Man, I’m tired. I am having more pain tonight because I’m a huge goof and haven’t taken care of myself the past few days. I’ve been wrapped up in trying to get work done (Have I mentioned on here I have been working from home? I started it in October and it’s been really great) and been slacking on my mobility work. My neck hurts, my shoulders hurt, and the muscles between each of my ribs hurt.
I got POTS over 6 years ago, which means I’ve had chronic pain for most of that time. It’s gotten better and better the more I’ve worked on it and gone to physical therapy, but it’s still freaking weird knowing that if I’m a 2 or a 3 on the pain scale, that one day it will likely spike, even if for a short period of time. I don’t really know what causes all of my flare-ups, but I feel frustrated when I cause them by neglecting taking care of myself. It annoys me that I have to focus on my health so much while still in my 20s, so sometimes I do rebel and take a few days off. I always regret it, but sometimes I just need a break.
One thing always makes me so so happy, though, and that’s dogs! Here are some of my favorite dog pictures from this month. Hopefully they’ll make you smile as much as they do for me.
Here’s my handsome little man at the P-A-R-K.
I took this picture of Macy right before leaving the house. She was all snuggled up and happy in her PJs, and I always think of her as being my little angel.
This picture of Jax isn’t by any means “good,” but it cracks me up because I pulled out a bag of pretzels at 2 in the morning a few weeks ago when I wasn’t feeling well. It was hilarious seeing how quick he was to lunge onto the bed to steal some of my snack. He had been sound asleep on the floor until then.
Luckily, Jax usually sleeps in bed with me when I’m alone. Here is another favorite photo at bedtime. I typically have to shove him to the side a few times in the middle of the night because he likes to hog absolutely everything.
And here’s a throwback gem to my sweet little angel, Gracie. These pictures all make me so happy. :’)
I haven’t wanted to write very much lately, but at the same time I’ve been writing more for myself than I have in months. So much has been going on lately and I’ve written six different blog posts that I didn’t feel were very good, or were far too personal to share. This is number seven, and I’m going to post the draft when my fingers are done playing on the keyboard.
I dyed my hair brown this weekend. Well, actually, my best friend who is the most talented hairstylist on planet earth dyed my hair for me, but my point being, I went from having a 29 year streak of being a blonde to turning into a brunette for the winter. I just needed a change and it was a semi-permanent hairstyle versus a very permanent tiny tattoo on my wrist, so the hair won by a landslide.
Sometimes when I feel like life is getting away from me and I can’t control things that are happening, I will find little things I can do that offer choices. I love doing my makeup when I feel anxious, or going out and meeting new people. I love learning, cooking, or honing in on a new skill to keep my mind busy.
This year I have a lot on my plate. Some things are exciting, others are not so great, but 2020 is definitely setting itself up to be a whirlwind. I thought a lot about choosing a word for the year. The past 2 years I had the same word — “fearless.” The year before that I chose “strong.” It didn’t look like I chose a word in 2016, but if I were to have picked one at the end of 2015 for that year it would have been something along the lines of “giddy,” “bright,” or “beautiful,” because that was the year I really fell in love.
Maybe it’s because it’s my time of the month right now, but I’m feeling pretty nostalgic, so I am turning back the hands of time by reading some of the old blog posts I stumbled upon. Writing is a cool thing because you see just how much you change over time. I’ve kept journals ever since I could write. I have dozens of books filled with incredibly boring entry after entry like,
“Went to school today, then got BBQ chips and a Slurpee at 7-11 after. Great day!”
“Went to Nicole’s birthday party and they gave me a hamster to keep! I’m not good at holding him, though, because his feet tickle my hands too much.”
These journals are some of the most boring reading material of all time, but they make me smile because I remember a lot of the feelings I had behind the entries. I highly recommend writing down things that are on your heart, because in the words of Andy Bernard, “I wish there was a way to know you’re in the good old days before you’ve actually left them.”
We spend so much freaking time wasting our lives worrying or putting off loving others because we are too busy with the unimportant details. Life is so short, and my biggest fear has always been not having enough time to show people how valuable they are, how loved they are, and how big of an impact they make on the world just by being here. I truly think that there are so many people in the world who feel confused or lonely, and I wish we could all just come together and realize how not-alone we really are.
Back to Andy Bernard, though. I am quite certain the good old days haven’t come and left for me, but the sentiment I like behind the statement is that you need to enjoy every single moment of life, because you never know when that chapter of the book will close for you, and everything left is just a memory.
Some of my old blog posts make me cry. I get to go back and read about the third date I went on with my now-husband. I can read about funny moments we had together and remember the way he looked when I knew he was falling for me. I can read about how free I felt getting over a breakup, how much my family and friends mean to me, and all the really silly things I’ve done just to make other people laugh. I can still remember the pain of deployment without having to read about it, but my body feels numb when I read about pulling to the side of the road to catch my breath after seeing a blue F-150 on the road on a particularly difficult day.
This year I want my word to be “present.” I struggle with anxiety, so this is not an easy word to choose, but I want to learn how to appreciate little things in the moments where I feel like I can’t breathe because my mind is a million miles away worrying about something else. I want to give the best parts of myself to the people I love, and I want to give myself the best version of me. This is going to be a year of finally learning the things I’ve been dying to do, it’s going to be the year of reading books that make me a more dynamic person, and I’m going to try my absolute best to enjoy even the littlest things in life instead of letting the little things get me down.
Thanks to my writing I will always be able to pull up a little visual of what it was like falling in love, and remind myself that you can never appreciate a moment too much because one day it will just be a memory. This year I want to have stories that are worth remembering, but even more than that I want to have beautiful feelings to write about — whether or not that will be on here.
2019 really got away from me. New Year’s Eve feels like it was forever ago, but I kind of can’t believe it’s about to be a new decade.
This year has been crazy and filled with lots of new adjustments, but I haven’t felt like writing about much of it on here. My journals are filled, though, so one day maybe some stories will eventually make the cut. I have a very boring one today, so it’s unfortunate I don’t post on here more often, but I’ll do a very exciting (and kind of funny) Trader Joe’s post on Tuesday to make up for it.
I went to the dentist recently and he told me my teeth looked beautiful and were cavity-free. Great! We did see, though, that my teeth are shifting. Apparently that can happen over a decade after getting your braces off? Since I was about 14 when I got those suckers taken off, I didn’t really consider that at 29 years old I would be revisiting how to straighten teeth. Apparently this is a common problem for people my age since they weren’t doing a lot of the permanent retainers until a little more recently…? I digress.
I went home and jammed my retainers in, per the dentist’s recommendation, and they still kind of fit. The lower one is more comfortable, which is shocking because those are the teeth that look a liiiiitle more shifty. The truth is, I was always great at wearing my retainers until I got sick with POTS. Ask any of my college roommates — I had a lisp every night when I went to bed because I wanted to take great care of the expensive smile I had received as an all-too-unappreciated middle school graduation gift. POTS makes me very dehydrated, which made it very difficult to wear retainers that made my mouth feel even more dry. I stopped wearing them regularly, and I kept letting it slide for six long years.
The point of this post isn’t to bore everyone to death — though I’m really sorry if you’re already there. It’s to make the very important point that some New Year’s resolutions should be habits that you plan on forming and keeping as healthy lifestyle changes. This year I am going to create very realistic, doable resolutions that I want to carry through the next decade. I started with a vague, “I want to start doing yoga,” to making the resolution that I will work out 3 times a week, whatever that looks like. I’m already 1 workout down for this week from a Pilates class I took at home this evening.
Another resolution was going to be, “blog twice a week,” kind of like the 2019 resolution I broke. Instead, I am making myself write every single day, but in whatever form I’d like. Whether it’s writing even just a sentence or two in my journal or doing a long essay on here, I want to keep my creative juices flowing and keep recording my memories. I tend to write either when I’m really happy about something or upset in one way or another. I would like for my writing to reflect more of my everyday life, which is probably more of just boring old contentment.
I have a million other things I’d like to do this year, but I’m keeping my resolutions simple and realistic. I am still formulating my realistic goal for “eating better,” but I’m going to figure something practical out that will still make it easy to enjoy life while being a healthier version of myself. Maybe I’ll sub a few salads into my weekly meal routine or cut back on processed foods for special occasions only. I’ll figure it out.
The new year always feels like such a beautifully fresh slate, but I don’t want this year to be like my Planet Fitness membership and only get used at the beginning of the year when I’m excited about all the new promise it offers. I want to keep my goals, continue to find new adventures to go on, and create a healthy lifestyle, rather than have an enormous bucket list of things I’ll forget about come March. That way, instead of waking up one morning with shifty teeth, I’ll have settled into good habits that keep my body and mind sharp for the long run.
Happy New Year everyone, and I can’t wait to hear about all the other goals and ideas people have for the new decade!
I started my first consistent normal-ish job and am working from home now! I’m doing editing and publishing for a PR company. It’s been really fun, but has also kept me busy, and I still only have a certain amount of time I can spend on a computer without my elbows or neck beginning to hurt. I am making leaps and bounds of progress, though, and am so freaking happy about that! It’s sometimes funny to think about, but I honestly think I’m more thankful for my body now that still is not working the way it should be, than I ever was for my body pre-POTS. Before I got sick I played just about every sport, could run 6 miles no problem, and a half marathon with just a little bit of soreness after. I had a seemingly endless supply of energy and would wake up early, go to bed late, and made time for work and play almost every day. Looking back I don’t know how I didn’t realize how lucky I was. This is just how life works sometimes, though.
I never in a million years thought writing would ever be difficult. Mentally, yes, but physically I should have been able to write for decades before anything became remotely difficult. I have a hard time finding outlets for my feelings sometimes since running has been off the table, and even writing things down can be painful sometimes.
Anyway, I haven’t been able to write for fun very much lately, but there’s not a lot I’ve wanted to share. I’ve become much more private with my life in the past year or two; maybe I’ll explain why one day, but I’m not ready to right now. In the meantime, I am going to get back to my Trader Joe’s Tuesday posts because I have a very deep love for that grocery store. I’ve loved being a stay-at-home dog mom, and think I’ve become a very good cook this year. I figure I share my recipes with my closest friends each week; why not write about it a little too?!
I hope you all had a very nice fall. I’m not doing a very good job coming up with words right now, so I’ll save all of us some time and keep this post short. Have a great Thanksgiving if we don’t talk before then. ❤
I woke up this morning in a sweat. My heart was racing as I jolted awake from some sort of nightmare. I immediately started thinking about things that make me nervous about the future, and how the heck I’m going to get through it all. My stomach dropped deep down into my abdomen as my heart leapt straight through my chest. Apparently you sometimes can’t even escape anxiety in your dreams.
Anxiety is a cousin of depression. They’re close in the sense they both can be based on fear and uncertainty, but they give two very different feelings. Depression is hollow and dark. It feels like a rainy day in a swamp, with fog as far as the eye can see. You know it’s a wide open space, but you can’t muster up the energy to move around freely. You are curled up in a ball, only vaguely noticing that there is a world around you. I think often with depression, the person in the middle of the fog can really only see a few feet around them and can’t tell that there is light and beauty outside the dark swamp. In fact, there are still beautiful flowers and little glimmers of light while you are there, but they can be difficult to see if you give up and stay curled in your little ball. Rays of light come in the form of good friends, puppies, working out, and helping others. There is always a reason to keep fighting, but everyone understands if you need to take a break for awhile. It is exhausting when you feel like you’re alone and don’t know how to pull yourself up off the ground.
Anxiety paints a different picture. Instead of being a more introverted feeling, anxiety is the craziest extrovert you’ve ever seen. It is wild and red, and hot to the touch. Anxiety makes you feel claustrophobic in your own body, and creates a strong desire to run away from yourself. With depression, you would rather be able to get back in to your own body and figure out how to find yourself again. Anxiety makes you want to forget everything there is about you and run away to create a new life. You want to turn your brain off to stop thinking about anything and everything and find a way to sleep again, but you can’t take a vacation from your thoughts. Both depression and anxiety can create a pit in your stomach, but they’ve often settled there for entirely different reasons.
I have tiptoed along the line of depression sometimes, but I think having some down days is part of the human experience, so it’s very different than it was being in the darkness I have only been in once before. Anxiety is a much more familiar feeling I let sneak into my heart. It starts by catching the door with its foot, then shoves its way in guns blazing. “You’re not good enough,” “You won’t be able to handle the future,” and, “You can’t do the thing” are all lies anxiety screams as loudly as it can. It makes up elaborate and unlikely stories of what your future is going to look like, but speaks them with confidence and as truth. It’s a lot easier said than done to choose not to believe the lies, as a simple, “just don’t worry about it,” or, “calm down” won’t ease an anxious person’s heart. It is possible to find peace, but takes a lot of swallowing your own pride, accepting help from others, and being gentle with yourself.
Anxiety and depression are both so prevalent in today’s world. I don’t know if the age of social media has caused a rise in mental health issues or we’re just more open about them now, but I’d say more people than not have had a taste of these feelings, even if they haven’t been officially diagnosed with anything. I think we underestimate how not-alone we are in the world and how similar our feelings are to one another.
Talking about anxiety makes me anxious. I still think people are quick to judge, label, and make assumptions about people they don’t know. Despite genuinely believing most people have a good headspace about talking about mental health, I know there is still ignorance and confusion in this space of the world. I know that therapy is still stigmatized, and that people don’t always love and support things they don’t understand. So many people, though, who you would never guess are fighting difficult battles by themselves. Sometimes the most beautiful, smiley rays of sunshine have a darkness that is clouding their heart, and I am so thankful that celebrities and people in the limelight who have platforms are speaking up about their struggles more. Emma Stone, Ryan Reynolds, Mindy Kaling, and Stephen Colbert are all people who live to make others laugh, but struggle with anxiety. Jim Carey, Owen Wilson, Ellen DeGeneres, and Sarah Silverman have all been very open about dealing with depression. It isn’t just comedians who struggle with mental health, though. There is an enormous list of people who range from athletes to astronauts who have been affected by depression or anxiety. Even Abraham Lincoln is thought to have had severe depression and anxiety; they just didn’t have a word for it then.
My purpose in writing this is because I think it’s so important that we realize we are never alone in our thoughts or feelings. People need to be taught from a young age that it’s okay for everything to not be okay sometimes. People should realize that we all have battles we’re fighting, that we can share our struggles with our loved ones, and most of all, to be kind to everyone we meet. I am not “Instafamous,” do not have a large group of followers, or a particularly captivating life to share about, but I want to open my heart to the people who do read this in hopes it makes someone feel less alone. I see you, and care about you. We need you here, and you are important. Please don’t ever forget that.
Alright, so I still have not done a pumpkin post, not because I haven’t been to Trader Joe’s lately, but because there honestly isn’t as much pumpkin stuff as I remembered in the past. Sure there are a few sauces and baking mixes, but I remember years before having a million pumpkin things I was excited to try. One of these weeks I’ll muster up the energy to find five pumpkin things I’d like to try, but until then we’re going to do a few of my favorite fall items.
1. Envy Apples Envy apples are freaking amazing. Like, they’re the best apples you’ll ever eat. They’re super crispy and taste like a more tart version of their cousin, the Gala apple. Trader Joe’s is kind of cool too because they charge you by the fruit, not by the pound, so you can just pick out the best apple of the bunch and feel like you’re getting a great deal.
2. Cinnamon Bun Spread Have you ever smelled a candle and wished you could eat it? If candle eating resonates with you, this jar of cinnamon might just be your thing. The texture is almost like melted wax and if I could waft the scent around my home, it would smell like fall potpourri. I’ve read quite a bit about this cinnamon bun spread before, but never tried it until a couple of days ago. When I was at TJ’s contemplating this purchase, I saw that the first ingredient is honey, which I’m all for. I wasn’t the biggest fan, but I’m kind of glad I got it and I have a feeling I’ll crave this spread anytime I light a fall candle in my home. It should last me the entire season. Who knows, maybe I’ll come up with a better way of eating it than on the back of a shortbread cookie!
3. Organic Strawberries
Fall isn’t necessarily known to be strawberry picking season, which is why I was pleasantly surprised when I smelled how fresh the strawberries were from over a foot away. These ended up being so good that I ate the entire box in two sittings — and already went back for another bundle I’ve almost finished.
4. Mini Peanut Butter Cups
Halloween is coming up, which means it’s time to break out the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. Except these are even better. I sometimes get a stomachache from eating too many, so be careful how many you let yourself have because they’re addicting!
5. Pumpkin Dog Treats I think it was a real missed opportunity not calling these Pupkin Treats, but it is what it is. Jax and Macy both love these dog treats that are made with real pumpkin. As I was writing this I thought about how I was going to tell you that they smell just like a human pumpkin snack, and it dawned on me that I might be able to take a bite and tell you whether or not it tasted like one, too. I went to check the ingredients and here’s what I found:
Okay, I know what wheat is and despite being gluten-free, a little won’t kill me. Pumpkin is fine, so is cane molasses. So far so good! Typical Trader Joe’s, making dog treats something good enough for humans to eat. Bravo. Canola oil is another check next to “human ingredient,” and so is ground cinnamon. I don’t know what citric acid is, but I’ve also seen it on my own nutrition labels before. What in the world is “Mixed Tocopherols?!” My laptop is recognizing it as a word, but I certainly don’t. First possibly scary ingredient, but I’m assuming it’s a pretty typical preservative (which, in anyone’s defense, can be scary in human foods too). Lastly, Rosemary extract. Something I am familiar with. Well, I guess I gotta go for it then! For the sake of the blog.
I took a bite on my Instagram story earlier and it was totally gross. Despite smelling like a biscotti I would be happy to dip in my coffee, it tasted like crunchy, wheat flavored cardboard. I have no idea why Jax and Macy love these so much, but I see why in my 28 years on earth I’ve never had the desire to try a dog treat. I could have gone my whole life without making this weird decision.
Anyway, I know I posted a little late today, but I hope you find something new to try next time you’re at Trader Joe’s. Please don’t let my poor review of dog treats and candle flavored cinnamon goo deter you from trying something new or getting a treat for your pup while you’re out. I promise they’ll like it!
I’m in so much freaking pain right now I don’t know if I want to throw up or cry. Preferably both would probably make me feel better. I don’t feel like this nearly as often as I used to, as my health is improving, but it still feels like it’s going to last forever. I can’t focus on anything else and just want the day to be over so I can have a clean start with refreshed muscles.
I always try to figure out why I’m in more pain than usual so it won’t happen again. Often, there isn’t a big cause — it’s just maybe the weather (I SWEAR I get bad headaches more often on rainy days) or the fact that I was standing too long in a day my POTS was acting up. There are other times, though, that I know I’ll feel bad the next day. Taking an airplane or sitting down for long periods of time, being much more active than usual, or staying out late are all things that can cause pain. Writing causes pain for me. I wrote a lot today. I didn’t focus on my ergonomics the way I should have. That might be a big reason I’m at an 8 and want to cry now.*
Some people might take this as a sign from God that writing may not be their thing. After all, my hands become stiff and my pain creeps up my arms and shoulders the longer I’m writing at a computer, so the writing does quite literally hurt me. It isn’t comfortable the way it used to be, and you’d think if it was my calling I wouldn’t have to take breaks to pace myself so much. Writers can sit down at a computer and churn out words for hours on end without taking so much as a bathroom break. This thought has crept into my mind before. Why can’t I do what I love and what my heart desires most as a full-time job? Why did my trajectory change so drastically? Is it because it isn’t my destiny to be a writer and I should look for something else to dig in deeply?
I am reading a book right now that talks a little about “signs” and Christianity. It talks about how sometimes things that happen are not as monumental as we want them to be — they’re just little blips in the grand scheme of things. Not everything in the world is a sign from God, even though He is always here with us. My pain that is linked to writing is not a sign from God that I need to stop. I know I am supposed to be here in this little space of the Internet, and it isn’t some big selfish desire my heart has. It’s just a deep-rooted yearning I have to connect with others, share my stories, and help each of us feel less alone in the world. The chronic pain I’ve dealt with might just be yet another way to connect with people, but it isn’t a sign that I need to stop writing. Sometimes people wait too much to try to listen to what God wants them to do, rather than just strapping on their boots and trying. I think we sometimes underestimate God and don’t realize that if we’re going in the totally wrong direction, He can find ways to pull us back on track. The most important thing is to get up, and go for what we think can change the world. If we’re wrong — which people often are — we can keep trying until we get things right. After all, that’s an enormous part of what it is to be human, right? Learning from our experiences and making ourselves better from them.
Hopefully tomorrow I’ll be feeling all better. Like I said, I was a little alarmed to feel this bad because I’ve had so many good days lately. I am grateful for that, and I hope to continue getting better and better.
*Those of you in the chronic illness community know we often rate our pain on a scale from 1-10, 1 being pain-free, to 10 being unbearable. It gives doctors a better way of seeing improvement and knowing how bad — or not — it really is.