will astound you.

(I encourage you to mail a few extra cards to our wounded soldiers who so bravely serve our country. Just think about the impact if every single one of you reading this were to send a few cards! Please do it. Send them here:

Holiday Mail For Heroes
P.O. Box 5456
Capitol Heights, MD 20791-5456

All cards must be postmarked no later than Friday, December 9th. Cards postmarked after this date will unfortunately be returned to the sender. This deadline ensures enough time to sort and distribute cards before the holidays. For more information, visit the Red Cross website.)

2010 Christmas Cards

These are part of the cards I received last year. After this shot was taken, I had to start hanging them on another door since I received so many. 🙂


Copyright © 2011 My Life as a Puddle

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