My Story

I’ve mentioned having a chronic illness before and have shared about it quite a bit. I don’t remember how I told my good friends that I had become ill with something that would change the rest of my life, but I do know I’ve never really gone over the entire story of what happened during that trip to North Carolina. This time I want to share more details about the very real nightmare I had about three years ago.

Here is my story.


The sun was shining down on my face and grazed my blonde summer highlights as I watched the waves crash onto the white sand beach. I approached the water cautiously, dipping my toes in and closing my eyes to fully experience the chilling sensation. It was only my second time surfing, but I was a fairly gifted athlete, so I was confident I would do as well as I had in California a few years prior. The instructor had been impressed with my performance, despite it being my first time. I was excited to give it a go again; the beach has always been my favorite place in the world and I felt at peace being back at my safe haven.

It was my last summer at home before I went out into the world to chase my dream of being a journalist. I had just graduated college and was bright eyed, bushy tailed, and a big bundle of nerves. There were so many things I didn’t have the answers to yet. I wanted to live in New York again, but it was so expensive. I wanted to be near my long-term boyfriend, but he didn’t seem to take my opinion into account as to where we could live.

None of that mattered today, though. I pushed everything to the back of my mind; today was all about me, my board, and the beach. I felt free — even if I had to go back to my normal life in a few days.

I shifted my gaze as the cold water pulsed over my painted toes, took a deep breath, and charged through the icy waves until I could get on my board and paddle. I glided through the water seamlessly until I was far enough behind the waves to turn around. The view of the beach from the ocean was peaceful and serene. I turned around to scout out my first wave. I saw the perfect ripple forming and paddled as fast as I could. I loved being in control of my body and the board beneath it. We sliced through the water together until it was time for me to go off on my own and stand up. The board remained faithfully beneath my feet, soaring across the wave. I hadn’t remembered smiling so wide in a long time. Anxiety seemed to plague my mind, as I was constantly nervous about my future. I was worn out and felt like I didn’t have any control over what was about to happen in my life.

The board shook beneath my feet and I crashed into the water.

I laughed as I wiped the salty water from my eyes and shook the sand from my hair. It was my first wave of the day; I wasn’t supposed to get that one anyway. I beamed as I flipped the board around and sprinted back into the roaring waves. They were just playing with me; they didn’t mean any harm. I tried and fell a few more times. This didn’t break my spirit, as I was happy that it was summer and that I could enjoy my time in the ocean. Something didn’t feel quite right, though. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but I realized I needed to take a break from surfing. I had caught a few waves and crashed on several more. Maybe I just needed to sit and hydrate. I rode a wave in and struck the ground one last time.

I drug my board to shore and plopped down on my pink and yellow starfish towel as I wiggled my hips to get the rest of the sand out of my suit. I took a sip of water and noticed the unfamiliar purple wounds on my legs — bruises from falling. I didn’t think much of it, with the exception of being a bit surprised that the marks took so quickly. I was breathing a little harder than usual. I had just run a half marathon a few weeks before; should I really be that tired from riding waves? Whatever, surfing is hard, I thought. I need to just give myself a break.

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I knew it was silly to wear a cute bikini under a wetsuit, but I was so excited to break in my new suit that day, haha.

I stayed out of the water the rest of the day and figured I would give it another go tomorrow. After all, we still had a few days left; there was no need to rush.


Little did I know this would be the last normal physical activity I would do for upwards of three years. Come back on Saturday to continue on this journey with me.

I’d Say It’s Fall Right Now

Have you ever heard that life comes at you in seasons?

This is comforting, as anytime you are stuck in a “winter” you know spring is right around the corner and that things will have to get better soon enough.

I was lying in bed last night feeling a little bit lonely. I was thinking about how nice it would be to have someone to snuggle up to and just fall asleep with.

Once I thought about it a little more, though, I realized the next few years (Or however long it will take me to date, and then get married to my future Mr. Right) are the only ones I’ll have left as a single lady. Even being exclusive with someone is completely different than being married. I’ve already decided that I don’t want to live with anyone until after my wedding, so I’ll essentially be living up to my “Single in The Suburbs” title until that day.

This is the only time I’ll get to spend every evening at home with my entire family and have my own room. This is kind of the beginning of the end of the first major stage of my life.

Thinking about my life in this way makes my loneliness subside and makes me want to appreciate every day I have left here. Don’t get me wrong; I’m still so incredibly excited for the day I realize I’m spending the rest of my life with someone, but I also cherish the present time I have with my friends and family. Right now I don’t have anyone I need to plan my schedule around, I can easily make plans with friends on a whim, and I can go to bed as early or as late as I want without worrying about another body in my bed.

Life isn’t about just making it through the more difficult seasons; it’s about learning from them and choosing to put on a coat and gloves when it’s winter and brave the cold to still get the most out of your days on this earth.

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Today’s lesson: Having chronic widespread pain has made it really difficult to see the bright side of things sometimes, especially when I’m having a particularly bad day. Even just looking at my little puppy and seeing how she depends on me makes me realize that I have a beautiful purpose for my life, though, and that hopefully one day I can use my pain and suffering to glorify God.

Fast Five: Pre-Date Jitters

I have been on my fair share of first dates now, and I’ve figured out some pretty good standard practices to make first dates go a lot smoother. Here are a few quick tips to take some of the jitters out of a first date:

  1. Have a few different “date” outfits picked out. For example, when I first started dating in the winter I had two first date outfits I would wear depending on my mood. The first was a gray V-neck sweater with leggings and black heeled ankle boots (Right, Robert?). The second was jeans, brown leather boots, and a ballet pink lacy t-shirt. By having specific clothing as my “go-to” date outfits I never had to worry at the last minute that I didn’t feel good in my clothes. If I feel edgy I’ll switch things around a bit, but it’s nice knowing that I have two killer go-to outfits.

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    Aaand summer calls for swapping out the sweater for a lacy tank! I also always paint my nails different colors — that’s my one beauty must-have.*
  2. Create a “dating playlist” to jam to on your way to the date. Even after dozens of first dates, you still sometimes get a little case of the butterflies before going out. By listening to feel-good songs you can dance around in your car and forget about any of the anticipated awkwardness.
  3. If you’re talking to a couple of people at once, go back and do a quick overview of the conversation you’ve had with your date. It’s obvious people usually have a few options, but is still kind of embarrassing when you mix someone up with another prospect. Something about meeting someone in person for the first time helps you remember details about them, but before that it can be easy to confuse one online date with another.
  4. I like looking over a menu before going to a restaurant if I am concerned about working around my food allergies (I have acquired many the last 2 years — what kind of 25-year-old doesn’t know they’re allergic to tomatoes and potatoes?!). That way I can relax and enjoy the date instead of take twenty minutes to customize an order.
  5. Remember to relax and have fun! The person you are out with agreed to go on a date with you, so there is something there. Even if you just have another notch in your dating belt after, you’ve also gained a new experience and collected another story to tell.

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Do you have any other ideas to make dating a little bit easier? I’d love to hear about it in the comments. 🙂


*Photo taken by my beautiful friend Audrey! Check her out if you are in the DMV and need a photographer for anything.

Feature Friday: In Sickness And In Health

This week’s feature is about my dear friends Danielle and Pat. They have been married for just over three years now and known each other since high school. For as long as I’ve known Pat and Danielle they’ve been a package deal. They have many of the same friends, love spending time with their extended family members, and even work for the same company. One thing I really love about their relationship is how they both look out for one another and take turns leaning on each other.

I asked Pat if he’d like to do a feature about his beautiful wife to surprise her, and he was quick to oblige. Talking to Pat about Danielle made me tear up when I saw the clear adoration he had for her. Here is their story about how special marriage can be and getting through hardships together once you’ve committed your life to someone.

Pat and Danielle got married in April, 2013. They had a beautiful outdoor wedding in the Virginia countryside with their closest friends and family, then honeymooned on a cruise ship and traveled to a handful of tropical islands to celebrate their marriage.

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Six short months after their wedding their fairytale came to a hard stop. Danielle woke up with intense chronic pain and after weeks of testing learned that she had something called fibromyalgia. Neither she nor Pat had heard of the illness, but he quickly began researching everything from different doctors to take her to and dietary changes that might help manage the pain. He kept his full-time job and took on a new one — fighting fibromyalgia with his wife. They made all of the lifestyle changes together to make things as easy on Danielle as they could possibly be in such a tough situation. They ate all of the same meals, worked out at the gym together, and went to her appointments hand in hand. He told me,

“Marriage isn’t about the husband and wife as individuals. Everything you do, you do together.”

Pat knew Danielle was in constant pain and felt helpless. He couldn’t do anything to fix the woman he loved and vowed to care for. He said that he would take all of the pain and exhaustion in a heartbeat if it meant Danielle would be better — this, friends, is the definition of selfless love.

“The most difficult part is not being able to do anything about her illness. There is no tangible ‘thing’ to go after and treat, as it is an illness diagnosed purely based on symptoms. It gets exhausting when you see doctor after doctor who are all blindly chasing after ten different symptoms and prescribing ten different kinds of medications which all have their fair share of side effects. You feel defeated. The fact that I can’t fix this for her is the hardest thing I’ve had to come to terms with.”

I was surprised to learn that fibromyalgia hasn’t really changed their relationship. Pat told me that the only major difference is that he has become more in tune with how Danielle is feeling and when she might have to take it a little easier one day. They also somtimes have to cancel plans on friends and can’t go out as much, but they’ve learned to adapt to this new lifestyle by enjoying one another’s company in the comfort of their own home. Thier favorite activities include snuggling with their Boxer Bentley, watching movies together, or relaxing outside by the lake. It isn’t a typical life of a twentysomething, but they are truly, genuinely happy together.

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“You’ll have to excuse my language, but Danielle in my mind is THE most badass woman I know. I don’t know anyone who can have their world turned upside down and make such a remarkable recovery. She is one of the most headstrong people I have ever met. Any time we found a new way fibromyalgia was trying to put a damper on our life plans, that woman would stick the proverbial middle finger to it and just truck along. As a husband watching your wife kick ass and take names is the most humbling and honoring experience. Whenever I have something go wrong in my life I look to her and remember how much work she has done and how far she has come — it reminds me to stay grounded. It reminds me that no matter how hard life gets or how hard you think your life is, in the end it really isn’t that bad.”

Anytime Pat talks about Danielle you can tell how much he loves her by the smile on his face. It makes me happy to know that these two wonderful people met each other, fell in love, and made their relationship work — through thick and thin.

I don’t think there is a word that exists to describe my feelings for my wife. She has been there for me and with me through my darkest of days and has been there through my brightest. She has corrected me when I was wrong, and accepted me when I was right. She is my best friend. She knows everything about me, and I her. We keep each other’s darkest secrets and share our greatest triumphs. This woman is the quintessential definition of a perfect wife, a perfect partner and a perfect friend. I never knew I could love someone as much as I love Danielle. I just hope that other people find the kind of love to where you sacrifice everything you are to your spouse.”

Dance To Your Own Beat

This past weekend one of my best friends and I went to a fair in our town. There were rides, games, food stands, bands, and perhaps the most exciting — a silent disco.

Since I have POTS I’m not able to go on rollercoasters or anything that will make my adrenaline and heart rate spike so much, and we weren’t very interested in the bands playing. We are always excited about dancing, though. For those of you who don’t know what a silent disco is, it’s pretty simple. Basically you check-in and get a pair of headphones with a volume control and 3 stations. There are 3 DJs located at the front of the club, each playing their own mix. You can change channels to find a song that you like, and your headphones light up with whatever color the DJ you are playing is wearing.

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One of the most hilarious parts of the silent disco was the crowd of people who showed up for it. It was for people 18+, and we were literally the only twentysomethings in the mix. It seemed to be mainly high school kids from the area dancing, but there was also a healthy mix of people in their 40s and 50s.

I quickly realized how much guys my age (25) have matured since they were 18. The kids were crazy! They were flailing their arms about like they were on fire and bumping into everyone on the dance floor. Their way of flirting with us was making fun of our music choices (Sorry that I enjoy hearing throwbacks from the Backstreet Boys and Britney) and attempting to “bump butts” with us. I started to feel old as I was annoyed with this behavior.

Overall the silent disco was a blast. We danced until my knees started to hurt too much to keep standing and vowed to do another one again before next year. Even just sitting on the side and watching everyone dancing to a different beat is hilariously entertaining.

Fast Five: Saying Hello

There are so many questions people ask me about dating or using apps that I decided to begin writing about the more popular ones.

Today I am going to focus on the twentysomething men and what not to do when reaching out to a female. These are a few things that I personally think guys should avoid doing on dating apps:

  1. Do not under any circumstance find a girl you see on a dating app on Facebook and “friend” her. This feels like such a violation of privacy and I will delete your request and swipe left on your profile. Be patient, sometimes we need a few days to respond. Which leads me to…
  2. Girls get a lot of messages on dating apps — like, dozens every day. Which means it can be difficult to respond to each and every one of them if you get buried in the mess. If a girl doesn’t reply to your message, politely send a follow-up and then move along to the next one.
  3. Don’t start conversations with just a short, “Hey.” It doesn’t give very much to respond to, and somehow doesn’t feel like you’re as interested as some of the other guys who craft more thoughtful openings.Screen Shot 2016-06-10 at 3.35.41 PM.png
  4. It isn’t a great idea to open a conversation with asking someone out for drinks that night right away. I prefer someone to get to know my personality a little bit better before going out, as I don’t like to be judged completely on my looks. It is also nice to plan at least a few days in advance — I don’t think many people are going to be free the same night you ask them to go out. I also have a reason I don’t think girls should accept an invitation like that, but I will give that in my next “tips” post.
  5. And finally, be respectful to people. I’ve been offered unappreciated “goods” on some of my accounts or called nasty names for not replying fast enough. Please try to remember that there is a person on the other end of the screen you are talking to, and that they deserve the same kind of respect you hope to be treated with. There are always a few bad seeds, but overall I believe most people are good.

Girls — do you all agree with these tips or am I mistaken about some of them?
Guys — have any of these techniques ever worked for you? I’d love for you to prove me wrong.


Shoot me a message on Facebook or write a comment on one of my posts to get your burning dating questions answered!