Wear Your Retainers and Other Advice for the Next Decade

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.

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Jax was initially very concerned with the fact that I was lying down on the ground, but eventually realized he didn’t need to keep monitoring me so closely.
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So then he fell asleep, but stayed close in case I needed anything. Such an angel.

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!

Strong (adj.)

Today I would like to dissect what it means to be “strong.”

This has been a word used to describe me by so many people since I graduated college, got POTS, and went through a number of difficult trials, but it still feels kind of funny when I hear someone throw this adjective next to my name.

Dictionary.com defines strong as,

“Mentally powerful or vigorous,”

but it doesn’t offer any tips on how to be strong or what kind of trials make you strong.

I was made strong. I didn’t choose to be strong and I am in no way admirably resilient. Before getting sick I was used to a fairly comfortable life, and never in a million years thought of myself as tough or someone who would face trials well.

Almost 4 years later, though, and here I am. I had a choice to make when I got sick. I could take what the doctors said, admit defeat, and recognize that my life would never be the same, or I could fight for the best life I could possibly have. I quickly chose the latter. This involves keeping an open and optimistic mindset, being incredibly dilligent with my doctors appointments, physical therapy, and diet, and finally — learning how to rest.

When I first got my diagnoses I asked through tears whether I’d ever get better. The nurse laughed and told me I wouldn’t and my mind immediately went into a dark abyss, thinking about a long life of dizzy spells, fainting, and feeling miserable. I was incredibly lucky to have my incredibly encouraging mother with me, who followed me to the parking lot and said the nurse didn’t know what she was talking about. She said I needed to take each day as it came to me, and think positive thoughts. To this day I believe this is one reason I am slowly getting better and have been able to make peace with my new life.

I’ve had POTS for three-and-a-half years now and haven’t had a week off from going to visit some sort of doctor. I typically have 2 physical therapy appointments and either acupuncture or a massage to work on managing my chronic pain, as well as regular visits to my cardiologist, neurologist, and endocrinologist. I go to the gym 5 days a week — even when I am feeling awful — because the worst possible thing for a POTSie to do is get deconditioned. This involves a short 30 minute recumbent bike ride, as I could easily faint if I am in an upright position. I get B12 shots every other week since I am deficient in it and B12 seems to be a link to chronic pain. Then I have to take a lot of time to rest so that my body can settle down a bit. I get worn out incredibly easy, and a trip to the grocery store turns into a long ordeal because of the recovery time afterward.

Lots of POTS patient develop adult allergies, so I can’t eat many of my favorite foods anymore. I have given up nightshade vegetables (Potatoes are my favorite food and I miss French fries dearly!), gluten (Now I am the butt of so many jokes), and I really limit my dairy and sugar intake. I don’t drink coffee at all, partly because I can’t have caffeine, and partly because I just can’t have coffee, period, and I don’t drink alcohol at all anymore. The coffee is definitely a million times more difficult.

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Lastly, I have had to learn to listen to my body and rest. This is such a hard thing for me to do, as my mind is incredibly active. Anyone who knew me before I got sick knows I love to work and play, so sleeping and rest were never really a big part of my vocabulary. I joke to my friends that I’m just catching up on all the time I missed in my life before, but it really is a difficult thing for me to wrap my mind around. I always have a million and one things I want to do and write about, however my body isn’t very kind to me. Writing hurts after ten minutes, and the dictation software I have used is grueling. I can’t sit at a desk chair very long without having a lot of pain in my shoulders, and some days I can’t stand without feeling dizzy. Sometimes all I can do is rest, and I’ve learned that it’s okay to spend time listening to podcasts and watching HGTV when I really can’t do anything else. Yes, I would much rather be working and making a living for myself. I wish I could live in New York and write for a magazine, I wish I could have a paycheck to save for a new car or fun wardrobe, but that’s just not in the cards for me right now. Right now it’s my job to focus on getting better, keep taking care of myself, and trust that God will make something beautiful out of my struggle. 

The best advice I could possibly give anyone going through something tough is to take each day as it comes to you. Worrying about things in the future that you cannot control won’t help you change them, and looking back on the past won’t make your present any more satisfying. I know what it’s like to feel helpless and I know what it’s like to feel like life isn’t fair. The greatest feeling when your world is crumbling in on you is when you finally learn to give your problems to God and let Him take care of the things that are outside your control.

Today’s lesson: If I can be strong, you can too. I’ve always thought I am an incredibly average person in most regards, which should offer an incredible amount of encouragement to anyone reading this. If I can do, so can you.

So Casually Cruel

“All Too Well” is one of my favorite Taylor songs. When I was preparing for a bad breakup I listened to this song on repeat. There are so many lines I could dissect that reminded me of my relationship with my ex. We had been through so much together and I felt like he was getting ready to throw all of that away.

“Back before you lost the one real thing you’ve ever known” is a line that spoke to me. A guy I dated once told me all of his secrets and said I was the closest person in his life. I played the role of a lover and a best friend for him, as he did for me. He told me I was his forever and always and that I was his rock.

Then he broke up with me.

He hadn’t found someone else or fallen out of love with me. He just realized I was no longer a priority in his life. Love was no longer a priority. He now lived for a career and a newfound dream for status.

My heart broke. First for myself, but when the dust finally cleared I realized it was broken for him. What kind of life is it to have your heart beat only for yourself? To not have relationships that move you to your core?

I realized I would have those — I already had them with my close friends and family — and prayed for his sake that he would realize what would truly make him happy in life. I still hope he’s happy, it’s just not my job to help him along that journey anymore.

Today’s lesson: Everyone has different priorities in life. One thing isn’t necessarily better than another, but you should find someone who is on the same page as you in that regard.

 

Leaving On A Beautiful Note

Sometimes dating is just about collecting moments with people who won’t last.

One of the most romantic things a date has done for me was learning how to play one of my favorite songs for me on the guitar. He knew I am kind of obsessed with Taylor, and took the time to learn how to play Wildest Dreams for me. I was really touched when he broke out the guitar and serenaded me with a beautiful acoustic version of the song, and slightly off key vocals to accompany it.

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In the next few weeks of dating he learned All Too Well and Style, as those are two of my other favorites. He later told me he learned Thomas Rhett’s Die A Happy Man for me, as that was one of the only artists we both enjoyed.

I’m not going to lie, serenading a girl is one of the most attractive things a guy can do. Part of it is just knowing they took the time to learn something new for you, but something is also beautiful about someone letting you into the world of what they are passionate about. Whether or not you play the guitar you should totally learn one song to play for your bae.

This particular gentleman ended up being very different than the person I had him pegged for, so we broke it off a few weeks into dating, but this is a fond memory I will keep of the time we spent together.

Today’s lesson: Use your unique talents to show people you care about them! Whether it’s through singing and music, cooking, or — if you’re like me — writing, time is a special present you can give someone.

Everything I Ever Wanted

I’m absolutely amazed at the way my heart has been feeling. As soon as I got out of my last relationship I was excited to take time to myself and then eventually find someone in the area who I could see as often as I’d like. I wasn’t going to be in a long distance relationship anymore, and I would be able to experience what it was like having someone I loved in the same area as me.

Life doesn’t always work out the way you think it will.

Today I teared up because I miss someone in another country. I fell in love far sooner than I would have “liked,” and never in a million years thought I could feel this way about another person.

This long distance has been different than my last relationship, though. He is so perfectly attentive and I don’t feel like we are emotionally apart, even though we can’t see each other or even talk as much as I would like. I miss our dates and playing games together. I miss people-watching and I miss him goofing off to make me laugh.

I think of him every time I see an F-150, and I listen to Brad Paisley in the car now. I carry a piece of his heart everywhere I go, and I feel proud of him when I see an American flag waving in the wind.

I’m focusing on myself and am fully working towards my own personal goals, but I cannot help but be excited for December. I feel like a teenager again with a countdown on my phone and a name scribbled throughout my journal.

This is love in its sweetest form.

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Today’s lesson: Sometimes love is having all the feelings all at once. Your heart feels like it’s about to burst, but in the best way you could ever imagine.

He Was A Runner

The crisp weather signifying the end of winter reminds me of him.

The fall before I got sick we trained for my half marathon together. We would run for hours or meet at the campus dining hall after a long run. He encouraged me and pushed me to do better. If it hadn’t been for his love of the sport I’m not sure that I would have found my new love of distance running.

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It was a way to quiet my mind and enjoy the peace that nature had to offer. Nothing could touch me as I ran for hours.

Little did I know this would be one of the last times we ran together. Later I would find myself chasing someone who didn’t want to be caught — he couldn’t be caught. His heart belonged to himself and didn’t have room for another.

Chasing someone is exhausting, especially after you do it long enough. You can be the strongest person in the world, but you will eventually become emotionally drained.

Find someone you don’t have to chase. Be with someone who wants to hold your hand and walk through life with you. Someone who will stop to smell the roses and enjoy the beautiful scenery life has to offer.

Let him run alone if that’s what makes his heart beat fast. I will be with the man who’s heart races for me instead.

 

 

That’s Not Really My Style

I’ve never been the “cool girl.” People have considered me funny, or sweet, or thoughtful, but never cool. That’s never been a big priority to me, and my personality definitely isn’t someone who can just be “one of the guys.” I hate beer, I don’t know a lot about professional sports teams (Should I have said “Pro Sports” instead?), I feel uncomfortable when guys curse a lot around me, and I’m a bit too delicate to be really roughhoused with.

Soon after my breakup I got a message from a guy I’ve always thought was kind of cool. I had a crush on him back in undergrad, but I was too young — and at the time not confident enough — for a guy like him to really notice me. He had always been kind, but never interested. Back then I figured it was because he dated girls who were much “cooler” than me. He was probably into some of the other athletes and people who could keep up with him better than I could. After all, I liked playing sports and working out on a regular basis, but was no super-athlete. I was a little nerdy and loved spending my free time writing and playing Super Smash Brothers or board games with my friends (I guess some things never change!).

Anyway, I was more than a little taken off guard when I heard from him years later. I hadn’t thought of him in such a long time that I didn’t quite know what to think. We ended up meeting up and he was more handsome than I remembered. I was excited to find that I could, in fact, have mini butterflies around someone new. I was, per usual, slightly awkward, but this has become part of what I like to call “the Krista charm.” I honestly believe some guys just like it because it is authentically me. The best dating advice I could ever give is to always be yourself. The right people will absolutely love you for it.

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This is what I look like trying to be flirty or charming. A teenie bopper with gum stuck in her hair — cute!

I don’t think this particular gentleman was charmed by me. I’m pretty sure he wasn’t repulsed or anything — I guess I’ll never know — but I was definitely disappointed when we had such a great time the night before and he didn’t seem interested in getting to know me further. So this was what rejection felt like. I had never really experienced it in such an obvious way by a guy before and my ex didn’t count because we had so many reasons to break up. This was just meeting someone I was kind of into who didn’t like me back.

Rejection is a part of life. Since I’ve started dating again I’ve been rejected, and I’ve rejected a handful of guys. It never feels good to put yourself out there and be turned down, but when you learn to love yourself you realize that it’s nothing personal — you just didn’t click in a romantic way with someone. There are so many other fish in the sea, and getting another “no” out of the way is one step closer to finding someone who will love you to your core and appreciate you for the amazing human being you are.

Today’s lesson: If someone turns you down pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and try again. Dating is essentially a numbers game — the more people you meet the more likely one of them is going to click! Don’t get discouraged and never let someone make you feel like you are not worthy of true love — YOU ARE.