Connect Bluetooth to WHERE?– (Thoughts on my.Flow and other period business)

Just today I’ve seen several articles and mentions in YouTube videos about this product called my.Flow, a period tracker that syncs via Bluetooth to an app which tells you when your tampon is full. As someone who both owns a vagina and a smart phone, these are my thoughts on the product from the articles I’ve seen.

As far as technology goes, I think this product is really interesting. I’ve seen the Buzzfeed post of the Kegel exercise device/app to measure your pelvic floor muscles, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t extremely curious to try it out (if it wasn’t so expensive!). I’ve become very intent on utilizing technology to track my period using an app, something I never did until recently and wish I’d been doing it all along. Having access at your fingertips to the comings (hah) and goings of your body is such an important part of not just your sexual health, but health in general.

As a former tampon user, I can attest to the terror and paranoia that come with having an excessive amount of blood. Having to be at work on the heaviest days of my period were miserable, because I would worry about leaking through my costume in the two hours between breaks. Forget the cramps: a little Advil can numb that. Nothing can save you if your tampon is full. Most days I would chance the chaffing and uncomfortable diaper-feeling for the secure backup of a pad. For that reason, I like the concept of my.Flow: being able to differentiate between paranoia and actually knowing if you have some time before absolutely needing to go to the bathroom right now.

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However, I feel like this product seems too cumbersome just to tell you what you usually already know. Having a tampon string long enough to clip it to your waistband is too much. I can’t even put my phone in my pocket with headphones attached to it without ripping something out. Having something tug on a tampon string connected to a pager could make for a messier situation than a small leak.

From the few pages I’ve visited, it seems like consumers will also have to buy the special tampons that go along with the product. Tampons are already expensive, and having to order special Bluetooth-friendly ones just adds to the cost that is already forced upon vagina-havers for something we never asked for.

There are enough dangers associated with tampons. Now we’re adding wires and technology on top of the chemicals used. While the concept is cutting-edge, I think there are still better ways to go about handling menstruation.

When I first started my period, I only used pads. Tampons were scary to me and it took about a year or longer before I finally went to using them. Pads are messy and make you feel dirty for sitting in a puddle of your own blood, hoping you don’t shift the wrong way and leak everywhere. Tampons were uncomfortable to figure out at first but finally they became my weapon of choice. Except for the occasional leakage, they’re much more discrete and seem to do a better job all around. However, I knew I kept tampons in for much longer than is recommended. Screen Shot 2016-05-18 at 5.30.41 PM

I slept in my tampons, leaving them in for up to 12 hours depending on the sleep schedule I was on. How I never got TSS I have no idea. It was when I finally realized just how dangerous I was being every month that I made a change. Just a few months ago I decided to invest in a menstrual cup (I use the Lunette cup) and I’m never going back.

While a cup can run you $30-$40, it’s reusable for much more than the same amount of money can get you in tampons and pads. While a menstrual cup can seem pretty overwhelming, it’s been the best decision I could have made for myself. No worries of Toxic Shock, very seldom is leaking a worry, and you are able to leave it in for up to 12 hours without needing to empty it. The benefits of using a cup is well worth the try.

I understand the attractiveness of being able to see from an app how everything is holding up down there, however, I think it’s not quite necessary. It’s too much technology hooked up to your hoo-hah that can just be solved by other means. It’s a product I appreciate the sentiment from, but not something I think I’ll explore.

 

 

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My Reading Style

I’ve been listening to a lot of podcasts recently because music brings out a lot of emotions that I still don’t wish to explore. So podcasts and YouTube videos have been a big portion of my daily background recently. My current favorite podcast is by one of my favorite blog authors, Anne Bogel from Modern Mrs. Darcy. Her podcast “What Should I Read Next?” has added so many books to my tbr list and is making me think a lot more critically about the books I read.
In her podcast she always asks her guests what their reading style is and has them list three books they love, one they hate, and what they’re reading right now. In writing this post, I want to emulate that model and discuss how my reading habits have changed through my life.
My reading style is still very much encouraged by habit, but I’m trying to change my style and that’s what matters. Even as a 22-year old, I still really lean towards reading middle grade books. There’s so much to learn about growing up in these books meant for preteens and there’s such an innocence to them that I love to read. They’re easy escape books and I can breeze through them.
When I was a young teenager, I avoided YA books. I tried a few and the ones I picked were contemporary novels about the lives of high schoolers that I couldn’t relate to. The sex and partying in these books were nothing that I wanted to be involved in and it turned me off for the entire section of books because I hadn’t found the right ones. Because of these few bad experiences, I assumed every piece of YA fiction was the same.
Similarly, I was recommended a book when I was about 12 or 13 from the adult section of the library and was so horrified by the amount of sexual content in an otherwise wonderful book. Of course back in high school and even into college I was quite a prude and was embarrassed by the idea of sex between anyone and wasn’t ready for it to be a part of my library. My severe innocence gave me a lot of trouble in high school when the subject matter in many of the books we read in English class got to be too much. But that’s another story that I would love to delve into later.
When I was a teenager, a big part of my reading habits was finding one author I loved and reading every book they had written until I had completed their entire collection. Authors such as Beverly Lewis and Ted Dekker nearly have entire shelves on their own in my personal library. Once I found an author or topic I loved, I couldn’t focus on any other book until I had tired myself out of my current obsession. This makes sense with my tastes for all kinds of media. I have just enough appreciation for everything that I can become obsessed with a topic for a short period of time and then move onto something else.
To this day I still have a hard time finding contemporary novels I like. I’m  not a fan of chick-lit and hardly ever find some from that genre that I enjoy. Just like anything there are, of course, exceptions, but in general I prefer other types of stories. While I don’t have a problem with sexual content in books anymore, so many stories have it for the sake of writing it. If a detailed sexual encounter serves your story, by all means I’ll enjoy it. If it could be left out or minimized, I’d much rather continue with the plot than sex for the sake of sex. I’ll never pick up 50 Shades of Grey because that kind of story doesn’t serve any purpose in my reading life.
A constant from my younger reading self to now is my fondness for historical fiction. My favorite things to read about are medieval times, piracy, and anything around 1900-1940’s America. Although I’ll read any kind of historical fiction, these are by far my favorite time periods. I went through a Tudor Family phase where I wanted to read every book on King Henry VII. Even before working as a pirate I’ve loved pirate stories both fiction and non-fiction. The early 20th century had so much history from the boom in immigration to two world wars, prohibition, and all new forms of progress, which makes it so diverse and interesting to find books from that time period.
I’ve also always been a fan of the adventure that comes with fantasy, apocalyptic, and thrill books. Anything with a lot of drama and plot twists and excitement is always a great pick for me. Whether it’s dragons or aliens or serial killers, I’m such a believer in a fast-paced adventure.
Something that will never change in my reading style is my ability to devour a book in one sitting. While it doesn’t always happen, when I become completely enthralled in a story, I can’t and won’t put the book down until I’ve read the last page and the sequel (if applicable) is on order. Growing up homeschooled, I had a math book and a library card and spent hours at the library and would leave with stacks I couldn’t see over and would finish them all before the due date. There have been days where I’ve finished more than one book because I was so hungry for the story it provided me.
I’m in that weird age where YA isn’t quite directed at me anymore, but adult fiction doesn’t feel 100% relevant to me yet. This is such a strange age to be, where I can relate to both areas and not feel quite at home in either. Recently I’ve found myself reading a lot of timeless-era books with heavy themes, some thrill and mystery, and slightly supernatural. These ideas flow pretty well between age groups and don’t require the reader to be at any one place in their life to enjoy the journey of the characters.
As I said, I lean a lot towards middle grade books even now. Although I’ve been able to find some really wonderful YA books through the last few years as well. I still feel like I’ve hardly branched out enough into the classics and adult books. For the last few years I’ve attempted to challenge myself in reading a classic every few months or so, just to feel more well-rounded. While I have a lot of adult novels on my shelves, I’m trying to work through them around my beloved YA series that are so popular right now. with this podcast though I’ve discovered a new love for adult fiction and have been able to broaden my reading scope to an entire section of the library I have only skimmed before.
Similarly, I read very little non-fiction. The last few years I’ve also found a few memoirs and positive self-reflection type books that I’ve made my way through as a way of encouraging myself through this whole “growing up” thing. I’m very appreciative of these books that hold truth and experience in them, whether I read them often or not. Some days when I’m feeling discouraged, I’ll pick up a biography or memoir of someone who also struggled at one or many times in their life. Reading is such a wonderful way to remember you’re not alone, and while fictional characters’ struggles can be helpful too, there’s nothing like non-fiction truth to keep that real person’s experience close to your own.
Some of my favorite books will always be the ones I read in my childhood. Those books were the ones that shaped me into the reader and person that I am today. I believe so strongly that books are important no matter what it is you’re reading. If it speaks to you and satisfies the need you have, then it’s a good book, or magazine, or blog. It’s interesting to see how habits change and tastes mature along with the reader. I’m proud of the books I’ve read and excited for the ones I haven’t discovered yet.
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The Star Wars Half Marathon

About this time last year my friend Skylar and I decided to sign up for a half marathon together. We signed up for the Avengers Half Marathon at Disneyland so we could also plan a trip for the 60th anniversary and holiday events.

When we signed up, we thought we would train and work hard to meet our goal for the November race. I was extra ambitious and signed up for the Infinity Gauntlet Challenge, which meant I was running the 10k and the half marathon. Neither of us did much training, and by “much” I mean, “I don’t think we trained at all.” Life was busy and work days were long and boyfriends and roommates took priority over running. Fair enough.

Because training was low on the list of worries, I was not at all prepared for my 19.3 miles that weekend. Somehow I managed to push through, even though it meant I didn’t get the most out of my Disneyland trip because I was asleep in the hotel for two days after my races. I cried for the last 4 miles because everything hurt and I realized I made a mistake in not preparing at all. There was a point where I didn’t think I would make it and just wanted to sit down and wait for the wheelchairs to pick me up and take me to the finish line.

I was so relieved to cross that finish line, and although I was frustrated with myself, I was proud that I had persevered through the race. I proved to myself that I could finish on time and showed what my body was capable of. With that being said, I also vowed to never sign up for a race that long without committing to at least a little bit of training leading up to it.

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My race medals after taking a loooooong nap in the hotel.

Fast-forward to the beginning of this year. Tax returns came and I had planned on  saving mine to put towards another Disneyland trip with Jay for his birthday later this year. With our breakup, I had no other plans for that return (besides using it to pay off my credit card, which would have been the responsible thing to do). I wanted to start running again to help with my depression and emotions that remained after such an awful heartbreak and I saw there was still registration available for the Star Wars half marathon in April–8 weeks away. I found a training guide and signed up.

Now, I didn’t follow my training guide. In fact, I never ran farther than 3 miles in those 8 weeks. But I averaged walking at least 7 miles a day at work, plus I had friends to encourage me and run with me a few times a week. Even consistently running 3 miles every few days made such a huge difference when it came time for the race on April 17th.

I made it to the race expo the day before my race to get my t-shirt and race packet. To me, the expo is what gives me the motivation to get up the next day for the race. There is so much energy from the people excited to run their various events during the weekend.

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As soon as I saw the signage, it became so much more real that I was actually doing this race.

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All of my race gear ready to go early in the morning.

I worked until seven or eight o’clock on Race Eve, and my alarm was set for two in the morning to be able to make it to EPCOT for parking. It was that moment that I suddenly felt anxious about running this race. I suddenly remembered how unprepared I felt at Disneyland for the race and it scared me for this one. For a moment I lost all confidence in myself and wished I was at home sleeping.

Something cool that happened before the race was that they had several character meet-and-greets out both before and after the race. As someone who isn’t fast enough to factor in character photos during a race, I really appreciated the incorporation of characters during that time before heading off to the corrals. I hadn’t seen the line for Boba Fett until it was too late, but I did manage a photo with the storm troopers.

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Other characters included Darth Maul, Darth Vader, and Captain Phasma.

It really wasn’t until I was in my corral (L for “Last!”) that I realized I couldn’t back out. When the time finally came to GO there was no turning back. While training with my friend Kristen, we had recently developed an appreciation for :30 intervals so that was my plan for the majority of the race. There were times I would walk a few extra “dings” but then I would make up for it and run the same amount of time. Somehow, I felt really good.

IMG_9482During my first half marathon, I was shot by mile 7. It dawned on me too far along just how far 13.1 miles really was. By mile 9 I was ready to sit on the ground and wait for a wheelchair to pick me up. By mile 10 I was in tears because every part of my body ached and felt like my joints were separating with 3 miles still to go. I felt emotionally and physically broken by the time I hobbled over the finish line and went straight to my hotel room.

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I chose one character photo instead of a bathroom break so I could meet Sabine (And Ezra, but Sabine was more important to me).

This time around, none of that happened. Around those miles 8-10 I felt overwhelmed, but I knew it wasn’t impossible. The tears I cried were when I crossed the finish line and realized how good I still felt even with as little training as I did. I proved to myself that I was capable of making great time and pushing myself to complete this massive distance.

I completed Avengers in 03:30:00, and Star Wars in 03:12:23. Going from a 15:51 pace to a 14:41 pace and shaving almost 18 minutes off a half marathon time was so amazing to me. I knew I wanted to “do better” than my last half, but I had no idea I would do that much better.

The race had started at EPCOT and ended at ESPN, so I took a charter bus to the Polynesian and took the monorail to EPCOT from there. During the bus ride I rested and wished my phone hadn’t been dying or I could have gone to a park to show off my medal with the rest of the racers. Instead I went home and napped for five hours, but I deserved it.

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Crossing the finish line.