June 25, 2015

Getting Healthier with Amwell

*This is a sponsored post with Mums the Word Network and Amwell. All opinions are my own.*

Upon arriving back from vacation two weeks ago, I started to feel really tired. I assumed it was simply because I'd been so busy over the course of my three weeks in Charleston. Then the dreaded congestion began, with sinus pressure, recurrent cough and a swollen throat. How's that for summer fun?

As a work from home/stay at home mom, it's very difficult for me to schedule doctor's appointments for myself. I could bring the boys, but let's be honest, it's so much harder to focus on what the doctor is saying with two little ones bouncing off of the walls.

Does this look familiar??



That's where Amwell comes in! American Well is a service that allows you to see a doctor from the comfort of your own home or on the go. You can access it with your computer or through their convenient mobile app. It's both simple and affordable. 


American Well Physicians



There are many reasons using a web-based service like this is beneficial. Perhaps you're out of town and don't want to visit an Urgent Care or Emergency Room. Maybe you just want a second opinion. For me, it was about convenience. As I mentioned before, finding someone to watch the kids can be difficult at times. I just barely managed to squeeze in a doctor's appointment last Friday and know that I won't have the opportunity to go tomorrow. I'm still not feeling well and my symptoms have progressed and worsened in the last few days. Now I can also add high fever and chills to the list. It was necessary for me to follow-up with my illness and this is the easiest way for me to accomplish that, so that I can start feeling better, sooner.

It was very easy to sign up, too. I have to admit, I was a bit skeptical at first about using an online medical service, but it was more extensive than I thought. When you sign up, you're asked about your medical history, what your current symptoms are, your vitals (temperature, weight) and whether you're allergic to any medications. From there, you are provided an array of online physicians to peruse through. Their profiles provide credentials, such as where and how long they've been in practice, as well as their specialty areas. 

Amwell Physicians Profiles


Once you've picked your physician, you simply click "Start Visit" and you are connected as soon as they are available to see you. I only waited about 2 minutes before my visit began. 

My physician was wonderful. She asked me several questions about my doctor's visit last week, including what medications were prescribed, how long I'd taken them, etc. She also explained why I'm having recurrent symptoms, prescribed a new antibiotic and sent the prescription straight to my preferred pharmacy. 

I believe in the importance of in-person visits with a trusted physician. I do not think one should use this service as a primary means of receiving medical attention, long-term. I would however, use it again as needed, to supplement my current care. And as you can see, Amwell also provides diet and nutrition and psychology support as well. 

A typical visit is $49, but all Defining My Happy readers can use the code: LOVEAMWELL40 to get $40 off of their visit. 

Cheers to healthier days ahead!!





June 19, 2015

On Love / Vol 1

It's been so long since I've written here, that I'm not sure how to proceed anymore. Not that I haven't been writing at all; simply more to paper than anywhere else. A few months ago, I purchased this black moleskin notebook and told myself that I'd get back to basics. That I'd find the heart of writing again. As you may have noticed, my posts have been sporadic and mediocre at best. Simply put, I had to take a break. It was the little things, like wanting to put more focus back into my "real" life. Wanting to live more in the moment. I even stopped taking so many pictures, because it didn't feel authentic. The normal hum drum of life came as it always does and swept me away for a bit.

Then I went home. 

Back to Charleston, for three whole weeks. I went to the beach and walked along the Battery and took the kids bowling. I went rollerskating (sans kids) for the first time in 13 years and I watched my sister-in-law graduate high school. I conversed with my five year old niece about the latest fashion and watched her eyes sparkle as she spoke.








Several nights, I stood outside under the stars, listening to the crickets and frogs in the pond beside the house. The only constellations I found I remembered were the Big and Little Dipper, but I still reveled in that knowledge. I was brutally attacked by blood thirsty mosquitos and wore the proof like a badge of courage for days. I watched my boys laugh with their grandparents and aunts and uncles. 


He's not mad, there was glare from the sun. ;)

We caught a lizard and named him Batman. We caught a frog and named him Batman, too. Auntie let them name her new fish and they called him Snowman Frosty the Snowman Batman Ryland Bosse. We splurged on expensive and overly iced cupcakes downtown and I cursed the narrow streets and my terrible parallel parking skills. We waved to the horses carrying all of the tourists down cobbled roads. 




We visited Magnolia Gardens and rowed the canoe haphazardly around trees and plucked enormous water lilies as we passed by and pretended we were in The Notebook.











My best friend whisked me away to Charlotte for a Third Eye Blind and Dashboard Confessional concert at the Music Factory. The car maintenance light came on halfway there and we had to stop and pull out the manual in a Starbucks parking lot. We thought we weren't going to make it to the event, but then the maintenance light miraculously turned off and we made it just in time. I think about that long three hour drive back at midnight and how we pulled over into a deserted gas station parking lot and I said, "This is like the beginning of every horror movie I have ever seen", and she said, "shh. Let me sleep a minute." And when we finally got back on the road, we were so awake. It was 2 am and the conversation was so profound and suddenly the Universe made so much sense. I'll never forget that. 




There were hard moments too. I sliced open my finger one day, there were tears another, the boys misbehaved occasionally. I witnessed others' pain and fear and doubt. I learned about the lives you can't see on social media or hear across a cell tower. I was squished into a tiny sliver of the bed I shared with the boys and didn't sleep well much of the three weeks we spent, but I still felt better than I'd felt in a long time. 

You can't buy these things, these moments.



When I initially left for Charleston at the end of May, I was feeling so burnt out, so in need of something. Of what, I wasn't really sure. I hoped and expected to have all of these epiphany-like moments where everything would make sense. I romanticized that I'd get to the beach, my beach, and stand in the salty water and feel the current rushing against my legs and know the answers to all of the questions I hadn't been able to articulate. When I left, I was disappointed because I didn't feel like I knew any more then when I'd first arrived.




It took driving back across the country, just me and the boys, and shacking up in the middle of nowhere Kentucky and enduring torrential rain and toddler tantrums and about a billion "are we there yet's??" before it all started to sink in. It wasn't some bright light moment. It was a slow dawning. A creeping awareness of all that had transpired; not merely in that three weeks, but over the course of the last several years. Every mistake, every accomplishment, every time I didn't feel like getting up but did it anyway. Every time I chose kindness over cruelty, every moment that I offered and was offered forgiveness. All of these tiny specks gluing themselves together to make up all of what I see standing before the mirror every morning. 

I've been cowardly when I should have been brave, obstinate when I should have been fluid, quiet when I should have been loud. I've taken and been taken for granted. I've been less than appreciative when I should have been more so. I've said things I didn't mean, done things I shouldn't have, looked outward when I should have looked in. I haven't been perfect by any means. In fact, I've simply been human. 

And human is hard, sometimes. 

But those tiny specks are tinier still when compared to the times I've been good and kind and compassionate. When I've helped others, gone above and beyond, overlooked a personal injustice. Everything I've done is from a place of love. And sometimes that love manifests into other things like doubt, fear, unkindness. The core, still being that ever beating heart. Looking beyond myself, I can see the same rings true of most everyone.




I still have questions I can't articulate. But I do believe that I found the ultimate answer, in those three weeks back home. Seeing our families, spending time with friends, listening to the words not said, understanding that we are all flawed but trying. The undercurrent of it all was love. 

There are a lot of life changes coming soon and I can't wait to share them with you all. But for now, just know that I'm back. And it's good to be here once more. 

May 2, 2015

Dinner Made Simple with Hamburger Helper




As parents, we all know how busy life can get. I recently signed Landon up for soccer, which was a first unto itself. But then, I went and signed myself up to be assistant coach for his team! It was a great learning experience for me, both on and off the field. Our practices and games were set during dinnertime, often leaving me scrambling beforehand to whip something up or grabbing something on the way home. Luckily, a friend gave me an easy family dinner idea. Hamburger Helper; why hadn't I thought of that?!

It's a quick, simple, value meal. All you need is ground beef (or chicken) and you're set! 

Hamburger Helper Rebate


Not to mention, Hamburger Helper boasts a variety of dinner ideas that even the pickiest member of the family will enjoy. (Chris is more of a lasagna man, while I prefer Mexican)


Crunchy Taco Dinner


You can customize each dinner to your liking. The Crunchy Taco dinner is great as a salad, simply by adding fresh Spinach or Romaine. And if you love all things spicy like me, you could throw in some fresh or pickled jalapeƱos! 

Or, just eat as is- that works too ;)


Hamburger Helper Dinner


To make dinner even easier and more affordable, check out the Hamburger Helper Rebate. They're giving you FREE beef, to help you with the dinnertime scramble. 


Hamburger Helper Rebate


When life gets too busy, don't let dinner be just another item on the perpetual "to-do" list. Let Hamburger Helper give you a break!




Click below to learn more about the free beef rebate:

Hamburger Helper Rebate



* Thank you to Helper for sponsoring today’s post and inspiring me to try your Free Ground Beef Rebate!



March 28, 2015

The Notion of Home




There is this moment I have been recounting as of late. I had been in labor with Landon for twelve hours and after another round of pushing and holding my breath and pushing some more, the doctor stood up and said, "We need to perform an emergency cesarean." The contractions continued to wash over me and suck me under like a strong current, but I wasn't ready to call in help. I didn't want to admit to what felt at the time like a very personal defeat.

My baby wouldn't come out. No matter what I said or did, how hard I pushed or how much I begged. I couldn't do it. He would have to be cut from my womb.

The nurses began to prep me for surgery. It was all such a flurry of activity; the fetal heart machine beeping, an oxygen mask being placed over my mouth and nose. The pain continued to course through me, worsening on one side, leaving me curled up in agony. And all I remember thinking at the time was, why does this have to be so hard? This too. Not one thing in my life has ever come naturally or easily to me. I'd had to claw my way out of the darkest parts of my childhood alone. I'd seen and experienced too much, too young. I'd survived cruelty and injustice, absence, poverty and familial wars. I'd been told growing up that I wasn't good enough, wouldn't amount to anything, the odds were stacked against me. 

Moving away, working two jobs to put myself through school and building a career after graduation was supposed to make life easier, wasn't it? Things would happen on my terms. 

Only, that's not how life works, despite the various ways we go about living it. Hardships have a way of leveling the playing field. My heart beats no differently now than it did back then.

The moment before I was wheeled down to the operating room, tears streaming down my face, I said, "I want to go home."

Home.

When my life feels so far beyond my control, I think of that moment in the hospital and what those five words really meant as I said them.

I want to go home, which at various times in my life has translated to:
I can't take the loneliness one minute more.
These problems feel too big to handle.
This room feels so empty.
My heartache is permeating everything around me.

I want to go home.
He never loved me.
She wasn't a true friend.
I have been used up and spit out one too many times.
People are not as good and kind as I once believed.

I want to go home.
I feel like I'm constantly failing.
I don't know which path to take.
I'm scared that I'll never have the answers.

I want to go home.
This Winter has lasted so long.
My reflection caught me off-guard.
No one seems to get it.
I'm searching for a feeling and I've realized it's not here.

I want to go home.

But the thing is, there isn't any place you can go in the world that will take you there. Believe me, I've tried. Life is both cruel and kind, fair and unjust, full of joy and despair. For every new love, there lies a broken heart. For every tear shed, a smile born elsewhere. 

There have been many moments since that day four years ago in the hospital where I have uttered those five words, but today, I think I finally understand. With time often comes clarity. The lesson here being that the feeling of home has to come from within. It can't be bought or bottled or run to. There is no pill that will transport you there, no person or animal who can harness it for you 100% of forever. There is no amount of pushing or begging that will make it so.

You have to find it in yourself. You have to be your biggest fan, your endless support system. Even when it hurts like hell and you can't breathe and tears are streaming down your face and you don't think you can possibly take another minute of whatever it is you are going through, close your eyes and try again. And once you do move past the hardship and ease into life once more, rest assured that it will shift beneath you again, forcing you to adapt and reconfigure your notions. This is a lifelong lesson.

When you finally realize this, you won't have to look any further. You'll have made it.



*image via

March 26, 2015

Get Fit with ClassPass

Going to the gym can be a love/hate thing for me, especially when I feel like it's becoming too monotonous. My gym does offer some classes, which helps, but doesn't quite shake things up as much as I'd like. 

That's why, when ClassPass reached out to me last month to announce their program launch in Kansas City, I was so excited! Their program extends from coast to coast in many major cities and even a few overseas. I just finished my first month and decided it's the perfect time to share details on how it works.

You may be asking: What is ClassPass? It is a monthly membership service which provides you access to a wide variety of fitness studios in your city. There's zumba, barre, martial arts, cycling, pilates, crossfit and so much more. I took barre, hot yoga, jazzercise and even a pole fitness class!


Fitness with ClassPass




It's really simple to sign up and manage your classes as well. You log in:





Once you're logged in, you can click on the classes tab and search based on times, days, classes, instructors, proximity, etc. Click reserve and you're all set! You even get a reminder email with instructions on what you should bring and whether or not you need to arrive early for set-up. 


The thing I love most about ClassPass is the variety. I no longer feel like I'm in a workout rut. The only downside that I ran across was that the studios I tried didn't offer childcare. I'm assuming most fitness boutiques don't. The good news is however, they offer early morning and evening classes which can help combat the childcare issue. The hubs was more than happy to watch the kiddos so I could take a few in the evening. 

If you hate the idea of monotony in your workout, this program would definitely be for you!



Be sure to check them out on Facebook or visit their site for more information.

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