My favorite holiday is this week! I am so excited that we only have two days until Valentine’s Day, but I am well aware that a lot of people are either dreading the day or just not looking forward to it. Valentine’s Day has always been one of my favorite days of the year — despite being single for many of them. It’s great having a holiday that’s just meant to show how much you love the people in your life.
Here are an few fun ideas of things to do if you are single this Valentine’s Day:
1. Treat yourself to a massage. Couples massages are great, but you don’t need a date to have a relaxing day. If anything going alone just means you can take your time and enjoy the sauna and other amenities a spa has to offer before your treatment.
2. Binge watch a show and order delivery. This was one of my favorite things to do to relax when I was living on my own in New York. I loved watching Gossip Girl with a pizza from Joe’s and top it all off with a cupcake from Sprinkles. Now, there are a million different murder mysteries on Netflix,The Office and Parks and Rec both have great Valentine’s Day episodes, or there’s always The Hallmark Channel for hopeless romantics.
3. Splurge on expensive truffles. One of the best things I’ve gotten for Valentine’s Day was an enormous box of Godiva truffles. I used to think they were overpriced (And I mean, they totally are), but it’s worth it for a one-time thing.
4. Go dessert hopping by yourself or with a friend. Check out Yelp for the highest-rated places and taste a few things from each of them. Bring a box to keep the leftovers for the next day!
5. Deliver Valentines to your friends and family. Valentine’s Day has always been a day to celebrate the ladies in my life. My mom and I have always gone all-out for this pink and red holiday, and several of my friends like celebrating it with me, too! I usually celebrate a few different days to get all of my Galentines in, but it’s also a lot of fun to see friends’ faces when you deliver something on February 14th.
So whether or not you have a date this Thursday, make it a day to just love yourself and splurge a little. It’s always so much fun to have things to look forward to in life, and Valentine’s Day is a great excuse to just be excited about all of the love you have in your life. I hope you all have a fantastic day, and feel free to tell me what you’re going to be doing in the comments!
What do you think about my bridal bouquet? I chose a simple style with a nice amount of greenery because I wanted my dress to be the focal point of the photos.
Wedding planning is stressful, and there are a million different details that go into it. Things you wouldn’t think about like napkin colors and textures, what kind of “save the dates” you want to send out, party favors, and of course, what kind of flowers you want for each and every part of the day. You try to figure all of this out while sticking to a budget and it isn’t easy.
I was so lucky that my mom stumbled upon a company called Something Borrowed Blooms. They make bouquets and decor so easy, and are a whole lot cheaper than going to a florist. I chatted with one of the founders of the company, Lauren, about possibly doing a review in exchange for a deal on the flowers. Before I could agree to doing a partnership, though, I wanted to see the flowers in person to make sure I liked the quality for my wedding day. She happily sent me the bouquet from the Sophia collection I had been looking at, which gave me the peace of mind I needed to book all of my flowers with them. Although up close you could tell the flowers were not real, they still looked absolutely beautiful, and the pictures didn’t show that they were created with fine silk. I also learned from this test run that I did not like the scent they used in the bouquets, so I ordered mine without perfume.
We rented flowers for the chairs at the ceremony, and SBB makes it really easy to order in bulk by sorting everything into matching collections. You can mix and match some, however I really liked having a cohesive look for the day. I used the Olivia collection for almost everything, but there was one problem that arose when I placed my order. They were out of the Olivia bridal bouquet! To fix this problem, I ended up ordering The Olivia bridesmaid bouquet for myself (Which was a little smaller than the bridal bouquet, but still a good size), and got a different bridesmaid collection for my girls to hold. I chose The Charlotte collection for them, and it ended up working out great.
We also used Something Borrowed Blooms for every single centerpiece, and they looked absolutely beautiful. I love the pictures we have of our setup because it makes me remember the event so vividly.
These bouquets were well worth their price. For $20/centerpiece, we not only got the overflowing greenery and flowers, but the they came in beautiful silver vases as well. If we were to have done the same concept with real flowers, they would have been at least twice the price. It was so easy to take them out of the giant cardboard box they came in, and literally just set them on every guest’s table. All we had to do after the wedding was throw them back into the box and ship them back to the company. It couldn’t have been any easier, and we felt good about using something that was environmentally-friendly and wouldn’t be thrown out in just a couple of days.
Overall I would recommend these flowers to any bride who doesn’t have florals as their #1 priority. Most of us are more focused on the dress, the music, and the party, and these flowers made for the most beautiful finishing touches, but didn’t break the bank. They have enough styles to suit the majority of weddings, and phenomenal customer service in case you need help choosing a collection. Since there are so many different things to worry about when planning a wedding, SBB takes all of the organizing and guesswork out of florals and does the work for you. This company is absolutely a godsend and I couldn’t have been happier using them for our own special day.
I never realized how stressful football watching can be until I became a Patriots fan. My heart raced in the last half of the game against Kansas City yesterday. It’s not easy caring whether or not your team makes it to the next game, especially if it’s as important as the Super Bowl.
Becoming a football fan can be confusing, though. It’s not like the announcers explain things for us newbies, so I have to keep my trusty iPhone by my side for the questions I don’t feel like bothering Robert with. I wanted to share some of my new knowledge with you, so here are the questions I Googled during the game:
The first thing I looked up (after ordering wings, of course) was,
“Good thing to say during Kansas City and Patriots [game].”
I found a few things that contributed to our football-watching, and Robert was so into the game that he didn’t seem to notice that I had looked some stats up. Usually he catches me redhanded in a Google. Once the game started, I began getting into it. It’s nice being able to understand things like what a “first down” is and why the quarterback sometimes passes it and sometimes hands it off to someone (the running back, of course). I know, I know. I’m pretty cool for knowing a thing or two about football. That’s not the purpose of this blog post, though. I am going to open your eyes to a new part of the NFL. Here are some of the most important questions I now have the answers to:
“Can you grab an NFL player by the hair?”
The answer is yes, yes you can. Which led me to wonder why anyone would have hair that falls outside their helmet. They likely weren’t children on the playground with a ponytail to be grabbed during a vicious game of capture the flag or never snuggled up to a significant other to watch a movie, only to have their hair laid on and ripped out by the root. These two traumas are enough to make me cringe so hard when I think about the players’ scalp injuries throughout their career.
My next question was,
“What do football players keep in their fanny packs?”
I found the answer to the question of the century. Before I answer it, here were my guesses: Gatorade chewies, a towel to wipe off sweat, thirst-quencher gum (which definitely doesn’t work btw), and maybe a picture of a girlfriend or wife. I like to think the players are romantics too — more on this later.
None of my guesses were right… Not even close! I didn’t find a legit article on this because apparently everyone just knows what this part of the uniform is for, but my husband confirmed that Quora was correct and that they are actually not really meant to carry things. The “fanny packs” are actually just hand warmers. Very interesting.
The next question I Googled was my favorite because I found a gem of a GIF.
“Has an NFL player ever been ‘pantsed?'”
The reason I thought of this was because I kept seeing them grab each other by the jersey. Sometimes shirts would fly up a little, so I figured there must have been some point in time where a player just lost complete control of their uniform and found themselves exposed. Mr. Jackson, I am so sorry, but I have to share this picture with the world because it is just so darn funny. I couldn’t find any interviews about this incident, but I hope you had a good sense of humor about it too. Wardrobe malfunctions happen to the best of us, and I guess it’s just part of the risk of being an NFL player.
Then it was halftime and they had a bunch of commercials. One of my favorites was the one with the two NFL players who opened a cupcake franchise! They were freaking adorable, and I really want to order some cupcakes just to know they have the opportunity to bake them together for me. They looked like they were having so much fun, and despite knowing they will actually not be hand making the chocolate salted caramel and chocolate chip cookie dough cupcakes for me, at least I’m still supporting their sweet dream (And yes, Gigi’s Cupcakes does deliver. Order some here to celebrate Super Bowl Sunday).
Brian Orakpo and Michael Griffin’s adorable interaction prompted me to look up who were some best friend duos in the NFL. I saw a few cute relationships and took note of Tom Brady and Julian Edelman since they are on my team, but somehow during all of this Googling I decided to look up Stephen Gostkowski to see if he seemed like a nice guy. Actually, the reason I did was because I am still looking for someone to support by wearing their jersey, and I noticed he was a really good kicker. I liked that he had my favorite number — 3 — and I think the kickers are underrated. This guy dictates whether or not we get precious points, and he didn’t crack under pressure at all! I don’t often see this jersey floating around the DC area, which is why I think he is the one I want to represent every Sunday.
After reading some about Gostkowski’s career and finding out that he is a genuinely good guy, I clicked on his wife’s name to see what their story was. Reading about the player’s personal lives is one of my favorite things about sports, and people’s love lives is the top thing I like meddling in. Guys. They are adorable. It looks like they’ve been together forever and have a really solid relationship. I’m always really happy to see celebrities or athletes who seem to be grounded. I looked up “cutest NFL relationships,” and theirs is still one of my favorites.
My last thing I looked up was,
“The reason for black paint under eyes.”
There is a reason so many athletes wear black paint, but I don’t know if I really buy it. I kind of think it’s their way of feeling cool, but apparently it’s to help them see better. I still am not sure what exactly they use; is it face paint, a sticker, or a charcoal mask that really makes it a convenient dual purpose? It just seems like the kind of thing football players do to show that they belong to a club we can’t be a part of.
Well, joke’s on them, because I got some Blaq charcoal eye masks in my most recent FabFitFun box and not gonna lie, they totally make me seem tough.
Do you know any interesting football facts? Who are some of the nicest players in the league? I think it’s time to start writing articles about the important things in life, not just statistics. Wouldn’t that make the game even more interesting to watch?
Now that I have a house of my own, I’ve been trying to keep it clean and as junk-free as possible. I’ve been slowly getting rid of old clothes I haven’t worn in awhile, but it’s definitely a big process after moving all of my stuff in.
I got coffee with my sweet friend Melody yesterday, and she suggested doing something called the “30-Day Minimalism Game.” I was intrigued when she told me the very simple concept: get rid of one thing on the first day, two things on the second, three on the third, all the way up until you reach 30 days. By the end of the challenge — if you can actually complete it — you will have gotten rid of hundreds of things.
In all honesty I don’t think I can make it to day 30 because I really don’t think we have that much junk in our house, but I’m really curious to try and see how far I get. Go give my Instagram account a follow if you want ton see what I get rid of every day, and want a chance to take some of my stuff off my hands. I’ll be donating most of it to Purple Heart or The Salvation Army, but I’m always happy for a friend to get something they need, too!
Here’s to decluttering my house and making some extra room for the things I actually use and to breathe. Day 1: Finally throwing out my old Brooks tennies!
One of my resolutions this year is to read one book a month. It isn’t a lot, but it’s realistic, so any extra reads will be a great bonus. For January, I chose Girl, Wash Your Face. It was interesting timing because I recently saw a Facebook post in a group going around talking about how Rachel Hollis’ book, GWYF, was close-minded and uptight. I hadn’t read it at the time I saw the argument going on, but I was surprised that so many girls from this group of typically very accepting people had such hard feelings toward the author of GWYF, so I became increasingly curious as to what fired people up about this bestselling author.
My best friend Audrey gave me the audiobook for my birthday last month, and I’ve finally listened to more than half of it. I feel compelled to write about it now, though, because while listening I have had several moments where I want to throw my hands up and scream, “YES. THIS IS HOW I FEEL!” It’s such a joy to find novels, blogs, and television shows that just get you. In a world that feels so incredibly big, it’s always comforting to know there are other people who have things in common with you. Whether it’s your beliefs, sense of humor, hobbies, or interests, knowing that you aren’t alone is so important for every human being.
I am sick of the old narrative that says just because someone is living their life a different way than the majority, that they are a judgmental bigot. One of the biggest criticisms I saw floating around was that Hollis wasn’t relatable because her ideas about sex weren’t realistic. Spoiler alert: she waited to have sex until she was with her husband. Something that bothers me is that there is no place in the entertainment world for virgins or people who want to save sex for someone special. Hollis is in no way the names girls called her; she is just different than what the norm of the group posts about.
Just because Rachel held her virginity close to her own heart does not mean she is shaming others for having sex with multiple people. I absolutely hate that women can’t talk about this freely without being criticized for being close-minded or a prude. Women in this typically nonjudgmental group began talking about how the author seemed condescending and high-strung. Honestly, I can see how Girl Wash Your Face might not be relatable to everyone, but I didn’t get this vibe at all. There is a reason this book became a bestseller; there are so many women out there who can relate and feel a lot less alone while consuming Hollis’ words. There is a need for women to speak out about virginity and waiting to have sex because they exist too. Instead of continuing the narrative that these women are boring, uptight, and judgmental, we need to move to a safe middle ground of realizing that sexual preferences do not make a person or dictate what their personality is like. Sex is a verb, it isn’t an adjective that describes what a person is like at their core.
Hollis actually has an entire chapter about sex and I absolutely loved it. I don’t think anyone would actually keep calling her the names they’ve bestowed upon her after reading it, and her views on being intimate are actually really healthy. She talks about the way she views sex, and she isn’t boring or vanilla in the least. She writes about different seasons through her sex life with her husband and the realistic ebb and flow that most people will experience. This is just another opportunity Hollis takes to talk about something that could be difficult for some of her readers, and help them see that they are — in fact — normal human beings.
Women who choose to keep sex as something for a monogamous relationship or for marriage need to feel less alone too. We have moved to a time in society where we know that you’re not a bad person for sleeping with multiple people. We accept being sexually active as a societal norm, and as long as you’re a normal human being you don’t shame other people for their preferences. This should include the young people who are saving themselves for one person, though. There aren’t many positive examples of people like this in the media. You don’t watch a television show and see a badass virgin who has a likable personality and is someone others look up to. Talking about someone being a virgin in the media is typically not done, and if it is, it is portraying a young girl losing her virginity to “become an woman” or honing in on the storyline of a lack of sex for a nerdy character. You don’t see normal twenty-something virgins in movies or on television — in Hollywood, they don’t exist. In the real world, though, they do. They are normal people who just haven’t done the deed yet, and I think we need to do a better job of acknowledging that you aren’t broken if you haven’t had those experiences yet. Sex is a beautiful thing that shouldn’t be taboo to talk about, but it also should never be used to shame someone for their lack of experience either.
Imagine making fun of someone for running — or not. Picture judging their personality solely on being a runner, not based on anything else like how friendly they are, how kind they are, or how smart they are. Running an activity that people often enjoy or never participate in; it doesn’t dictate what they’re like as a person. Sex is the same concept. You don’t suddenly change drastically because you are sexually active; you just have a new activity in your life. Sex is fun, and an incredible way to connect with someone you love, but it isn’t something that will change the core of your being.
If you haven’t read GWYF yet, I highly recommend it. It’s a light read and Rachel is an awesome motivational speaker — it feels like she’s just a friend offering advice. I love her little words of wisdom on Instagram, and am obsessed with this quote she attributes to her therapist,
“Someone else’s opinion of you is none of your business.”
I think we can all learn a little lesson from this on fearlessly being ourselves. Many of our biggest fears stem from what other people think about us. This year I’m trying my best to put my blinders on and share my thoughts without worrying about the opinions of others. I think this is going to be the best way to really connect with people, even though I might also reach some people who just don’t understand my heart. Subscribe to my email list to get some extra premium content this year! I have a lot to say and am excited to be sharing more with you all.
Sigh, this season of The Bachelor is really going to be a drag. The ironic part this time around, though, is that despite Colton being a virgin, the biggest theme is going to be sex. How much do I care about Colton’s sex life? Not. At. All. I don’t care what he does or doesn’t do, and I certainly don’t need to be hearing about it over and over again. Something that bothers me about some of the conversation around Colton is that people are relieved to find that Colton isn’t weird — he just hasn’t found the “right person” yet. Some girls went into the season wondering what was wrong with him, and about a quarter of the introductions revolved around sex.
One point I am going to drill home in this, and a few upcoming blog posts, is that sex is a verb. It’s not an adjective you use to describe someone, and its presence or lack of is not going to drastically change someone’s personality. Sex is an action. It shouldn’t be a word that is used to completely define someone. ABC clearly disagrees, though. They’ve promoted him as “the first virgin bachelor” and have been hyping this entire season around the fact that Colton has yet to sleep with a woman. In the months leading up to the show they have made an ad based off of The 40-Year-Old Virgin, sent him on interviews where he has to explain over and over again why he hasn’t had sex yet, and have been using phrases like, “what does he have to lose?” constantly referring to his v-card. It honestly feels like The Bachelor franchise has just completely been exploiting Colton for his [lack of] sexuality. He poses in next to nothing, then is filmed showering and rubbing himself all over while the camera slowly and awkwardly pans from his face to his waist. He excitedly says that yes, he might lose his virginity to one of these girls, and that he had been ready to give it to Becca Kufrin, but his time just hasn’t come yet.
It bothers me that Colton has been completely playing up the virgin thing with the network and is still going along with it as his primary storyline. At some point wouldn’t you get fed up with the narrative and just scream at the producers, “Yes, I am a virgin, but let’s move on from that! I also love dogs, football, The Chargers, and hiking.” There are six billion other things they could be talking about, yet every other scene involves yet another crack at Colton or Chris Harrison asking if he feels like “less of a man” for being a virgin. Like, what the hell?! Imagine if he asked one of the bachelorettes that. We would all be up in arms saying that her sex life does not define her worth as a human being. Rude, Harrison.
I’m predicting that this is going to be one of the lowest-rated seasons of The Bachelor. I really really hope I’m wrong, because I don’t want to be wasting every Monday night for the next 13 weeks, but unless they can find another topic to discuss, they’ve lost me entirely. I already can’t take it anymore and we’ve only had one episode. If this season goes as I think it will, ABCwill need to reevaluate how they choose a lead next season if they want to gain a larger fanbase. Instead of choosing someone based on one thing, they will need to find people who are dynamic and have depth, then bring that out on camera. We love watching people with big personalities find love, and I’m not really for this whole cheering for a man to lose his virginity narrative. It feels incredibly creepy, invasive, and frankly, just downright boring. Here’s to hopefully learning more about Colton’s personality next week, and in the meantime enjoying some of the drama that is bound to ensue with twenty women living in the same house, dating the same guy.
Love is difficult enough on its own, but when you add our little black screens to the mix, things become just that much more complicated. First, let’s talk casually dating. There are a million different apps and websites you can use to meet people. Making a choice — or three — of what you want to use can dictate the kind of people you will meet. There is a dating app for everyone, whether you are looking for a farmer, a fellow vegetarian, or someone who loves Disney just as much as you do. This is great because it takes searching high and low out of the equation and sets you up with a partner who has at least some of the same interests that you do. Even using the more standard dating websites makes finding a partner a little easier because there are usually questions to answer that calculate what percent of a match you are with someone, which saves the smalltalk and goes straight for some of the biggest deal breakers like religion, smoking, or even what kind of family someone wants.
The dating culture now is different than it ever has been before because we have endless options. It is so easy to go out with a person, see a flaw you don’t like, and think, “Well, on to the next one!” when you have access to thousands of profiles online. Odds are there’s someone who fits the bill of exactly what you want, right? The problem with this rationale is that there is no such thing as a perfect person. We live in a time where if something is broken, we don’t fix it — we just get rid of it and upgrade. It isn’t worth the effort of learning how to jump over a hurdle or adapt to a new way of using something; it is far easier to just throw away a broken object than it is to put the time and effort into making ours work again. The same goes in the dating world. Far too often, as soon as someone learns about an issue, they decide to move on to find a different person without said problem. This turns into a vicious cycle in embarking on the search for perfection which, in this world, does not exist.
Now let’s touch on solid relationships. The little black box certainly doesn’t make finding a partner easy, but once you’ve gotten one they work their little plastic butts off to make everything a little more complicated, despite their initial intention of making life easier for us. Instead of reaching to hold their partners in the morning, people reach for their phones. Rather than sitting together at the dinner table they sit on the couch in front of a television. Hours upon hours each week are spent on Facebook and scrolling mindlessly through Instagram. This whole new age of technology has greatly changed the course of our lives — for better and for worse.
At the end of the day, despite what it sometimes seems, we own technology — it does not own us. We can make our own decisions on how to use it to better our lives and enrich our relationships instead of harming them. I like using my little silver laptop to type words onto a screen and share them on here with you all. I like playing Super Smash Bros and Fortnite with my husband, and I like that I can shop no matter how I’m feeling and that there are people who will drive to my house with a piping hot pizza if I use my phone to order one. Technology is great as long as you know when to use it and how to continue to connect with your loved ones in person. This is why I harp so much on the importance of quality time spent with loved ones, rather than just time. It can be so easy to think you are pouring into others when you spend so much time with them, but if that time isn’t spent wisely it won’t really make an impact on their heart.
I still haven’t finished making my resolutions for the year, but one of them is that I am going to be more cognizant of how often I am using my phone and to put it away more when I am with my loved ones. I am going to invest more time in journaling and having heart-to-heart conversations, and be more productive about reaching my goals for this year. What are your resolutions for 2019?
I rarely go out for NYE anymore, but it’s still one of my favorite holidays. I love words and symbolism, so the idea of having a clean slate is such a beautiful thing filled with possibilities. This is my favorite idiom on January 1st, and I take resolutions pretty seriously.
The past few years I’ve been choosing a “word of the year” that I try to keep as the foundation of the decisions I make. 2016 was “perseverance.” It was the year of the deployment and involved a whole lot of patience, sleepless nights, and pushing through the really hard parts. Something I remember so well about this year was running away from my thoughts at the gym. I often rode the recumbent bike and pushed harder and harder to try to escape from the difficult parts of life. As I’ve grown up I’ve found my coping mechanisms for hardship involve either working out, or doing my hair and makeup for no reason other than to feel like I have control over something when I can’t do anything about certain things life throws my way. I have a hard time dealing when people do things that hurt me, and I begin to feel claustrophobic when I know there’s nothing I can do about the way others behave or the fact that my health is declining despite working hard to feel good. Finding things I can control when it feels like things are spiraling has been so helpful to my heart.
I skipped 2017 because I felt too busy and excited for Robert’s homecoming. I wrote all about trying to get Tom Brady to come greet him at the airport, then about what our reunion was actually like. It happened to be perfect, even without the greatest quarterback there with us. We started a normal life together this year, and I focused on being in the present a lot. This past year was supposed to be “Fearless,” but as I’ve said a few times before I failed miserably at this word for 2018. I didn’t leave my comfort zone enough, and I gave up on a lot of my writing because I felt scared of sharing my intimate thoughts with the Internet. One of the reasons Single in The Suburbsreally took off in the beginning was because I was able to candidly talk about my life without much of a filter or fear of being judged. I loved being open about the dating world with everyone because I realized that my dating life was just as uncomfortable, frustrating, and fun as every other twenty-somethings. I embraced the awkwardness, shared my weirdest stories, and ultimately tried to help other people realize they weren’t alone in anything. We all were having a hard time trying to find love and meeting someone who really understood our heart.
My problem now is that I don’t always feel as relatable anymore. I feel like nobody understands the pain that I have (Even though I know they do, and so many have been through so much more), I am more guarded and protective of my relationships, and I am afraid of the shadows of strangers that lurk on the Internet. Instead of feeling like I have a nice space where I can share without being judged, I feel like there are so many people who are cruel to others for having a different opinion, and “different” is a word that seems to define me. I can’t always relate to normal twenty-something’s lives, but I rarely find myself feeling insecure about being different. I was raised to love and be kind to everyone — whether or not they are similar to me — and I don’t understand the culture that accepts being cruel as a way to show disagreement. The Internet is plagued with trolls and people who get a kick out of tearing others down, which makes sharing any sort of opinion frightening.
This year I asked my Instagram friends to help me choose a word. We were either going to focus on “Joy,” or try “Fearless” one last time. The vote fluctuated from leaning heavily on “fearless,” to giving “joy” the lead later in the day. They switched back and forth a few times, and I liked that people seemed interested in both words, but ultimately I landed on FEARLESS for my word of 2019. I chose it for a few different reasons. First, I think it’s more difficult for me. Joy is something that comes more naturally with my personality, and although it’s been more of a struggle through times of hardship, I am always going to try to be joyful — regardless of the circumstances in life I cannot control. It doesn’t matter whether it’s 2019 or a decade later, I don’t see that changing about me. I like a challenge and being fearless this year certainly is going to be just that. I don’t want to lose the part of my heart that makes me kind, but I need to get my edge back that makes me more resilient to other humans.
Finally, I got some words of wisdom from a friend that if I live fearlessly, joy will come along with that. This was exactly what I needed to hear to pull the trigger and choose 2019 as the year of living fearlessly. I want this to impact several parts of my life. I am going to start writing on here more about things that matter to me — even in the areas where I feel like I’m different than the majority. I am going to face my fear of rejection in more than one area of my life, and I am going to pace myself for the dreams I want to chase. Finally, I’m going to teach myself that I am more valuable than what my body can and can’t do. One of my biggest fears since getting sick with POTS has been whether or not I could still be a valuable part of the world, even when I feel like I’m at my worst. Exploring what makes me special is a surprisingly scary thing because what I used to really value and love about myself was different before I got sick. I had very different goals and things I wanted to do in my life, but my trajectory drastically changed five summers ago. This is going to be a year where I take care of myself and learn how to be brave, even when it’s hard. 2019, get ready to be fearless.
The more I’ve loved, been loved, and felt broken, the more I’ve learned about the five different love languages and how important they really are. I’ve always known I’m an in-between and don’t have a primary LL, but over the years I’ve noticed that I need at least a pinch of each to make my love tank feel full. The more love that comes in and warms my heart, the more love I feel like I have to give away.
I need words of affirmation to feel like I mean something to other people. Whether it’s telling me that the words on this site matter or that my company is a joy, words of affirmation are currently tied for the lead of what I need coming into my heart. They’re also headlining what I strive to give every day. I’ve always been a big fan of pen and paper, and I write notes for even the newest of friends. I don’t think there will ever be a time in my life where I don’t write to those I love, and if there is, please come find me to make sure I’m okay.
At our wedding, I decided to write each and every one of my girl friends a letter telling them how much they mean to me and how happy I was they could share that day with me. It took hours of work to finish the pile of notes you see at the top of this picture, but every single one of the girls who came to support us means the world to me, and I wanted to remind them that. I wrote most of my notes well ahead of time — before I even knew what color I wanted our bridesmaid dresses to be, what vendor we’d use for flowers, or what flavor we wanted our cake to be. As with several other things I had imagined, I didn’t actually have the time to put these around at all the tables the day of the wedding, so I’m still slowly handing out the notes, but this was one of the top things I was excited about while planning our wedding.
Physical touch has also been an important part of my life, and having a hand to hold or body to hug is really vital for my heart to feel cared for. It is tied as my most important love language right now. I don’t talk very much about my pain with even my closest friends and family, but I’ve felt like I’ve needed more hugs lately. Something about someone giving you a squeeze makes the world feel like it’s going to be alright, even when you feel like nobody could possibly understand how you feel. For just a moment I forget about anything that is hurting or bothering me and remember how much love I have in my life.
Gift giving used to be my top LL. Even as a kid I loved going to the store to buy presents for birthday parties, Christmas, and even small “just because” gifts with my allowance. I think I learned this language of love from my mom because she was so great at leaving little notes and stuffed animals on my pillow or under the covers for me to find when I crawled into bed at night. This practice carried on into college, which was where I reached far and wide to friends for birthdays and almost every single holiday in an attempt to make people around me feel special and cared for. I spent hours shopping for goody bags to make every Valentine’s Day because I wanted other people to love the holiday as much as I did, even if they were single like I often was. I bought chocolates, cards, nail polish, giant bags of pink and red confetti hearts, and topped the presents off with a mix CD made special for each friend. It’s funny to this day how many people tell me they remember my goofy little playlists. Gift giving is something I find really fun and I think most people feel pretty loved when they get a present that was chosen just for them. It isn’t about the thing, rather it’s the fact that someone spent the time and energy to think about you and do something about it that makes this LL special.
We have two more love languages left. Quality time, and acts of service.
Quality time will always be important to me, but I’ve learned just how necessary the beautiful, magical adjective “quality” is. Time, though a really valuable thing to give someone, is only special if it’s attentive and caring. Electronics make it worlds more difficult to get quality time, and a lot easier to give the excuse that you’ve filled this part of the tank in a friend, family member, or partner. I feel tired a lot and am guilty of plopping down on the couch, only to turn on a repeat episode of Friends or the newest Judge Judy case. Although that time can be spent bonding and laughing over the silliness that ensues, it only fills the “quality time tank” so much. The amount this fills for me lingers around the 15% line, because with a big black box in front of my face, there is only so much I am going to learn and connect with someone else.
Quality time is perhaps the most difficult of the love languages to manage because it does depend heavily on the activity and how present each person is with one another. To one — perhaps with physical touch as the highest of the love languages — snuggling up on the couch and catching a game might be something that really fills up their tank. To another person, however, with words of affirmation being important, talking has to be a larger part of the time spent together to actually be quality enough to fill the tank. Hallmark Christmas movies make me feel more connected to another person than anything else on television because I tend to talk through them and bond over how many errors the producers missed or storylines that don’t make sense.
Finally, acts of service. I tend to write about this love language last, because I understand it the least. This is arguably one of the most practical languages that I absolutely need, but it just doesn’t fill me up the way the other four do. It doesn’t give me a warm and fuzzy feeling or make my heart leap from my ribcage the way everything else seems to. I need this love language desperately, though, to keep my health maintained and feeling good. Mentally I notice all of the acts of service that are performed for me every day and I feel thankful for them, but they don’t offer the same powerful effect that a hug, love letter, or tasty dessert brought from my favorite bakery do. It registers to me that this is love, but it doesn’t fill my heart the way other languages do.
I encourage my friends and family to keep learning about their love languages, as well as their partner’s, family’s, and friends’. I talk about them so much on here because I truly believe knowing more about the five love languages is a fantastic base of any relationship, and they can drastically change how loved a person feels. It really is interesting how all of the languages work together and how much easier it is to love someone when you truly understand them. The most complicated thing about relationships is that none of us are the exact same, and we all need different things to make us feel content and secure at the end of the day. People are dynamic and what they need might change as they grow, so loving someone is a never-ending task. Love is the most worthwhile thing in the world, though, and means so much more when you’ve worked to make it more special.
Do you have any book suggestions for me to read? I’m always plugging The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman, so it would be great to hear what y’all enjoy too!
My pain has been really bad lately. I can tell I’m really not feeling well when my nails look like crap — I love having painted fingers and toes, and always do them myself — and I begin forgetting things. Yesterday I had to turn around and drive home because I could’t remember if I shut the door — not locked it, but shut it — I fed Jax a second breakfast, and I can’t remember the third thing I forgot… It will come to me by the time I finish this.
I have decided that our next election I am going to really, really pay attention to healthcare and making it a top priority in how I vote. I’ve changed around insurance plans and being without physical therapy for the rest of the year sucks. The thing that frustrates the hell out of me is that I am in pain and trying to fix the problem by doing something that is good for me. I haven’t gone on medication to manage my POTS (Though I do think some people can absolutely not do without it and need to do anything that helps them have any semblance of a normal life), and I work hard to try to be as pain-free as possible. There are a few things that frustrate me. First, insurance doesn’t cover as much PT as I need in a year. I really have to figure it all out way in advance and go without it for periods of time to make ends meet. At some point my pain is going to go from a managed 3-5 with physical therapy to an 8-9 range without it*. Working out and getting hands-on work done is a key part of having me feel better than I do now. I never feel normal, but my pain is at least being managed. Second, PT is harder to get than medication and that makes absolutely no freaking sense to me. If there is a way to actually manage things without taking six different prescriptions I want to do it. Part of the complication of having a chronic illness is looking at your own symptoms versus what side effects medications will have on you, then picking the lesser of the two evils. You also have to weigh the pros and cons of being on something long-term. It makes absolutely no sense to me why doctors are able to prescribe something that I have to consume that will only temporarily put a bandaid over the problem, rather than trying to chip away at all the issues I have with the natural way of physical therapy. I am very dependent on going in for my visits, as I get terribly stiff and have a lot of pain when I miss more than a session, but I feel like I am making progress in a few small ways at a time. When I can’t go I start deteriorating and taking several steps backwards, even with the programs I do on my bedroom floor and at the gym down the street. I hate being dependent on anything, but having a chronic illness has really been humbling.
I feel like I have more freedom when I am feeling better because I do. I can do more when I feel better, and even at my very best I’m not at a normal 28-year-old level. When I talk to all of my grandparents on the phone, I feel like we relate more than friends my own age when it comes to how we feel. We are all in pain in one way or another, and can’t do as much as we used to be able to. I am scared of getting older and having the normal wear and tear of aging, but maybe they’ll have a cure for POTS by then. I don’t think about that often because it doesn’t do me any good to worry about the future, and I continue to focus on making myself get stronger and managing my symptoms on a day-to-day basis. I figure I’ll just worry about problems as they come to me and try my best to be healthy and prevent anything from deteriorating further.
Finally, I am frustrated because by asking to go to physical therapy I am not asking to do something excitingly fun. Sure my PT’s are all so incredibly nice and fun people I would totally be friends with outside the clinic (Shoutout to, Melissa, Hilary, and Jackie for being the absolute best!), but it’s work and it often hurts a lot when I have to get poked at while I am in pain. The benefits are feeling astronomically better, though, while I am going on a regular basis. So, my third and final annoyance is the fact that I can’t go to get help to have a shot at having even remotely close to a normal life. My quality of life when I am in pain is not good. I constantly feel like I need to throw up from the pain, but don’t. My usual level with treatment is a consistent “I just went on a long run” kind of pain, with a few sharp and gnawing pains here and there, but what I’ve been having lately is several times worse than that and blaring a lot louder. I often find myself having a hard time focusing on what people say to me because I can’t seem to get past thinking about the coat hanger pain that consumes me. I can never drive for more than about fifteen minutes at a time without feeling some sort of pain, but now driving makes me want to cry because of how much it hurts to be behind the wheel. I’m back to having a hard time figuring out how to be productive and what I can do every day because everything hurts.
I still don’t remember what I forgot before, but maybe once I can get taken care of my brain can start focusing on normal little tasks instead of honing in on how much it hurts to do anything. Speaking of which, I can’t sit at this computer any longer or my shoulders won’t feel okay in time for Christmas. I’m going to go spend some quality time with my foam roller and hopefully be able to get some sleep tonight!
*I think this was obvious, but for anyone who doesn’t know, pain is often measured in a scale from 1-10 in the medical world because it’s a little easier to articulate how you are feeling that way.