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Why HPV screening is important and how to test at home

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This post is sponsored by Nurx, but the content and opinions expressed here are my own.

Lately I’ve been listening to a podcast about disease, and it’s got me hyper aware of the importance of preventative maintenance for a variety of health issues. January is National Cervical Health Month, so I’m really excited to share with you some information about HPV and how Nurx is making it easier and super affordable to take charge of your health.

Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is the most commonly transmitted STI (sexually transmitted infection), with nearly 80 million Americans currently infected and 14 million newly infected each year. This next fact really blew my mind: a LOT of people are infected with HPV in their lives (80 percent of sexually active people!) but are unaware they have the virus. In a lot of these cases, the HPV will go away on its own but if it doesn’t, it can cause cancer in the nether regions, including cervical cancer (it causes 34,000 cervical cancer diagnoses each year).

Here’s why I love the HPV screening I’m about to share with you: nearly 25% of women without health insurance have not checked their risk for cervical cancer in the past 5 years. That number is 11% in the general population, so that means women in this country with less access to health care are TWICE AS LIKELY to have never had a screening. Nurx just introduced a Home HPV screening text. In the privacy of your own home, women can have the chance to make better decisions about their health.

Nurx’s Home HPV Screening test is affordable at $15 with insurance and $69 without insurance. The test kit, which is the same quality as a pap smear, checks for 14 strains of HPV that have a higher risk of leading to cervical cancer.  The test is really simple, too.

After visiting Nurx.com or downloading the Nurx app, you’ll answer a few questions about your house and the test will be shipped to your door. In the test is an extra long q-tip, plastic tube and bag, sticker with a barcode, and prepaid return envelope.

All you have to do is insert, circle around (if you know what I mean!), drop the swab in the tube, put the tube in the bag, and mail it in the pre-paid envelope. A few days after the medical team receives your sample, you’ll get your results from the Nurx medical team. If the results come back negative, you have a low risk of cervical cancer and don’t need another test for 3 years. If your results are positive, it doesn’t mean you have cervical cancer. The Nurx medical team will work with you to figure out the next steps for you.

If you’re in the 30+ category with me (hello, welcome, want some tea?) guidelines advise to check the risk for cervical cancer with an HPV test every 5 years or a pap smear every 3 years. Nurx does offer a kit for you spring chickens aged 25-29 in case you want to check your risk for cervical cancer between pap smears.

This test is preventative screening, it’s not a treatment or replacement for doctors or health care, which is why I’m so glad that Nurx doesn’t just report back results and helps with the next steps.

Like I mentioned at the beginning, listening to that podcast about disease has made me so grateful to live in a time where there are so many preventative measures… and they come to the comfort of your own home, don’t judge your sweatpants with the holes, and allow you to take control of your health. What a time to be alive.

Visit the Nurx site to have an HPV screening test sent to you and celebrate National Cervical Health Month by making sure you know what’s going on.

 

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How to stop working when you work for yourself

This post is sponsored by POP SECRET® but the content and opinions expressed here are my own.

There are so many things that are wonderful and amazing about working for yourself. Unlimited earning potential, doing what you love 90% of the time (keeping it real), no need to request vacation days, and judgement free hours listening to podcasts while you work. One of the hardest parts is learning how to stop working when you work for yourself.

Some days I actively work for three hours and other days I work for 12+ hours, literally from the moment I wake up until I put my dying phone back on the charger late at night.

It’s super cool that I work for myself, but there’s no supervisor to remind me to take a day off, there’s no work computer to turn off and leave at the office. I work on the toilet, at stoplights, waiting to check out at the store, and even during traditional office hours sometimes. There is no built in “off” button to my work.

Here’s the crazy part, though: if I was the boss of anyone but myself, I would absolutely insist that they took time off. Not only that, but I can get way more done in five solid, focused hours of work than I can with ten hour days chasing the imaginary end zone.

There will always be more to do, new things to try and opportunities to grow. But to meet these opportunities, we have to be rested and excited and recharged. Easier said than done though, right?

Give yourself permission – LITERALLY write yourself a note excusing yourself from work – to stop working.

As I’m learning how to stop working, I’ve given myself permission to do the following things:

  1. Read a book just for the fun of reading a book.
  2. Make my favorite snack and relax with a podcast or a movie. 
    One of my all-time favorite snacks is popcorn, so keeping a box of POP SECRET® on hand is a no brainer. It’s super easy to keep a box in your Amazon cart at all times so that when you order… I don’t know, sheet suspenders or coffee syrup pumps or glass spray bottles, an essential time off snack pops up in the box. See what I did there? Pops up? 😉
  3. Take a nap.
    Set a timer, and take a 45-minute nap if your body is needing some rest. You have my permission to sleep while the world spins on.
  4. Get distracted without feeling bad.
    If I’m trying to work, social media can be the enemy. But if I’m actively NOT working, social media can be really fun. Don’t feel bad retweeting things on Twitter, watching all the Instagram stories, and pinning lots of things on Pinterest.
  5. Binge watch a few episodes of a TV show. 
    Get comfy, pop a bag of POP SECRET® and get swept away in a few episodes of a TV show. Some of my favorites are over on this post.
  6. Spend time enjoying your hobbies.
    I love putting stickers in my planner. Sometimes I spend a LOT of time looking through all of my stickers, wishing I had time to organize them or decorate my planner a little more… take that time! Whatever your hobbies are, use your not working time to invest in the things that make you feel happy.
  7. Reach out to your friends.
    A lot of my job is from my phone, so I tend to ignore any texts that come through while I’m working. That has resulted in almost 200 unread text messages. Take the time to respond to texts or send funny memes to people you love.
  8. Brain dump.
    If you find that it’s hard to not work, spend a minute brain dumping everything that you’re thinking of “to do” in your business. Set a timer for 2 minutes and. write down all the pressing things. Give yourself permission to do those when you start working again. It’s weird, but this exercise is really helpful for me. Getting things out of my head and onto paper helps me acknowledge them and save them for later.

You have my permission to stop because sometimes we just need someone to tell us that it’s okay.

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Two years from now.

The other day I was (wait for it) distracted on the internet. I was sitting at my desk, gazing at the paper mill from our window and my mind went down a rabbit hole, which I followed all the way to YouTube.

I saw a video that reminded me of a text I got two Decembers ago.

Two Decembers ago, Kristen texted me to tell me that Layla was diagnosed with alopecia and her hair was falling out. My precious little Layla, sweetest Layla in the whole world (I’ll fight you on it) and truly one of the best little humans I’ve ever known.

Otherwise healthy, but losing her hair. I remember laying in bed, sobbing. I remember thinking it would change her life, and what if it dimmed her spirit? I sobbed, and then a month later Ernie posted it on social media. That text suddenly became very real. It wasn’t a “maybe” or a “possibly,” but it was an actual thing. I remember standing in the church building we worked at, crying while Justen hugged me. and then I picked my phone up and told Kristen “I’m booking a flight out there, just tell me when.”  I asked her to send me videos and pictures of Layla so that I wouldn’t burden her with any looks of shock or surprise or anything.

and a few weeks later, I arrived. To my delight, she was the same spunky Layla (with some extra emotional moments about random things). She asked me to put her hair in a ponytail for gymnastics, which I gently did with her wispy hair. Right before I went to the airport, Ernie asked me to help him film a video for his Patreon. He’d chosen Randy Travis’ “Forever and Ever Amen” which has the line “honey I don’t care, I ain’t in love with your hair, and if it all fell out well I’d love you anyway.”

As he was listening to the song, the girls were dancing around and he had his camera out. He got footage of Layla hearing those words for the first time (it’s in this video and it’s the point I feel myself turn into a giant tear drop of love because she is so excited). He also included little clips of the girls, and me with the girls, and I have watched this video so often.

Here’s the thing. It’s been two years since I got that text from Kristen about Layla’s alopecia. and those moments of worrying about it affecting her spirit, the nights of crying because I wished I could protect her from anything hard… they are memories.

Those hard moments are gone, those worries and fears and tears… in the past.

and now the unknown is normal. To Layla, her twin, her parents, her family, her classmates, to me.

I think of the things right now that are unknown. That worry me, keep me up, bring me tears. Mountains that seem unclimbable, decisions that seem unmakeable.. and I wonder what those will be like two years from now.

The brilliant thing about mountains is that they just get bigger and bigger the closer you get to them, but they’re smaller and smaller the more you move past them. and taking a tip from Layla, just shave the remnants of old life off and step into new chapters of your life with boldness and a resilient spirit.

ps if you made it this far without watching the video, that’s wrong of you. Watch the video. It’s my favorite.

 

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8 ways to calm an anxious mind

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8 ways to calm an anxious mind

An anxious mind can be hard to deal with. Your mind spins a mile a minute and you can feel paralyzed by possibilities and options and worries. I’ve been working on identifying moments where my mind feels like a runaway train and working to learn how to pump the brakes of my brain. I’ve been working on taking back control and I’ve found 8 ways to calm an anxious mind that have been helping me a lot, so I thought I’d share.

These ideas aren’t about crippling, debilitating anxiety disorders. If what you’re experiencing is beyond the realm of having some anxious thoughts, and is recurring and scary, please see your doctor. I live with obsessive-compulsive disorder and as a result have understood the true weight of a brain out of control, and I don’t ever want you to think that these suggestions replace a professional diagnosis and treatment.

Here are 8 ways to calm an anxious mind.

1. Cut the caffeine
The moment I start to identify that I’m starting to lose it (for me, an inability to sit still or think of something else and feeling like I can’t figure out what to do next), I will immediately cut off any and all caffeine. Coffee is my most favorite drink in the world, but coffee + anxiety is a terrible combination, so it’s good to stop right away. Drink some water (you can always heat it up and add lemon).

2. Make a (realistic) list of things you need/want to do
I find that when anxiety hits me, I cannot begin to figure out what I need/want to do so I will just sit staring blankly for hours if left to my own devices. Instead, I make a list of what I’d like to accomplish to feel like I’ve done something. Sometimes I’ll write “get dressed,” because little victories are still victories. You can also reverse this and make a list of what you’ve ALREADY done, so that you’ll be able to see quickly that you were able to (get out of bed, wipe down a counter, put something away, read, etc).

3. Diffuse some essential oils
I first tried essential oils to help with my emotional wellness, and in the past few months dōTerra has released an essential oil that has given me a lot of support with my anxiety. The Magnolia touch roller is my current go to – I apply it on my neck, wrists and behind my ears when I’m feeling anxious. Some other good ones are lavender, basil, bergamot and frankincense. Smells send molecules to the limbic system, which is emotional control center. Smells are powerful. I choose mine plant based.

4. Listen to familiar comforting noises
John Mayer, Ernie Halter + a playlist I made called “Peace” are all incredibly comforting sounds to me. This + the aforementioned things all combined is a powerful PAUSE to my system. I breathe deeper, feel a little more grounded and I honestly think that music can change the atmosphere. It’s one of the easiest, quickest ways to calm an anxious mind. You can find the Spotify playlist here or play it from this page 🙂 You are very welcome.

5. Journal

An open journal with comforting sounds and smells with a warm decaf tea can help you flush out what you’re feeling. Journals don’t tell you to get over it, give you advice, or glance at text messages. Much like we throw away expired and smelly foods, sometimes just the act of getting something out can be enough. While writing what’s bothering us, what we want to happen, and why we’re stuck, we can sometimes even identify more of our own personal ways to calm an anxious mind.

6. Pray
This one is here for me more than anyone else. The past year has been hard for me, spiritually. Justen’s asked me point blank if my current state of insecurity, unease, anxiety, etc. has anything to do with the same reasons I’ve not been going to church. and since then, I’ve not been able to shake the reality that they’re connected. So now I’m trying to retrain my faith muscle and pray and remember the ways God has spoken to me about the #1 of all ways to calm an anxious mind (spoiler: really digging in and trusting Him).

7. Go for a walk
Fresh air + sights and sounds + exercise can all help, even if the walk is down the street and back. Sometimes you just need to get out of the space that’s closing in on you for a minute. Exercise gives you endorphins, which trigger a positive response in your body that last for a few hours. Find some encouraging, uplifting podcasts and walk around while you listen. When looking for ways to calm an anxious mind, this is a lot of bang for your buck. 🙂

8. Take a nap
Put that stuff to bed, literally! Set an alarm, but allow yourself to sleep some things off. Often the things that make it hard to fall asleep because I worry about them look so much different in the morning. Sleep can be miraculous, even for 45 minutes.

 

Every day I’m trying to be a little bit better than I was the day before. Learning how to identify and figure out ways to calm an anxious mind (mine!) is great preventative maintenance before a massive breakdown occurs. Also, share your successes! Drop some things that work for you in the comments. Tell your best friend, parent, spouse or pet when you’ve quieted your mind. It’s a big deal. <3

 

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November dōTerra LRP order

Two years ago if you had asked me “do you think you’ll ever spend money every month on essential oils?” I probably would have laughed at you and said heck no.

and yet here we are.

I thought it would be interesting if I started showing what I’ve been ordering and what I’ve been using up. People often post pictures of their massive essential oil display, but let’s be real… sometimes you have to wonder what they even do with a bazillion bottles of plant juice, haha!

November 2018 dōTerra LRP order // stephanieorefice.net

This is what our November dōTerra LRP order looked like. Let me tell you this: I ALWAYS place my monthly order on November 1st, and that’s when they launched their holiday products and I literally spent 6 hours trying to place my order. It was… fun. So I definitely watched the tracking information and darn near cried when it finally arrived!

dōTerra LRP order November 2018 // stephanieorefice.net

This is what the insides looked like. I’d also like to note this: right before I tore open these boxes, I put a piece of bread in our toaster oven to have toast. While I was taking these photos, I started noticing a weird burnt toast smell. There were people working on our roof so I attributed it to that. A few moments later it hit me like a ton of bricks: I was probably smelling actual burnt toast. And I was. So I ate the crispiest, toastiest, burnediest piece of toast while doing this.

This month, in addition to my normal monthly order, I also took advantage of some of the holiday items in our November dōTerra LRP order – and I’m glad I got them when I did, because most of them have sold out already! Dang.

First and foremost, I got these two dōTerra throat drops. We’ve had them for awhile but in the past month I’ve really started to appreciate them. The breathe ones are great for sniffles and coughs (which Justen and I have been passing back and forth for the past week or so) and I LOVE popping in an OnGuard drop before I go to the Goodwill outlet to source items for my Poshmark closet. It may just be in my head, but it helps me feel safer from any germs and nasties that are lurking around the big tables full of discarded stuff. I was so excited to get more, because we ran out towards the end of October.

These, along with the drops, are things we use on the daily so it’s more of our normal monthly stock-up. The hdclear is a face wash Justen uses every day in the shower. Honestly, I’m sometimes amazed by the way Justen has really embraced essential oils and EO products. One day a few weeks ago, Justen wasn’t feeling good and when I got up he began telling me all the ways he’d been using oils to help fight off whatever was wrong. I was laying in bed, half awake, really proud.

The fractionated coconut oil is a carrier oil to help when we’re topically applying oils. We also use it when we make our own rollerballs.

And then you can see our really boring, but super important little stash of oils. Peppermint roller because it’s so great to help soothe headaches and a bottle of peppermint because hello holidays. TWO lemons because we go through lemon like crazy. It’s the one oil that really made everything click for me. I use it to get sticky stuff off of anything I get at the thrift store, we use it daily on our face with witch hazel, and we sometimes put a drop in our tea or water.

We’re out of purify because Justen uses it every day in his shoes (though we’ve now found something else we like better). But it’s great for cleaning the air of stinky smells .

Did we need a new diffuser? No. But did I really really want the Harvest Spice blend? Yes. Did dōTerra then release the Harvest Spice blend on its own? Yes. HOWEVER. We put this new diffuser in our kitchen, and it’s been great. It’s a very Justen diffuser, and he loves the Harvest Spice blend. I’m glad we got it, because the diffuser + blend combo sold out. We love the Harvest Spice blend so much that we’ve already ordered it on its own in case it sells out before next month.

FINALLY! EVERY TIME I have gone to order these dōTerra misters, they’ve been sold out and they were finally in stock! Praise hands emojis flying all over the place. I’ve already made a linen mist for night time (Serenity + Vetiver + Cedarwood and it is DIVINE) and a bathroom spray (Lemongrass, Bergamot, Grapefruit I believe). If our apartment was any bigger, I’d seriously make a spray for every corner of this place.

Ugandan Aroma Bracelet + Beautiful Roller. This was a holiday item that’s also sold out. I love this bracelet and I love the Beautiful blend. It’s a limited edition oil that everyone loves, but I’m honestly more excited about this adorable bracelet and the opportunity to support women around the world.

aaaand another holiday item! Earlier this year, I bought a cute little dōTerra clutch for carrying around my rollers and I LOVE it. I thought this clutch was really classy and good for grabbing just a few of them. It came with the limited edition Radiant and Dream rollers, and I’m in love with the Radiant blend.

and my last items. This OnGuard chocolate bark. Last year they had truffles that were so good, so I figured we’d try these and have enough to share with our friends. It’s really rich, and the cranberries on top give it an interesting texture.

So that’s our monthly order! A lot of these items were limited edition holiday purchases, so you’ll probably never see them again. I’m looking forward to sharing what we order and actually use up to give you an idea of what life with essential oils actually looks like.

 

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1st Anniversary Trip to Seaside, Oregon

On October 22nd, I asked Justen, “does it feel like we’ve been married for a year?” and he replied “sometimes it feels longer,” and I reminded him that answers like that are fine and dandy… until we get him set up with life insurance and then he’ll need to watch himself.

I joke.

Side note: it actually terrifies me to talk to him about getting life insurance because if something happened to him shortly after he got life insurance, I WOULD BE THE PRIME SUSPECT. Like come on, I’ve seen Forensic Files. I know what’s up.

Anyway. We snuck off to the Oregon Coast for a weekend away to celebrate. Justen booked us a room at THE CUTEST little hotel room at a place called The Tides. It’s a bunch of individually owned rooms in a bigger property. Ours was the coziest little room ever, AND he told them it was our anniversary so they left us the cutest little gift bag.

The Tides in Seaside, OR // stephanieorefhice.net

The Tides in Seaside, OR // stephanieorefhice.net

Our room was about a mile from the main Seaside area but it was RIGHT ON THE OCEAN! We walked out of our room and down a little pathway and we were at the ocean! We arrived Friday night and left Sunday and Saturday morning it was so beautiful before turning SO STORMY (it was perfect). We walked along the beach for awhile.

Seaside, OR // stephanieorefhice.net

Justen taking some senior portraits for this seagull, lol

took a really cool shot of these people and their dogs, haha! Framed so nicely in the background.

We can’t take nice pictures, like ever.

It was so beautiful, but you can see the storm coming in! Which was also so beautiful. After the beach we wandered around downtown Seaside which is full of so many cute little souvenir shops and made our way into this store which made me (stupidly) wonder why I was suddenly overcome with the desire to decorate for Christmas. IDK, you take a guess…

We went to Mo’s for some clam chowder, grabbed coffee and a Redbox and then stayed inside playing Sequence and watching our movie + Law & Order: SVU. It was great and felt so special – it sometimes feels like we rarely ACTUALLY make time for each other, to just enjoy each other’s company. I feel like I’m constantly worrying about wanting the apartment to be a little more clean, or stressing out about Poshmark, or WHATEVER. But for the weekend, we had no agenda and no real worries.

After clearing out of our cozy little slice of heaven, we took a detour to Tillamook on the way home. In case you don’t know, that Tillamook cheese and ice cream y’all have comes from Oregon and they have a big ol Tillamook creamery. We went and grabbed some ice cream before heading back home. The drive was super rainy and sometimes scary but I actually love that weather for trips!

Justen made a little video of our trip and I uploaded it to my *new* YouTube channel (y’all should SUBSCRIBE! pls?) so you can see it with your own eyes.

All jokes aside, it’s so hard to believe we’ve been married for a year already. It’s been my favorite year of my life, I think <3

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