I’m Sharing A Big Secret To Help Save Jason Rubacky’s Mom

I don’t publicly talk about this ever, but I have nothing to hide and the opportunity came up to help some really great people, so I’m going to share my story.

Prior to spilling my secret, I want to talk about the people this could help. Jason Rubacky is an acquaintance of mine from the affiliate marketing industry. While I haven’t had a chance to hang out with him in person a ton, as you know in the online marketing world, that doesn’t mean much when 90% of your business, and sometimes social interactions happen online.

Jason’s mother suffers from several chronic illnesses. There are a ton of good causes out there to support, but this one is personal- and you should treat it the same way. It’s not my story to tell, so for more about the details of Jason’s mom’s condition, click here to read his post and contribute: Save Jason’s Mom.

My story, and the reason I take this so personally is I also suffer from several chronic diseases. At the age of 13, I was diagnosed with JRA- also known as Juvenile (or Junior if you want) Rheumatoid Arthritis. For those not familiar, it’s an auto-immune disease that attacks your joints and causes them to swell. Unlike other forms of arthritis, it doesn’t necessarily limit itself to a few areas of your body. It can also effect your organs, mental health- everything. It’s terrible. It’s painful, it messes with your head, and it makes you sick frequently because your body spends so much time fighting for your joints it doesn’t have the energy left to fight anything else.

This alone wasn’t absolutely terrible, as I had a milder form of the arthritis that was usually manageable with medication.

Last year, however, you may remember a little story about a road trip to Austin I took with Stephanie Lichtenstein (@MicroSteph) and Walt Ribeiro (@WaltRibeiro). If not, I won’t retell it but read the full recap here: Road Trip from Hell. In addition for thanking them again for tolerating hell, I’d like to thank them for being wonderfully supportive. They are another part of the reason I wanted to share this with you- people Jason, Steph, Walt and everyone who is reaching out to support http://savejasonsmom.org/ are insanely helpful- whether it means spreading the word, supporting the person going through the illness, or making a donation to help.

Because I had been working so much and worry about my health so little, I didn’t think much of taking a road trip to Austin last minute with flights being sold out or insanely expensive. Well, that road trip led to bronchitis day 2 of the trip, which caused a lung infection a week later, which put me on so much medication in addition to my regular meds I ended up with another chronic disorder- of the blood this time, protein C deficiency (to save yourself the trouble of Wikipedia’ing this, click here). While JRA/RA and the blood deficiency are considered genetic disorders, I have regular blood tests due to the RA and had never tested positive for any other chronic illnesses until after this trip.

I’m not at all being dramatic when I tell you I almost died last year. I was tired all the time, my blood wasn’t clotting properly, and no one could figure out how, why, or what to do to stop it. I couldn’t work full time, or at all really, because between my joints hurting all the time and bleeding like crazy from a minor cut, I was pretty much bed ridden. I’m getting better, but remember, chronic means you deal with it for life- it never really goes away.

I wasn’t going to share all this because it’s not really relevant to what I talk about on a day-to-day basis in my blog, tweets, facebook, etc. I know what Jason’s family is going through though, and it sucks.

While we don’t share the same conditions, we share the same pain. Not working full time means no health insurance. Have you ever tried to get health insurance when you have a pre-existing condition? If you’re even able to find a provider, your deductible (the amount you have to pay before the insurance can actually kick in) can be in the hundreds of thousands- or even the millions. Insurance companies can actually refuse to cover the specific conditions you’ve been diagnosed with because you’re too much of a liability. Not only do you have to cover basic bills like rent or a mortgage, food, car, insurance, utilities, and so on and so forth, but there’s doctor visits, specialty visits, treatments, medications, surgeries. You not only pay for the visit to the hospital- but for every little needle they stick in your arm, every person who walks into your room, every machine they hook you up to to figure out what’s wrong.

While you can actually end up hitting the deductible in one hospital visit, can you actually afford it?! I know I couldn’t, and still can’t. It actually becomes impossible to survive the basics, let alone keep up with medical expenses.

Let’s say you actually have insurance and do some basic math:

One General MD doctor’s visit a week: $30 x 4 = $120

Three specialist visits a week @ $50/ each: $150 x 4 = $600

Two treatments a week @ $50/ each: $100 x 4 = $400

An MRI and a CAT scan = $500

5 medications @ $10 each (assuming there’s a generic brand) = $50 x 4 = $200

Add those up and assuming you didn’t have to make an emergency visit to the ER and what’s your monthly total, just to maintain your condition? $1820- WITH INSURANCE! AND YOU’RE NOT WORKING FULL TIME!

And that’s just the physical and financial side. While I won’t go into the details of what kind of havoc it wreaks on you emotionally to always worry about getting pneumonia when someone else has a cold, or maintaining relationships when even if you wanted to get out of bed in the morning, you physically can’t. It’s hard. It’s impossible to deal with without a support system, and even with one it’s near impossible to cope with.

Listen, I know there’s a million good causes out there, and I’m not telling you not to support any of them. I’m just saying I can relate to this one and I hope this helped clarify what Jason and his mom and the rest of their family are going through.

If you’ve never had to deal with a chronic illness you may not really understand what it’s like. It can have a similar stigma to homelessness- well if they got a job, they could afford all these things. I’m here to tell you, you can’t. Even working full time, if you’re able to get your disease under control, it’s almost impossible to keep up. Insurance doesn’t fix it. It helps (you don’t even want to know how much the numbers above would skyrocket if you didn’t have insurance), but it doesn’t solve the problem.

I’m not sure I would have ever shared this with those of you who don’t already know had this not come up. I’m sorry, but maybe that’s further proof that this is something that is really hard to share and even harder to deal with.

If this helped give you even a little insight into what’s going on and why Jason created his site, I hope you help out. To get more information, support Jason’s cause, or make a donation, go to his site, http://savejasonsmom.org/.

How to Pack Like a Pro

I’d like to thank @VanessaSw for giving me the idea for this post. I’ve attended dozens upon dozens of conferences and used to have the same problem- how do you pack efficiently when you want to have options?

I’m the girl who once went on a three day cruise…with three suitcases! Granted at the time I felt totally justified filling one large rolling case with clothing, a smaller carry-on with shoes, and a small duffel bag filled with makeup, hair products, purses, accessories, and anything else I thought I might possibly want and/or need from home. I did not bring any gadgets other then my cell and digitial camera- and I still managed to pack a suitcase a day. When you’re sharing a standard cruise room with two roommates, there is just not enough space for such packing standards. It took me awhile, but I finally learned how to tone it down.

Tip #1- Don’t Start With Your Suitcase

If you start by putting all of your stuff in your suitcase, by the time you fill it, you realize that you don’t *really* need the formal evening gown you stuck in when you started, but it’s at the bottom so you might as well bring it.

Put the suitcase aside and lay out everything on your bed/desk/ floor/ whatever. Outfit by outfit so you can see each piece- then if you change your mind or realize you have 8 pairs of shoes for 1 dress, you can easily change your mind and put some stuff away.

Tip #2- Be Realistic

When I used to pack, I would throw everything in my suitcase I thought I might need on a trip. Usually my favorite everything would end up in my suitcase- including pillows and blankets. Do I really need them? Would there be any reason why a hotel wouldn’t provide such items? No! If you absolutely don’t want to sleep on a hotel’s stuff, first assess why you’re staying there in the first place, and second, bring the pillowcase and a top sheet, not the whole damn bed set.

Think about what is absolutely essential and go with that. If you’re going to steal the shower necessities the hotel gives you anyway, why not use them instead of bringing your Costco sized conditioner?

Tip #3- Pack Backwards

This is a really simple one and will help you from bringing everything but the kitchen sink. If you start with the last day of your trip and make that the first thing in your suitcase, you

A) Will be more likely to plan out what you need without throwing random items in a bag

B) Will be far more likely to see that pair of shoes 3 matches outfit 6 and skip packing yet another pair of shoes (which take up way too much room)- especially if you followed Tip #1

C) Won’t have to dig around your suitcase, making a mess, and having to re-pack everything and be late everywhere because you can’t find what you’re looking for. If I’ve done it (the shirt I want to wear is in here somewhere…rips everything out of suitcase and dumps on the floor), so have you. And for some reason, we all know the law of physics: whatever fit in the suitcase at the start of the trip will not all make it back in at the end. So do yourself a favor and do an evening/day wear, daily assessment. And stick to it when you get when you’re going!

Tip #4- Coordinate Yourself

You want to look your best on your trip, so you pack your best stuff. It doesn’t matter if it’s for business or pleasure, if you’re a girl, at least, you’re bringing your favorite outfits even if it means packing one extra, teeny-tiny little suitcase right?

Don’t do it! Most people tend to have one basic color tendency in their wardrobe- and it’s black. It might be brown, but let’s go with black in this case. If you find yourself packing 13 black dresses but you just have to wear the brown one- which means bringing an extra two pairs of shoes (heels to look good and flats when your feet hurt), accessories, purse, makeup kit…stop! Stick with one color combination. Trust me, no one else cares if you wore black 30 times in a row. They didn’t notice and if they did, who cares? 99% chance they did the same thing.

Tip #5- Focus on the Small Stuff

If you’re going on a three day conference, odds are you don’t need to bring five pairs of jeans (yes, I’ve done the one pair for Monday AM, one pair for Monday PM thing, too). Bring two. Yup, I said it, bring less pairs of jeans then there are days in the week. For several reasons:

A) You’re not supposed to wash your jeans every day, it fades the dye. Use this tip at your discretion as I’m not advising you to wear jeans with cranberry vodka stains on them.

B) If you’re dressing up at night, which you most likely are, you won’t be wearing jeans all the time. You also won’t be wearing them to sleep (I hope- not to say I haven’t done it before)- so it’s not necessary to bring them everywhere.

C) With the exception of some color differences and acid washes, all jeans look the same. So no one in their right mind (I’m calling you judgmental people out) is going to know or care if you wore the Seven for All Mankinds Monday AND Wednesday when you hop on a 7am flight.

Instead of bringing 12 different cardigans, 5 different pairs of jeans, and other bulky items, pack 2 sweaters- a black one and an X-colored one that will go with most, if not all, of what you brought. To ‘change up’ your look, bring accessories that take up far less room and are far easier to swap. And for !@$$%@# sake, pack enough underwear and socks/stockings. They take up no room and are way more essential then, say, your silver strappy whatever.

Tip #6- Make it Work

Did you ever think you could fit one more outfit in if only you could sit on the suitcase with four members of your family and your pet to help zip it shut? You know what’s a lot easier? Using the space you have.

Since you’ve already laid out everything in advance (somewhere other then your suitcase), and grouped it together by day into outfits, you realize that there’s some empty space in your shoes- put stuff in them. And, oh yeah, you brought a purse the size of a suitcase and except for your iPod and wallet (because even though we all have giant laptop cases, purses, carry-ons, we don’t really use the space), it’s pretty empty. Put stuff in there, too. Basically, use all the little side pockets, hidden zippers, and mesh organizers instead of employing an army to get your bag past airport security.

Tip #7- Reduce, Recycle, Reuse

Let’s say wearing the same jeans twice in a row grosses you out. However, you bring a black skirt to wear to ____ (the exhibit hall, meetings, touring Italy, whatever). You pack a dress for that same night- so now you have a skirt, a shirt, a dress, two pairs of shoes, accessories, blah blah blah…you see where this is going, right? Re-use the skirt. Recycle your outfit. Bring 1 different shirt that will coordinate with everything else you brought for that skirt- or vice versa. Use the same top and throw on a skirt instead of the jeans. Recycling items you wore earlier in the day reduces the amount of space in your suitcase.

Tip #8- Don’t Add More Just Because You Have More

This one is as easy as it gets. If you have 8 outfits for 8 days of travel, but your suitcase is only half full- STOP PACKING! Put the stilettos DOWN! If you’ve put everything you need- not want, but need- in your suitcase, you’re done. Don’t bring that extra sweater ‘just in case’. You have three already. You’re also equally likely to buy more crap you *need* when you’re gone. Or pick up all the free swag you can stand at the conference- and praying airport security doesn’t count your purse, laptop bag, and shopping bag as too many carry-ons because you’re sure, if you *really* had to, you’d be able to fit one into the other. Fingers crossed!

Side note: This never works, I’ve tried it, and have actually had to choose between going to buy another suitcase to check (hello, baggage fees) and throwing out some stuff. If it does work, you will be running late and will miss your flight trying to fight with the TSA over what qualifies as a ‘carry on’.

It sounds like a dramatic adjustment, but it’s really not that hard. Out of every 20 trips you take, how often can you say you used every single piece of clothing and jewelry in your bag?

If you’re smart enough to be getting sponsors for your blog, selling eBooks, and selling your consulting services, you clearly have the brains to know that your shoe collection isn’t what’s making you successful- it’s just one of the perks of being that successful- so pack accordingly.

Online Bachelor Auction

What is an online bachelor auction, you ask?

Have you ever been to one of those events in person? Single guys and ladies volunteer a few hours of their time to support a good cause. Their time gets auctioned off in the form of a date with the highest bidder. Not only do you get to have some fun meeting some new, very cool, charitable (and good looking) people, but you also are charitable (and hopefully cool and good looking).

If you’re still confused, watch this helpful volunteer video from my friends at eHow.com.

How can you get involved?

I’m looking for single guys (or girls)! If you tried looking for love online and in bars and it’s just not working out, why not try something new to support an excellent cause? If you have a friend who —- and —- about being single you want to help out, why not buy them a nice, shiny, sexy Valentine’s Day gift? If you want to support your friends for doing a good thing for the community, why not?

How is it done online?

Bachelors in several major cities are stepping up to be auctioned off. So far I’ve got a few in NY, Orlando, Miami, and LA. You can bid on your favorite in your city- unless you really want to make a vacation of it- and all the proceeds will go to AMGB – AffiliateMarketersGiveBack.com to help them with their fundraising for the 2011 Avon Walk for Breast Cancer.

You’ll submit your bids over a 2 week time period for the bachelors in your corresponding city. The highest bid wins the date (individual date plans to be announced).

If you want more information or would like to get involved, email charitybachelor -at-gmail-.com. Trust me, it’s going to be fun, so you’ll want to get involved!

SocialGood.TV Looking for Guest Hosts

I’m bringing SocialGood.TV back but I need your help. SocialGood.TV was created to highlight new, noteworthy volunteer opportunities across the country. The goal is to promote social activism and show the community how easy it is to get involved. While I intended on volunteering and posting once a week myself, some personal issues have limited my ability to do that. I still want to get the word out, though.

I’m looking for people to get involved within their community and video tape their volunteer experiences with the permission of the non-profit organization. I want you to walk me through a typical day of volunteering, whether it’s hammering out a home for Habitat for Humanity or getting signatures on a petition for homeless benefits.

If you’re currently a volunteer at a great non-profit you think could use more exposure, I want to talk to you.

If you’re thinking of getting more involved in charity work and are (or aren’t) sure how, I want to talk to you.

If you ARE a non-profit that has some rockstar volunteers willing to get the work out about your cause, I want to talk to you.

If you like to share your experiences with the general online viewing public and also fit one of the descriptions above, I DEFINITELY want to talk to you.

Shoot me an email at dinariccs-at-gmail.com or leave a comment here. Let’s talk.

Hire Me Monday

This is a new series dedicated to helping the unemployed find jobs. Each Monday I’ll post an interview with a talented professional who is seeking a job opportunity. The questions will include typical interview discussion as well as behavioral, thought-provoking questions.

With the thousands of resumes being sent in for one career posting, it can be hard to stand out. I’m hoping that by providing some additional insight on fantastic hires, it will help get the word out about their skill sets.

If you’re interested in being interviewed as a potential hire, please leave a comment below with the best method of contacting you. While those who are currently employed are welcome to apply, please note that it is solely up to you to take the risk of publicly posting your resume. I don’t want anyone to lose the job they have!

If you’re an HR or hiring manager looking for new talent, let me know as well. While I’m only posting one interview a week, I have quite a few talented friends both in and out of the online marketing industry who are looking for great opportunities. Only awesome need apply. If you’re looking for a virtual assistant for $3/ hour, this is not the site for you.

Coming soon (which means it’s not ready yet)HireMeMonday.com.

Can’t wait? Sign up for updates!

Weekend Link Love

Since most of you are hopefully out and about and not sitting around waiting for new blog posts to come through, I’ll share my favorite feel good stories of the week. I’ll also throw in some social awareness stuff in case you want to contribute your own good vibe.

FEEL GOOD STORIES

Southwest Airlines Pilot Holds Plane for Murder Victim’s Family

Panera Bread Foundation Opens Panera Cares Community Cafe

Dog Abandon In NYC Snowstorm Finds a Home

Grant To Turn Evans High Into Major Community Hub

Thanks to @Coop56 @GNNGoodNewsNow @SarcasticDoug @Alyssa_Milano @CHSHeather for sharing & @elliottdotorg @NYCScout @OrlandoSentinel for posting

SOCIAL AWARENESS

What It’s Like to Be A Homeless Mother

Recession Created An ‘Epidemic’ of Homeless Families

What Haiti Needs Most, One Year Post-Quake

The Pound For Pound Challenge: Losing Weight To Help Local Food Banks

Walk Across America For Troops

Thanks to @seanomore @RFBO @KimLutzke for sharing & @change @HikeAmerica @USAToday @OrlandoSentinel & Orlando Union Rescue Mission for posting


A Public Service Announcement About Astrological A—oles

Just because I like supporting good causes does not mean every post will be about them. That’s what SocialGood.TV is for. In this case, however, I do feel that while not an actual supported ’cause’, I’m still doing a public service by helping you all out here.

Allow me to be your digital ‘Dionne Warwick’ for just a minute. Here’s your horoscope:

The same things will continue happening to you, no matter what, if you don’t change. Not if your ‘sign’ changes, but Y-O-U.

The stars may have shifted, the calendars may have adjusted to incorporate a new sign (in case you’re in the dark about that somehow, refer here: Live Science ) but you are still you.

CRAZY RIGHT?! How can you still be you if you went from being an Aries to a Ohcrapicus or whatever you may ‘now’ be. Oops, I almost forgot, YOU HAVEN’T! You are still whatever sign you were yesterday and 20 years before that. Current astrological signs have not changed. Haven’t heard about that either? Click below:

CBS Article

Local Source – The Phoenix New Times

CNN Article

So what does it all mean?! It means keep doing what you were doing. If you didn’t like what you were doing, then do something else! The stars have not aligned to suddenly make you Shakira when you dance like Urkel and sing like William Hung (complete aside, how IS that guy making money singing?! I’m convinced the apocalypse is coming. New PSA to come? Nah, probably not.). Sorry to disappoint, but it’s true.

Don’t think I’m only giving you this advice, I’m also taking it to heart. Due to unfortunate circumstances that I’m 100% convinced my astrological sign had everything to do with (sarcasm), I’m stuck in Scottsdale. I’m not in Orlando, NY, LA, or anywhere else I previously lived or aimed to be. I’m here. In the desert. And I hate it. And I’ve been whining about it- a lot. And I’ve been using the word ‘and’ to begin sentences, despite what my grammar school teachers tried to tell me. I call it my rebellious Aquarius nature.

Sorry, back to task. The point is I DON’T want to be here and have no plans to stay here longer then I have to but right now I HAVE TO. So what am I going to do about it? I’m going to work on my blog, SocialGood.TV and my consulting work harder now than ever before. I’m taking what I’ve got and eventually, slowly but surely, making it what I want.

You! Over there reading/skimming this! Do the same thing! If you hate your situation, relationship, life, socialization skills, whatever- change them! It’s not going to happen overnight and you don’t need a 10 year plan or a motivational book to make the impact you want. If those things help you, great, but they’re not mandatory. TRUST ME! So ignore the ‘signs’ and listen to THE SIGNS! They’re out there and they’re saying ‘it may be a really terrible situation you’re in right now, BUT _____________’. Fill in the blank. NOW!

DO IT!

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