Life After Quitting: One Month Recap

Last weekend I wrote a long post about my one-month anniversary for quitting my day job and blogging full time and my blog ate it. I was in Texas, it was 11pm (so really midnight back home) and my dashboard (the backend of my blog) seemed to go back in time several days. Posts I wrote were gone, draft posts lacked the photos and content I so painstakingly wrote and edited, a good 20 hours worth of work was missing and never recovered.

I’ve written about my blog backend woes already, luckily this was the end of the misery. I recreated the two sponsored posts that were contractually required to go live at a certain time with certain wording, but there was no way I had the time or the heart at that point to try to recreate the post about my first month as a full time blogger. I’ll try to recap it now, including this current week.

how to dress when running for office.Last weekend I was in Fort Worth, Texas with my friend and colleague, Rosana of DC Style Factory. We were invited to lead two seminars for women running for office to discuss campaign style. Just like this blog and Rosana’s personal styling business, we offered advice that helped the women work as much as possible with what they already owned in their closet and stick to their personal style, but provide ways to dress for certain campaigning events (canvassing, town halls, fundraisers, etc.) and ways to add polish and elevate their current style to look more relatable, credible, and more of an authority. It was amazing, and we’re looking to do more of these seminars across the country to help more women get elected. Stay tuned, I have a capsule wardrobe coming based off the presentation that will delve into the different looks for each occasion and the touchpoints from our presentation.

The capsule was to go live this week, but live intervened. I planned to finish up the blog post this week and have it go live today. Instead…

I received an opportunity to model clothing from ELOQUII on local TV Tuesday and Wednesday morning. Tuesday morning a little after 10am I wore this dress with these earrings on our local FOX affiliate with fellow bloggers and friends Dani of Blonde in the District and Vivi of Heart, Print, and Style. ELOQUII Creative Director Jodi Arnold was also there to discuss the brand’s awesome holiday collection. FYI, the dress runs small (a 14 was tight on me but I think a 16 may have been too long and big in the shoulders); these earrings are a sleeper hit – they're less than $20 and look super cool in person.  Wednesday morning the four of us arrived at the local CBS affiliate at 8am to do another show, this one more of a fashion show which included me walking down a set of very smooth polished stairs in a pair of heels. Your girl did NOT fall! For that one I wore this top (comes in five different colors) tucked into this skirt, with ELOQUII’s hosiery (quite nice and built for curves), this really nice necklace (adjustable length, I have it on the shortest setting), and this super cute bag. Such awesome experiences, ones I never would have been able to do if I had a day job, but it caused me to adjust my schedule and lose time for things like writing.

A blog post that was scheduled to go live this week didn’t have the clothing for it arrive until the day the post was due. Luckily the clothes not only fit but looked awesome so I threw on the look and ran out the door for the hair appointment I scheduled almost two months ago. Karl came along with his camera, we captured some photos right after my appointment, came home to edit photos (they were so good all I had to do was a bit of lightening, cropping out humans, and shrinking down to a size that wouldn’t slow down my blog), write the copy, gather the links and send it in for approval. Once I got approval a couple hours later, I scheduled the post and that’s what you saw on the blog yesterday!

Another thing I couldn’t do before when I had two jobs was volunteer at Emerson’s school. This week was the Scholastic Book Fair. I originally volunteered for Tuesday but had to move it because of the TV spot. I ended up working Thursday morning, and a longer shift because the second volunteer never showed and it was BUSY! What a fun experience though! I loved helping the kids figure out how much money they had, what books to buy, and seeing what was popular. I can’t believe Emerson not so long ago was one of those wide-eyed kindergarteners and how not long from now she’ll be one of those know-it-all 5th graders! Emerson’s class came in during my shift which made the experience extra awesome.

So with these changes, my goal was Thursday by noon be on my computer, finishing the copy to go with the political candidate capsule wardrobe, send to Rosana to ensure we’re on the same page, and schedule it to go live today. But Life had a different idea.

Monday night, lying in bed with Karl after being away since Friday morning, Karl had his hand on my breast and said, “Have you noticed this lump before?” I have fibroids, and know my peanut-shaped lumps quite well and check often to be sure those shapes don’t change and I don’t find anything new. I do my breast exams in the shower, one hand over my head. I never felt anything. But lying on my back, I felt where he did and found a marble-sized hard, round something. The next day I made an appointment with my gynecologist, the earliest he could see me was yesterday afternoon. He said he couldn’t really tell what exactly it was and was not, and prescribed me a mammogram and sonogram to get it examined.

When I left my job, I worked with a healthcare broker to find the best value insurance for me and my family. Come to find out, me staying on COBRA (the insurance provided for 18 months after leaving a job) was actually cheaper than any similar offering through the ACA/Obamacare. The ACA is NOT perfect, but I am so glad that it exists for those who are unemployed, underemployed, self-employed, or work at a small company that doesn’t provide benefits. It needs some help to make it more affordable for those who have families, and those at a variety of income levels, but it’s a good start. You know I can go on and on about politics and I won’t at this point and the ACA isn’t my issue right now.

So I signed up for COBRA in advance of November 30th, when my work benefits ended. I received my paperwork confirming it was covered, all was well. Thursday I went to see my gynecologist, providing the same insurance card I’ve always used, since COBRA says to do that. When I received my prescription for my mammogram, I called to make an appointment. I had never been there before and when I provided my insurance information they said the policy ended November 30th. They will not schedule a mammogram unless I can prove active insurance. I ended up spending over two hours on the phone with COBRA and Aetna, even together on a conference line to resolve this. COBRA says they submitted it, Aetna shows record of something but it hasn’t been confirmed and activated. They say it will be the same insurance information once activated so use the info and it should work when bills are submitted. They just don’t know when that will be, but when you mention breast lump and mammogram and start crying on a conference call with two insurance companies things get marked urgent. And thank goodness, the radiology place after hearing my woes this morning said if I bring in my COBRA paperwork they will allow a mammogram. I’m writing this at 11am, the mammogram is at 3:15. Right now I am going with the flow and the mindset that I have fussy boobs like my mom – full of weird benign things that freak people out with mammograms and annual exams that prove to be nothing. And I am grateful that this insurance mishap happened now, and not during something worse or related to Emerson. I’ll be sure to keep you posted with the results.

Speaking of health, one of the biggest reasons I quit my job was because I was worried about my health. I haven’t been this heavy since right after Emerson was born. I have a pinched nerve in my neck that radiates down my arm and makes sleep and everyday actions miserable. I can pull a muscle just stretching in the morning. I am high stress and for the first time in my life I have slightly elevated blood pressure. My diet isn’t atrocious, but it could use a refresh. What I really need is to get my strength back. So starting Monday I am working with a personal training company five mornings a week.

My father had quintuple bypass surgery when I was in 4th grade. He had several heart-related procedures over the years and it is what ended his life in 1998. All his siblings also had heart issues, and all of them have passed away (only one didn’t pass from heart-related issues). I don’t want the same to happen to me, and I don’t want the same for Emerson and Karl. I have such little willpower and lately, no motivation so I’m thinking this will force me to do it and hopefully it will help it turn into a habit and then a lifestyle. I working with Elite Technique in nearby Beltsville, Maryland. The two trainers are local guys who are familiar with dealing with middle aged squishy women who are ready to get their lives back. I don’t want to be skinny, the only times in my life I was anything remotely skinny I was unhealthy. I want to be strong. I want to be healthy. This is about honoring this body and helping it work and last longer. I’ll be sharing my journey mainly on InstaStories with the occasional update on Instagram or my weekly newsletter and keeping the focus here on the blog on fashion, style, and general lifestyle.

Back to the blog. I had a ton of sponsored posts all in a row this week, but I warned you such things would happen. I didn’t have any control over the scheduling. However, I’m really proud of them. All four are brands I love, products I picked out myself, my own words and direction on how the posts would look and sound. Karl’s photography is so so good lately, and it’s because we have more time. We can take photos at good times of day, we can drive to interesting locations, and because there’s more time there’s less stress which makes for happier photographer and more relaxed subject. I mean, just look at yesterday’s post as an example. I had my choice of what to wear from the brand, but the clothes literally arrived that morning. We shot the photos steps away from where our car was parked. I scrolled through and deleted really bad photos in the camera on the car ride home and when I got home did the quickest editing ever. But the photos are so darn good, editing isn’t needed. And these shoots are so much more fun, and I feel good promoting brands with such good content. We’re both excited to keep improving the photography for outfit shots as well as travel, beauty, and lifestyle.

Because this week got way busier than expected, I didn’t get as much blog stuff done. I had a really good call with one company I work with and did some negotiation, which is not my strong suit. The other calls were rescheduled. I left my keys in California months ago, finally got around to replacing my car key (I’ve been stealing Karl’s copy), and this week went to the post office to replace my PO box key. Yeah, a PO box key is waaaay cheaper than a keyless fob for a car. I also received our Christmas cards and went to find my address books to address them and got into a major project of transferring all the addresses all over the place into this one address book. This is something I have wanted to do for years and I’m almost finished. Got my hair cut and colored, got my nails done, did a ton of laundry, bought a bunch of presents, and just working on keeping this ship steered in the right direction.

A lot of you have had awesome requests for content on Wardrobe Oxygen. Right now I am just trying to keep it all together so the fun content won’t likely start until after the holidays. My goal is to get familiar with this new normal and bit by bit improve on what I already have going on here. Once I have the basics dialed in, I’ll be stepping things up. I’m really excited, I want to do everything now now now but know I need to slow down, take care of myself, don that oxygen mask, get through the holidays, get through life, and then dial in the blog. So stay tuned, it’s going to be a pretty awesome 2018, I can feel it!

48 Comments

  1. Dawn
    December 15, 2017 / 9:03 pm

    I’m so glad your lump was just a cyst! I’m a little late to the game because for some reason I don’t get your daily posts even though I’ve tried to sign up for them multiple times (perhaps the website woes? I’ll try again!). I also have dense, weird breasts and have had a couple of scares in recent years (I’m 47). Love your blog, have been stealth reading for years :-)!

  2. December 11, 2017 / 10:32 am

    I loved reading this! You’re such an inspiration to me. You keep it really real, which isn’t always easy to find in the fashion world. Thinking about you while you wait for test results. <3

    • December 16, 2017 / 9:41 pm

      Thank you Caitlin! It’s a cyst and one that doesn’t need to be tended to so I’m good for now!

  3. Ann Marie
    December 9, 2017 / 9:49 pm

    I used to love working out but as I have gotten older, I don’t anymore. Less time, less energy, etc. However, I still do it not because of vanity but as you suggested, to make sure this body keeps working as I get older. I treat working out like cleaning the bathroom. I don’t always want to do it but it needs to get done so get in and get out. I find that taking classes at the gym helps. I show up for Zumba class, get a good 55 minute work out in, and then I go home and get on with my day.

    • December 10, 2017 / 5:45 pm

      Such a good way to look at it. Even though we don’t like cleaning our bathrooms we know it’s necessary!

  4. Chris
    December 9, 2017 / 6:05 pm

    Allie,

    As you can probably tell, health care and insurance companies are sore points for me. I’m glad that you were able to get your tests in spite of the ins. snafus. There are a lot of us out here who care for and admire you. There is a whole tidal wave of good vibes flowing your way from your many fans!

    Love,
    Chris

  5. Laurie
    December 9, 2017 / 7:54 am

    Hope all goes well health wise. As you settle into your new routine I just want to offer some feedback and say how truly superior your blog is: your writing, photos, content : everything. The volume of information and research you provide is impressive and your writing and the way you present it is topnotch. Thank you!

  6. Dee
    December 9, 2017 / 7:33 am

    And here I thought you might be bored at home without a day job 🙂
    I’m sorry to hear about your insurance battles… been there and it’s so frustrating to get it sorted out. And I hope everything turns out the best with your health.

  7. December 8, 2017 / 6:25 pm

    Poor you – those health issues can really bring you down. The fear of what might be wrong can cause so much trouble. Hopefully you get the result fast, an all clear of course! The health care insurance situation in the US seems very chaotic to a European/Scandinavian. It’s hard to understand why everyone isn’t covered, but glad to hear you’ve got it sorted. I’m crossing my fingers for you, and follow your blog closely, eagerly awaiting news. It’s only a few days ago that I was cleared of a cancer-suspicion, so I can relate all too well to the shock and fear, both yours and your husbands! And – no matter your size, you look fantastic, and I love your new hair style.

    • December 8, 2017 / 6:44 pm

      The insurance in America is awful, and we have a president who is striving to make it even worse. I really fear what will happen in 17 months when I will have to shop for healthcare. I really fear for those who don’t have a bit of savings and can’t afford the current healthcare situation. We pride ourselves on being a country where you can go from rags to riches, but the current government is all about helping big businesses and not providing any support to entrepreneurs or self-employed individuals. Sigh.

      • Chris
        December 9, 2017 / 5:56 pm

        Amen Allie! I work with homeless folks. They walk around with raging infections, fractured bones that aren’t set, and rotting or no teeth. They can’t get a bare minimum of health care they need. It’s no wonder that mortality among homeless folks is considerably higher than among the general, housed population.

    • Chris
      December 9, 2017 / 5:51 pm

      Chaotic is a diplomatic way of saying it. Health “Insurance” is driven by greed and the patients’ health be damned. Sad but true.

  8. Lee
    December 8, 2017 / 6:19 pm

    Allison, I’m sorry to hear about the lump & the insurance problems. I’m sending tons of good thoughts & prayers your way.

    I would never have known you had so much life-stress lately based on the blog. It’s been fantastic & I continue to love it! Those sponsored posts were all well done and believable. I never once thought you were writing only for the money. I also like this new comment feature!

    • December 8, 2017 / 6:26 pm

      Wow thank you so much Lee! Yes, I heard you all, you didn’t like Disqus and I get it. Still working out the kinks with this but hope it will make it easier to comment! 🙂

  9. Gail
    December 8, 2017 / 5:23 pm

    I’m so proud of you!! I know you are so busy.. , but to support my own journey, in October I joined Phit-n-Phat (an online community for those wanting to get healthy) and have been super happy. It’s ALLLLL mindset work.. Corinne Crabtree is the owner and she’s super sassy. She has a free podcast called Losing 100 Pounds which is AWESOME. She is a student of Brooke Castillo (Life Coach School).. love her too. They both have a bunch of free resources available.

    These folks have made a huge difference in my life..I have lost about 8 pounds just by eating on a hunger scale and dealing with my thoughts. Fantastic stuff. (and no fracking calorie counting.. blecht.. hate that stuff.)

    I love hearing about your new venture and continue to be a loyal fan! Get it girl!

    • December 8, 2017 / 6:27 pm

      That sounds wonderful, Gail. Thank you so much for sharing!

  10. HM
    December 8, 2017 / 4:27 pm

    I think I’ve only commented one other time, Alison, but I wanted to let you know how much I appreciate your blog and perspective. I’m so sorry to hear about the stress and struggle you’ve had with insurance, on top of your stress about the lump. Take care of yourself, and know your readers are thinking of you and hoping for the best.

  11. December 8, 2017 / 4:25 pm

    I so appreciate your honesty, authenticity and real life! Wishing you all the very best with your breast health and your overall health! Good for you for reminding us that our health is our priority! LOVe your blog!

  12. nancy
    December 8, 2017 / 3:35 pm

    I’m inspired to comment just to say how much I enjoy your blog, and that I can really tell how much work goes into it. It shows! Also want to let you know that I’m sending good vibes to you and praying for a good result to the mammogram. Hugs.

    • December 8, 2017 / 6:29 pm

      Thank you so much Nancy! Waiting for the doctor to review it but so far they think it’s just a cyst. Whew!

  13. Tara
    December 8, 2017 / 3:16 pm

    Allie–I am sending you lots of love! I have dense breasts myself and got called back in for a follow-up sonogram and mammogram after my mammogram earlier this year and luckily all was well. I am heavily pre-disposed to breast cancer so it was nerve-wracking but you are right, all we can do is get more information and move forward. I have been reading you daily and commenting sporadically for years but let me say this: You are always so authentic and REAL and I truly appreciate that. Please know that you and your health and happiness come first and we’ll be here cheering for you every step of the way. Have a great weekend.

    • December 8, 2017 / 6:29 pm

      Thank you so much Tara! I am glad you are okay. They think it’s just a cyst but are sending it to the doctor for the final decision. <3

      • Tara
        December 12, 2017 / 1:43 pm

        Well, that would be a GREAT outcome. For what it’s worth, my OB/Gyn found a worrisome bump and it turned out to be a cyst. I don’t think I would have found it on my own, so thank goodness Karl and you are so in tune with your body. This is a crazy time of year in a normal year, so THIS year in particular is even worse–between work transitions, the political atmosphere, insurance headaches and waiting on lab results, sending you lots of love and appreciation!

  14. ClaraT
    December 8, 2017 / 3:10 pm

    Wow, girl, what a rollercoaster! (With the requisite highs and lows and unexpected jolts 🙂 ). So glad you can take advantage of mid-day opportunities now (book fairs are the best–you get to meet kids and parents plus buy presents while supporting your school!)
    Sending you good vibes for the appointment today.

  15. Linda
    December 8, 2017 / 2:58 pm

    It’s 3pm, and I am thinking about you. Do not worry; all will be well. xoxo from Athens, GA

    • December 8, 2017 / 6:30 pm

      Thank you Linda!! They think it’s just a cyst, waiting for the doctor’s final opinion on it though 🙂

  16. Cynthia
    December 8, 2017 / 2:56 pm

    Allie, sending positive thoughts and energy to you. Take care of yourself first, please.

  17. Vickie
    December 8, 2017 / 2:51 pm

    Sounds like you are doing well! Keeping my fingers crossed that your test results are all negative.

  18. Jennifer
    December 8, 2017 / 2:40 pm

    Just chiming in again to say that your stressful week was not reflected at all in the quality of the posts or photos (and it is great that Karl has a better platform for his considerable skills). You’re doing great. I did notice a lot of sponsored content in a row, and it’s useful to know why. I love these behind the scenes posts, especially because my own life is in turmoil on a couple of fronts, and it’s so easy to think that everyone else is perfect and I’m the only one waylaid by circumstances. Also, I had a weird mammogram and have to go back in 6 months, so 1) breast weirdness happens a lot and 2) I’m sending lots of support for a benign result and a quick resolution.

    • December 8, 2017 / 6:32 pm

      Thank you so much Jennifer! Yes I’m finding out a lot of us have dense and weird breasts, and it seems to increase over the age of 35. SO far it seems to be a cyst but the doctor will review and get back to me. And I like letting you know what goes behind the scenes – not only does it add a human element, but it also shows the work that goes into a blog. There’s many who think blogging is just smiling for a camera, but it’s way more work than my previous day job!

  19. Linda B
    December 8, 2017 / 2:37 pm

    Hey Allison, this was quite a recap! I found it interesting to hear all the ups and downs, and I am sure others are also finding it interesting–a real slice of life, eh? Thanks in advance for updating us on the results of the mammogram.

  20. December 8, 2017 / 2:32 pm

    I am laughing because after working 35 years “without a real job” as my long grown kids used to say, you will think things will slow down or you will get into a routine. Probably not…but that is what is so great about being in control of how you make a living! Keep it going!-Laurel
    https://littleblackdomicile.com

    • December 8, 2017 / 6:33 pm

      So true! If it got routine, it wouldn’t be so exhilarating!

  21. Shawnessy
    December 8, 2017 / 2:17 pm

    Well, congrats on quitting your “real” job. Ha – blogging is most certainly real – as you’ve written about here. I didn’t realize that you’d made such a leap until I randomly logged into Twitter today. It’s nice to catch up with you, A. I’ve always enjoyed your writing and stories. I’m so glad you’re going to be able to get the mammo. Fingers crossed it’s nothing. Take good care! Keep it up!

  22. Katie
    December 8, 2017 / 2:16 pm

    I like all your content but especially appreciate the “behind the scenes” posts. The business of blogging is so interesting! I hope your tests go well today.

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