Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Walgreens Helps You Stay Healthy During Flu Season!

The weather's turning colder, and school is back in session. I don't know what this means for your family, but I know for mine it is often the kickoff of the sniffles and cough season. It seems like everywhere I look someone is sick, and my youngest has already started bringing home various stomach viruses that her classmates have been so kind to share with her.

This is also the time of year when my family gets our flu shots. As an RN, I've seen how sick the flu can make people. Sure, if you're an adult in good health, you're unlikely to die or suffer serious side effects from the flu, but individuals in poor health and children aren't always so lucky. I am healthy, but I don't want to risk passing the flu on to my children, or to someone else I happen to meet, so I gladly roll up my sleeve each year for that little shot.

Walgreens has made it easier than ever to get a flu shot. Many of their locations are fully stocked and have healthcare professionals trained to give out the shot, often with no wait. While getting a flu shot isn't a hardship for my family, not everyone can afford this sometimes lifesaving vaccine, which is why Walgreens and The Motherhood is asking us to spread good health with their "Random Acts of Wellness" campaign.

I was given 5 gift cards, each good for a free flu shot, to distribute to those in need, and I took this challenge very seriously. Here are a few of the stories of those I gave a card to:

  • One of my recipients was a man I know with emphysema. He has smoked for most of his life, and now in his late 50's is suffering the effects of that. The good news is he did quit smoking a few years ago; the bad news is that some of the damage to his lungs is permanent. Staying healthy is a must for him, as the flu could easily land him in the hospital in a life-threatening situation. His flu shot will help him to stay healthy and stay at work through this season.

  • One gift card went to a woman I work with who is pregnant. The CDC has recommended flu shots for all women in their second and third trimesters of pregnancy, as the flu could cause complications with the pregnancy. Her baby is due in November and I wanted to make sure that not only is she protected, but that the baby she and her husband are so looking forward to is protected as well.

  • Another woman I know has two children, one of whom has a health condition that leaves him susceptible to any virus that comes along. What might be a sniffle for us could be a hospitalization for him, and the flu could be deadly. She works hard, but makes very little money and while she gets help in providing her children with health insurance, she has none. A flu shot for her is vital to her child's health, and I was happy to ensure that money would not stand in the way of her getting her shot as soon as possible.

Having the chance to provide the gift of health to others has been such an amazing and rewarding experience. But it doesn't stop there - I have another 5 flu shot gift cards from Walgreens to give away to 5 lucky readers! Use it for yourself, use it for someone in your family, or create your own random act of wellness and give it to someone in need.

To enter, leave a comment below sharing the "acts of wellness" your family participates in during flu season. How do you keep your family healthy? What steps do you take to avoid illness? Comments will be accepted until Tuesday, October 5 at 11:59pm ET, one entry per person, US households only. Please be sure to leave your e-mail address so I can contact you if you win.

5 winners will be selected at random after the closing date and will be notified by e-mail. Winners have 2 days to respond or a new winner will be selected.

The best tips shared by all of you will also be gathered to create a Walgreens "Acts of Wellness During Flu Season" tips list and I'll feature my favorite tips in a follow-up post here as well.

Good luck, and stay healthy this winter! For more information on the Walgreens flu shot program, you can visit their website or their Facebook page.

Full disclosure: I was provided with five flu shot gift cards to hand out as part of the "Random Acts of Wellness" campaign with Walgreens and The Motherhood, as well as 5 gift cards to give away on this site. I was also provided with a stipend for my time involved with this project. All opinions shared here are 100% my own, and yes, I am an RN, but before you ask me for medical advice I will refer you to your doctor.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Leaving My Comfort Zone

I've been blogging for nearly five years now. Which, you know, in blog years is about forty years, meaning I'm right at the perfect age for a mid-life blog crisis. Only with this type of crisis, you don't go out and buy a sports car. Nope, instead you choose to go to a different social media conference.

I've attended BlogHer since 2006, and for the past two years I've also attended Blissdom. Both are blogging conferences for women, and in the past there has been a strong leaning towards mom bloggers. I've learned a lot from these conferences, and will continue to attend them, but coming home from BlogHer last month, I felt like I was missing something.

There's no doubt that social media conferences with a female-focus are important and have a lot of merit, but I can't stay in my estrogen-cocoon forever. I need to branch out, see what else is out there in the blog world, and even - gasp! - interact with more of the male social media population and see what I can learn from them as well. I have a "mom blog" and this review blog, but I'm also developing a fitness blog and who knows where I'll go from there?

I'll admit that I'm nervous of stepping outside of my usual circle. I always worry about being taken seriously, and it's hard to get the nerve up to approach big name bloggers when you're just a small fry. But hey, if it can advance my blogging, or help me develop a new direction for myself, I'll gladly walk up to anyone and say hello.

So next month I'm conquering my fear of flying yet again to attend BlogWorld Expo with the hopes of finding new inspiration and new influence from an entirely new population of social media participants. As an RN, I'm especially interested in the social health track on Thursday, as I've been considering doing more health blogging but worry about issues regarding privacy and liability.

BlogWorld looks like a fantastic event, but at the moment I only have a pass for Thursday. I'm hoping that IZEA will select me to receive a free pass for the remainder of the event so I can get the most out of the panels and parties and bring what I learn back to my own blogging circle, many of which have never attended any conferences, or have only been to female-centered conferences.

Besides, I want to disprove that whole idea that "What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas," because we all know that in the world of social media, what happens in Vegas will be photographed, videotaped, and written about for the whole world to see.

 I'm not above wearing McDonald's bags for hats, either!

IZEA, please pick me to receive a free full conference pass to BlogWorld! I've got the flight, I've got the hotel - all I need is the full conference pass! I won't let you down!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Oregon Chai: The Perfect Drink for Me Time

Here in Ohio, the weather has started to turn ever-so-slightly crisp. The morning and evening air is cool and dry, while afternoons are still warm and sunny. But this shift has me excited, because I love nothing more than wrapping up in cozy sweaters, drinking warm drinks and enjoying all of the beauty of fall.

Although coffee is always my go-to for staying awake, my drink of preference is always tea, specifically chai tea. Chai is a sort of spiced black tea that often has milk added for a creamy texture. You can drink it hot or cold, depending on your preference or time of the year. Personally, a hot mug of chai tea is the ultimate comfort drink for me.

I recently received a "Time for Me Wellness Kit" from Oregon Chai that contained a canister of The Original Chai mix, a mug, USB-powered mug warmer, and an acrylic double-walled reusable iced tea cup with straw. (Oh yeah, and a mood ring! I haven't seen one of those since the 80's.) I've already used much of the chai mix, which isn't a surprise because I was already a fan of Oregon Chai and their many chai variations: vanilla, green-tea, caffeine-free, vegan, and sugar-free.

You can buy Oregon Chai in either a concentrated liquid form, or in a dry mix form, including their new 10 oz. mix canister. Either way, you can control how strong you want your chai to be, adding more or less than the recommended amount to create the perfect drink for you. All Oregon Chai drinks are also all-natural and the mixes are preservative-free.

Want Some For Yourself?

Oregon Chai has generously provided two gift packs for me to give away so you can enhance your "me time" as well. One reader will receive a 10 oz chai mix canister and mug, and another reader will receive a 10 oz chai mix canister and an acrylic double-walled reusable iced tea cup!

To enter, just leave a comment below telling me your favorite way to spend "me time" along with your e-mail address so I can contact you if you're a winner. You can enter until Monday, September 20, 2010 at 11:59pm eastern time. One entry per person. Open to US residents only. Two winners will be selected using Should either winner not respond within two days of being contacted, another winner will be selected.

Full disclosure: I received the kit mentioned above from Oregon Chai to help facilitate my review. No further compensation was provided. All opinions are 100% my own.