Authentic Love Isn’t Selfish

We’re going to pick up where I left off in my Corinthians segment. I know I am really breaking this down, but I think there is just so much more than meets the eye that I don’t want to miss any of the beauty that is intended to teach us to love others more selflessly.

“[Love] does not envy, it does not boast. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking…”

Social media is the perfect breeding ground for the first two traits that do not exhibit love. Being envious of others online lives is super easy because all the content is curated. Whether it looks like a perfect love life like Channing and Jenna displayed on Instagram for millions to see or is an incredible collage of beautiful sunsets all around the world from a favorite travel blogger, it’s easy to wonder how other people have perfect lives while you are going through something difficult. It’s often through others boasting online that people can begin to channel feelings of jealousy and get a bad case of the green-eyed monster. I think it’s more important now than ever to learn how to cheer on each other throughout the good parts of life and lean on one another in the more difficult stages. That is the incredible part about social media that we can all choose to focus on. If we learn to count others’ victories as our own we will have so many things to be joyful for each and every day.

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Dishonoring others is such a wide range of things. With a friend or family member it could be talking about them behind their back, being unsupportive of a big life adjustment, or being cruel to someone for something they can’t control. With a romantic partner some examples would be thinking about being with someone other than your significant other, looking at pornography, yelling or talking down to them, or acting on inappropriate feelings. When you dishonor someone you love it is often one of the most obvious ways to hurt the relationship. It almost always goes hand in hand with destroying the bond and trust built, and depending on the severity might even end a relationship.

Self-seeking strangely enough includes a lot of the things under the “dishonoring others” umbrella. To truly love someone, you have to put aside some of your selfish desires and look to see what is in their best interest. I’ve dated people on both ends of the selfish and selfless spectrum and it’s incredible to see the difference in the quality of life with the two extremes. I do believe someone can love you even if they are completely selfish, but they aren’t showing love when in that state of mind, and that’s a really big part of any kind of relationship. There are givers in the world, takers, and the people who are “just right.” Although I think giving is a really beautiful thing, it is so important to still take care of your own dreams and not give every single part of yourself away to someone else. I am definitely someone who gives until I become empty if someone is willing to keep taking and had to learn the hard way how damaging that is. When a giver latches onto a taker they become drained and depressed. Living completely for someone else isn’t healthy or normal. Living with someone and chasing after both of your dreams together is one of the most beautiful gifts God has given mankind, though. There’s a big difference between chasing dreams together and choosing to be partners in crime and being someone’s glorified sidekick.

That being said, if you are a giver it’s wonderful you can use your heart to make someone else’s life more bright and beautiful, but make sure to keep your own dreams alive and be with someone who gives back. I think givers should actually be with other givers — or the people who are “just right” in the middle. This offers a great way to monitor how equal a partnership is, and makes the giver sometimes receive too. If you feel like you haven’t given in awhile and might naturally be a taker, it doesn’t mean you’re a bad person by any means — it just means you have to make a more conscious effort to give in whatever love language your partner enjoys receiving (Which may be different than the kind of love you enjoy!). Lastly, if you feel you’re a giver and often become exhausted, I’d like to challenge you to ask someone you care about for something. Whether it’s an act of service like driving you to a doctor’s appointment (This is my go-to example since it’s just like, my life right now) or for a small gift like a coffee delivery, I think it’s important to be able to ask for what you want in life. Selfishness is definitely something that just makes us human and we have to work to find a good balance of give and take in our relationships. Notice how many times I’ve used the word “work” in my posts all about love lately?


We’ve talked about four different things that categorize love so far: patience, kindness, selflessness, and honoring others. Later this week we are going to touch on anger and forgiveness. Thanks for hanging around with me through this short little series! I am currently working on a different post that is close to my heart, but that also makes me feel nervous. I will gather up some nerve and share that with y’all next week. Stay tuned. ❤

Love Is Kind

The next part of Corinthians that I want to dissect is still in the first sentence, “Love is kind.” Kindness is one of the most powerful actions in the world, and is a virtue that offers one of the greatest opportunities for us to make an enormous impact on the lives of others.

My blogger friend, Tony, wrote this comment on my last post,

“Love is a word with a lot of weight and responsibility. It is patient and kind and those two attributes can be very hard to practice in life.”

I agree with this wholeheartedly. When you tell someone you love them, you are making a promise that you will care for their heart and be the best version of yourself because you believe they deserve that. Loving someone is an action, and actions take work. As unromantic as it sounds, relationships take a lot of conscious effort, compromise, and choosing to prioritize someone else’s needs along with your own every single day. Love isn’t something humans are naturally good at because our instinct is to take care of our own needs and look out for ourselves before caring for someone else.

Kindness isn’t innate and something that we are preprogrammed to do. People can get to a point where it’s the first reaction they have to another person, but I believe you must master patience before getting to kindness. I don’t think that it is an accident that 1 Corinthians lists patience before kindness; it seems like it was actually very intentionally written that way. We are given a million circumstances each week to practice patience. Whether it’s to a stranger at a grocery store, or to a friend, small annoyances and frustrations pop up all the freaking time. By choosing to forgo our own desires to stand up and get angry with someone and deciding to give them the benefit of the doubt, we are choosing to be patient. Kindness is one step further. Choosing kindness means we aren’t just choosing to not act, but we are choosing to act in a way that is generous and giving towards someone else.

For example, if you are walking behind someone who is very slowly pushing a grocery cart to the checkout line you want to get to, being patient is slowly following behind, without huffing and puffing or silently rolling your eyes. Being kind might be making a conversation with the person and asking how they are doing while you are waiting in line, or offering to help push the cart to the front if they look like they are struggling with it. Patience is nice; kindness is beautiful. 

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Kindness isn’t always my go-to action. Sometimes I feel tired and am passive, and just tolerate people. Other times I’m too focused on myself to be kind. Whether I’m in pain or just having an off day, I don’t always take the time and effort to go the extra mile for others. The good thing, though, is that kindness has become a much more natural reaction just from years of practice. I haven’t always been patient, which is the foundation kindness is built upon. Making a conscious effort to care for others and see things from their point of view has made my heart infinitely more kind, and has given me the ability to feel empathy for others. I think if we all just made the time and effort to do the hard work it takes to be patient and kind, it will become more of a norm in our society and the world would be a much happier and healthier place to live in.


How are you kind to others? What advice would you give someone who wants to learn to react with kindness? I would love to hear your advice on this subject, too!

Timeless Life And Love Advice

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” 1 Corinthians 13: 4-7

There is a reason this Bible verse is read time and time again at wedding ceremonies. Not only is it incredibly romantic, but it is God’s advice to humans about how we are to love one another. If we could all learn how to love like these four small verses suggest, the world would be an incredibly different place to live in.

I want to dissect 13 Corinthians this week. I have always said this is one of my favorite Bible verses, and I would love to share with you why. Whether or not you are a Christian, these posts will give you a greater sense of who I am, and maybe offer a few tips on how to love those in your own life even harder than ever before.

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Love is patient.

Patience is a virtue.” This is a quote most of us have heard at one time or another, but have you ever worked on creating patience in your own heart? I would say patience is one of the most difficult things human beings can cultivate. Whether you get frustrated about little things like traffic or slow walkers, or are impatient to fill the big things in life like finding the right person to spend the rest of your life with after years of dating around, patience isn’t a value that is just handed to you — you really have to work for it.

I would say I am a super-patient person in many ways, but there are still some areas that could use great improvement. I don’t mind waiting around for a friend who is running late, although traffic annoys me, it doesn’t usually affect my mood, and I am a very good teacher to people who want to learn something new. I am a great listener and would never snap at a friend for telling me the same thing over and over again. A big reason I feel like I have become a lot more patient in the past few years is that I have become a lot more empathetic. Getting sick with POTS has forced me to choose whether I should be patient and gentle with myself while working to get better or be frustrated and angry at the things I cannot control. To me it’s been a lot easier choosing to enjoy the little blessings that come about every day, and learn to deal with the crummy things that come along with a chronic illness without being bitter about them. When people ask me how I’m doing I often find the answer is, “I’m very slowly getting better.” Like, very slowly. I do sometimes feel frustrated with how much work I put into my health and the sometimes microscopic results that come from it, but I also realize that any progress is still good. Slow and steady wins the race, right?

Something I really struggle with is being patient with God’s plan for me and not understanding His timeline. I constantly question Him and whether or not He knows what’s best for me. I have so many desires that aren’t being filled, and I just want everything in my life to line up and be great now; I don’t want to have to wait for it. Impatience is definitely manifested differently in each individuals’ lives, but for me it’s just the desire to be a normal twenty-something. I want to be able to run, hike, play volleyball, drive thirty minutes to DC to visit friends, and write for hours on end without any pain. I want my freedom back so badly, and I want it now. I’ve grown so tired of the weekly doctor appointments, stretching and mobility exercises, and redundant work on the recumbent bike. I feel frustrated that despite working out, eating well, and taking care of myself better than most people my age do, I am physically not able to do as much as my peers. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wondered why God doesn’t choose to just heal me — I know He can — and how often I do believe I know what’s best for myself. The only thing I can really gather from this is that God isn’t finished with me yet. He is still working on me and has a greater purpose for me than what I have planned for myself. This is where faith and patience become really important components of my life, and I am working to be better at both every day.

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Today’s lesson: Anger and frustration are two feelings, but that doesn’t mean they have to manifest into an action. I think the beginning stages of working on patience is going to include a lot of inner dialogue with yourself and learning how to think and rationalize before reacting. One of the coolest things about humans is that we do have the ability to think and then act, while most other creatures just follow their heart’s desire without weighing the consequences or repercussions of their actions. Patience isn’t easy, but it sure makes life a whole lot better when you do learn how to integrate it into everyday life.

Full

First, I would like to start this blog post by saying “Hoppy Easter.” Macy is sitting in my lap right now and wanted me to include a cute animal pun.

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The change in weather in the DC area has been crazy lately. This is a huge annoyance because it’s made me more symptomatic. Fall has become my favorite season since the temperatures are typically pretty mild, and there doesn’t seem to be as much rain as there is in the springtime.

This summer will be my 5 year anniversary with POTS. Did you know that a 50 year anniversary is called a “golden anniversary?” I guess you’re typically supposed to get your significant other something made out of gold. My brain is a funny thing and works really quickly jumping from one subject to the next, so I somehow got to thinking about that and wondering if a 5 year anniversary had a name. After a quick meeting with Google, I found that silverware is the token gift for 5 years. I couldn’t help but grin since I often feel like I don’t have enough spoons throughout the week. This is a kind of cruel irony.

One of the hardest things about having a chronic illness is just the simple fact that life is more drastically unpredictable than the average human’s. You often hear someone with a chronic condition say that they are having a “good day” or a “bad day,” but either way it will pass and there will be another kind lined up and ready to take its place. POTS has taught me to really enjoy moments, especially when I get to do something out of the ordinary that might cause a lot of joy — and bring with it a lot of pain the next day.

I write about pain a lot more than I ever talk about it because I do want to enjoy my life and have the little moments that make life so beautiful. Regardless of feeling crappy right now, I want to remember that four years ago my life was being lived horizontally. I do feel really blessed that I can walk, sit upright, and enjoy so many amazing things that I do take for granted. A few years ago I couldn’t stand more than a minute at a time without fainting, and the only time I really left home was to go to the doctors office or to the gym for my daily recumbent bike routine.  The thing I find most interesting about this is that I have really fond memories even from way back then. The amazing part of being an optimist and looking at the glass half full is that I do remember how shitty I felt, but it isn’t at the forefront of my mind when I think about being 23 years old. I think about watching Top Chef with my mom and dreaming about being able to cook again one day. I remember making “Dunkaroos” with Goldfish and salt because I couldn’t figure out another way to eat enough, and I remember close friends coming over and sitting on the couch with me and telling me stories about what their life is like post college. I remember sitting with my passenger seat reclined as my dad drove me two miles down the road to do my gym workout, and the stories we would tell each other back and forth. I remember him telling me I would get better one day, and my mom playing “Would You Rather” with me when I couldn’t sleep at night. I still have the memory of lying down in the middle of the movie theater floor so I wouldn’t pass out while waiting in line for popcorn with friends, but I don’t remember the extreme nausea and dizziness from that episode anymore. Now it’s a kind of funny memory, and I wonder how there was a time I didn’t feel embarrassed to be the center of attention for something so out of the ordinary. In fact, I feel lucky that I get embarrassed about POTS things now. This means I am healing and major health complications are not a regular part of my day.

Tonight I am stiff, sore, and ready for sleep. My shoulders hurt from a long week and I am ready for the pain to subside so I can get a good night’s sleep. Instead of remembering this feeling a year from now, though, I know that I am going to remember what it was like going out on a fun double date and reminiscing through old college memories, rather than how badly my shoulders hurt or how tired I am of “working to get better.” I know that one day I will be a lot more normal because I am still making improvements, even if they sometimes feel small.

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I don’t know whether looking at the glass half full is something you’re born with, or an outlook you develop, but I am so thankful that I have that ability in my life. I know sometimes it can be easy to feel frustrated or wonder why you got the short end of the stick in one way or another, but the way I see it is if a glass is half empty, it is because you enjoyed something from it, so there is something to be joyful for. Glasses are things that are meant to be filled and emptied, kind of in the same way that life sometimes has its ups and downs. We may not have the ability to control everything that happens in our lives, but we can learn to control our outlook, which is actually one of the most incredible and worthwhile things a person can do. Life isn’t always easy or fun, but there is always something to be joyful for — you just have to learn how to look for it.

I Said “Yes!”

Well, I have officially found my wedding dress!

I have a million cute stories about the process, but some of these will have to wait until after Robert and I get married. I am being super careful about not sharing too much because I love surprises and want him to be completely surprised the day of the wedding. We aren’t going to do a first look because we’re both pretty traditional and want to see each other for the first time at the ceremony. I’m really excited about a lot of moments, but our first time seeing each other is one  of two moments I am most excited about.

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Dress shopping was such a fun experience and a small part of me is sad that it’s over, but I’m so thrilled with how the entire process went. I tried on every single style dress imaginable, and the one I chose was the only one that made my mom cry. That was the moment she and I both knew I had found the perfect dress.

I can’t wait to share more with you all, but I am so happy that I can give little peeks into our journey on here. I have a lot of fun photos in wedding dresses I’ll share after we get married, but I don’t want Robert seeing me in any of the gowns until this fall (And he’s an avid reader of my blog — right, babe? 😉 ).

Next on my list: Find and message the rest of the vendors I need, choose some beautiful bridesmaid dresses, and GO CAKE TASTING!! I think before I met Robert the most exciting part about planning a wedding always seemed like it would be the many opportunities for cake tasting. I will most definitely be writing a lot about this, as dessert is one of my biggest passions in life.

From Girlfriend To Fiancée

Wow, the past few months have been crazy in the best way.

Robert and I got engaged in November and I had plenty of time to breathe and enjoy our new titles as “fiancée” and “fiancé” (Side note: did you know that the word differs in spelling for a man and a woman? Two “e’s” mean the word is for a female, and just one makes it male). Now that I’m in month five of being engaged I want to tell you all how everything has been and what kind of advice I have for people when they first get engaged too.

First, one thing I did that I would absolutely do over and over again is that I kept the engagement off social media for a little over a week. It was so special having this little secret with Robert and all my loved ones, and it made that time so memorable and easier to live in the moment. Rather than getting hundreds of calls, texts, and well wishes online, we were able to hold hands and be quietly excited at the thought of getting to marry each other one day in the near future. It felt a lot more intimate and all of the new changes had time to sink in before announcing our new status to the world.

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Second, I recommend actually searching for venues after taking a few weeks to let everything sink in. My initial response to the dozens of “Have you set a date?!” question was, “I am just taking some time to enjoy being engaged.” While that is all fine and dandy, I knew I wanted to get married in the fall. We got engaged in the winter, and wanted a fall wedding. Had I started right away I would have had about a year to plan, whereas I knocked off about a third of that to just sit back and relax. Luckily, everything on that front has worked itself out and I’m really happy with the way our plans are materializing, but the Washington DC area is super competitive, even in the wedding industry. If you want to get married on a certain date or time of year, you should keep that in mind while figuring out how long you are going to be engaged and when to start planning.

Third, there is no right or wrong timeline. Some engagements are short, others are long, and there are a million in between. Figure out what you think is right, then just go for it! Planning such a big event is definitely a new and unique challenge, but it’s also a lot of fun once you stop dipping your toes in the water and just jump into planning. Luckily, all of the research I’ve done in college and assignments I had at Seventeen are really paying off, because it takes a lot of work to find the right vendors to create a big event like this.

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Finally, enjoy second of being engaged and make sure to still go on date nights and do things outside of planning your wedding. Time goes by so fast, and before you know it you’ll be a husband or wife instead of just a fiancé(e)!

The ER And My Heroes

Hello, blog family, I’m finally back! I had a pretty rough week. I haven’t really gotten much of a cold/flu/virus sickness since getting POTS because I am so incredibly careful with taking care of myself and not hanging out with people if they’ve been sick recently. My cardiologist has always emphasized the importance of a flu shot and taking preventative measures with POTS because being sick makes my chronic illness a lot more difficult to manage. Now I see why.

My parents took me to the emergency room just over a week ago because I kept getting sick and passing out on my way to or from the bathroom (Or the bucket next to my bed). That night was weird because I had decided to sleep at 8:30 due to extreme nausea. I had been in the car for eight hours on our way home from Boston that day, and hadn’t felt well most of the trip home. I typically get a little nauseous on car rides — particularly long ones — so dismissed it as a POTS thing and ate a few ginger chews in hopes of feeling a little better. There weren’t any signs of having any sort of bug, except for the fact that I almost fell asleep while we were driving a few times, which is really not a typical Krista move.

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My Instagram story that night. Yikes!

Anyway, despite going to bed early, I woke up every hour with really bad abdominal pain and couldn’t fall back asleep for more than a few minutes at a time. Finally, around 10:30, I started getting sick. As most of you know I still live at home, so my poor mom had to come in and check on me a million times to make sure I wouldn’t faint and hit my head on the hard bathroom floor. Finally, she came in and told me to get dressed because we were going to take a trip to the emergency room.

Surprisingly I didn’t put up a fuss. I slowly walked back to my room and threw on my Nike sweatpants and “Army Girlfriend” sweatshirt. My mental state was in tact, as I debated putting on my engagement ring. I quickly decided against it, and grabbed Robert’s dog tags instead. I figured just on the off chance something was really wrong I wouldn’t want my ring to get lost during any hospital drama, and that the dog tags would be pretty easy to wear throughout any procedure.

My dad helped me to the car as I clutched a big, white plastic bucket in my lap. Luckily I didn’t need it, as I had cut myself off of food and water an hour prior. Not drinking made me feel sick, but it also left my stomach empty, which was just what I needed.

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Five long hours, two IVs of saline solution, and a couple of Zofrans later, I finally began to feel better. A few different things ran through my mind as I sat on my little white hospital bed. First, it’s crazy that nurses work all hours of the day. Like, we got to the hospital at 1-something, and didn’t leave until a little after 6 in the morning. There were people running around doing their job like it was a normal hour. Second, these people put their own health at risk by being around people who are sick with a lot scarier things than just the stomach bug that I had. Even towards the beginning of my visit I tried to stay far away from the people who were caring for me because I didn’t want to spread my germs. I quickly realized they weren’t afraid of getting my virus when they poked and prodded at the EKG  electrodes I am all too familiar with. It was hilariously comforting having some normal medical procedures done when I felt like hell. I knew they weren’t going to help me feel better, but it was nice having something that made it feel like a normal trip to the doctors. Lastly, all of my nurses were kind and made me feel comfortable — at least considering the circumstances. It makes a world of difference when someone takes care of your feelings along with your symptoms. I always think back to the nurse who told me I’d have to endure my awful POTS symptoms for the rest of my life and that it wouldn’t get better, and I am so grateful that she was wrong. Hope and comfort are both such healing things, and I’m thankful for each and every person who decides to be encouraging and kind to the people they come into contact with.

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Mom snapped an update for everyone when I was all taken care of and on my second IV.
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One hilarious thing I noticed was that I was in such a dazed state when we left the house that I put a sock on inside-out. Oops.

I am completely better now, and am looking forward to resuming my normal life, writing schedule, and wedding planning — which I will have a million updates on in my next few posts! I am also going to keep pushing forward in my journey get healthy again. I have a few exciting diet updates I’ll be writing about on here, and I will continue to work hard at PT and the gym to keep my symptoms at bay. Here’s to the beginning of a new week!

The Most Dramatic Bachelor Finale Of All Time

Okay, so Chris Harrison gets a lot of flack every year for hyping The Bachelor(ette) finale by saying, “This is going to be the most dramatic ending of all time.” I didn’t roll my eyes as hard when he said that this year, though, because I decided on day 1 that I needed to change things up a little and read the Reality Steve spoiler before the season even began. I knew that Arie was going to pull a Jason Mesnick and choose one person, only to later change his mind, and I knew that Lauren would be the real final choice.

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Becca K, left, Lauren B, right.

I didn’t know, however, that the ending would be this bad. I’ll be honest in saying that Arie has never been my favorite Bachelor. I didn’t feel like he was particularly emotional, and I felt like he wasn’t sympathetic enough to the girls when he was letting them go. I hated how he picked up roses and held them close to the contestants only to say, “You are such a fun girl, but I can’t give this rose to you today.” He didn’t seem particularly aware of the feelings around him, and I didn’t feel like many of his words were thoughtful and genuine. It just felt like he was reading off a script of things he thought were appropriate for the lead of The Bachelor to say.

Part of the fun of watching The Bachelor is seeing people have real feelings and get invested in one another. Throughout the entire season I just didn’t see it with any of the girls. Maybe, just maybe, Bekah M had a real connection with Arie, and he seemed to like Becca K enough throughout the season. I just didn’t see him connect emotionally with any of the contestants on the show.

Even though I knew that Arie would go back on his proposal and choose someone different than the finalist he proposed to, I didn’t really imagine it being a complete disaster. I figured they maybe just didn’t get along in the real world after filming ended, and that Arie would quietly end the engagement and ask his ex, Lauren, for a second chance. Needless to say, I was absolutely disgusted with the outcome of the show yesterday.

Something I don’t understand at all is how Arie could be okay with dumping Becca like that. He clearly had to talk to the producers and agree with breaking up with her in a very public manner, and trick her into going to a filming location so that she could be dumped on camera. First off, this is a terrible idea because breakups are emotional and tough enough without having an entire production crew on site. If he cared about her heart in the least he would have seen why this was a bad idea. Second, I don’t understand how he thought this was a good idea for his own image. Like, jumping at the chance to break up with your fiancée on national television doesn’t scream “Hero” to me, plus it shows that you just want to be on TV at any chance you get if you’re willing to share such a personal moment with millions of viewers. Third, how do you think Lauren is going to feel when she watches you completely blindsight one of the girls on her season, just to “have a shot” at winning her back? Sorry to be harsh, but Arie had absolutely no class when he thought about this decision and chose to hurt a girl he loved on national television. This could have easily been done in private, and I still wonder what the heck his motivation to do all of this on camera was. There wasn’t a chance that he’d come out of it looking good, and then the way he disrespected Becca and refused to leave after she asked him to several times really made him look bad.

I’m curious to see what Lauren has to say about all of this tonight, and whether or not she is dating Arie now, but I am happy to announce that Becca is a true winner of The Bachelor this season. She doesn’t have to marry someone who will only keep wanting what he can’t have and can’t make a decision if his life depended on it, and she now has the world at her fingertips to find a kind, thoughtful, and compassionate human being to spend her life with. I really do hope Arie found/finds whatever he is looking for, and I wish him the best. I would imagine the next several weeks will be really tough for him on the Internet, so hopefully he’ll be able to get past all of this and return to a normal life soon enough.

Marks In Time

A lot can change in a year.

Time is a funny thing because as intangible as it is, it sometimes feels very concrete. There are certain things that make time more significant. You know both college and high school are going to last 4 years, your birthday will be around again exactly 365 days from the last one, and the Christmas season is every 48 weeks or so. Having a chronic illness makes time a little fuzzy sometimes, though. I have had POTS since August of 2013 and can pinpoint different phases throughout my journey, but it feels weird that I’m coming up on five years now. I have been fighting for my health longer than the time I spent in college, which is super weird. When I think about going to Mason I have such different memories from each year I was there. When I was a freshman I was timid and shy. I didn’t feel like I had a place I belonged, and I left campus to stay with my family just about every other weekend. I liked my classes and had a couple of really close friends I would keep for the rest of my life, but I was still figuring everything out.

My sophomore year was a blast. I made so many new friends, and I had a group of people who felt like home. I made friends with the girls I would call my roommates the next year, and I was an editor for the school newspaper. I didn’t find as much confidence with writing until later in college, but I looked forward to every day I would spend in the Broadside office with all of the other aspiring writers. Sophomore year was spent finding myself, and learning what I wanted to do the rest of my time in college.

Junior year was probably my favorite. I loved feeling secure with some of the best friends I could ever dream of, and had a great balance of work and play. I turned 21 that year and will never forget that birthday. I waited to drink until I turned 21, so all of my friends crammed into our little apartment living room to celebrate with me. People brought six packs of different things to drink, but I stuck with a cherry Smirnoff Ice. I was surprised it didn’t taste very alcoholic, and took my time sipping on my new favorite drink. That year we spent long nights dancing at the bar down the street every Thursday, and still had the energy to go out and explore restaurants and museums on Friday and Saturday.

Senior year before moving to New York is a blur, but my last semester of college spent in the city was one of the best memories from those four years. I had my fair share of adventures, long hours working overtime in the office, and despite blocking it out most of the time, I had my share of lonely nights in that little shoebox apartment on the eighth floor. New York was definitely an enormous highlight of my college career, and I’m still so thankful for each and every memory I gathered from that time.

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My mom took this picture of me my first month being a New Yorker. I felt so at home rushing around the city in my little dresses and tights, and fit in with all the editors at Seventeen by living on coffee, books, and cupcakes.

Do you see how easy it was for me to create four years of my life?

It hasn’t really been like that again until recently. The first few years of getting sick really blur together. I have a little bit of a timeline I can create, but it isn’t the same concrete, certain one I have from every other year of my life.

I got sick and went to a million different doctors. I had my heart hooked up to echocardiograms, holter monitors, and got tested for diseases I had never heard of. I watched The Food Network, then I watched The Office, then even later I started a new series called Pretty Little Liars. I went to the local shopping center with friends and found myself lying on the lobby floor of the movie theater to keep from fainting. I went home and cried, and wondered why I was the person God allowed to get sick. I remember nights of lying on the couch and having conversations with friends about the outside world I no longer felt a part of, and wondering aloud if I would ever be able to have a normal twenty-something life again. I remember getting my first job while I was home sick, then having chronic, debilitating pain from using my arms too much. I was diagnosed with Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, and had to stop doing the one thing that made me feel kind of normal and independent.

I remember moments, but I have no idea when they happened.

I also don’t know when I started getting better, as it’s been super-slow, but there are a few things that offer great markers of healing. One year ago my mom hosted a Bunco party at our home. She always takes the month of February, and I often get invited to come play with her group when it’s held at our house. Bunco is essentially a game of rolling dice and giving an opportunity to catch up with friends. Last year I remember finishing the game and going upstairs and feeling heartbroken at all the pain I was in — just from rolling dice for an hour. My pectoral muscles were sore and ropey, and my shoulders and arms burned with sharp, constant pain. I regretted taxing myself so much for a game, but I also wondered how something so simple could cause so much of an issue. It wasn’t normal, and I hated having to choose between living my life and feeling good. 

She hosted this same party again last night and I got to attend. I am sore and by the end of the night I was glad to be done with the rolling motions, but today isn’t an 8 or 9 on the pain scale like it was last year. My physical therapy sessions are so beneficial for my health, but I will be able to make it until my Friday appointment without trying to hold it together while I’m reeling in pain. I’m more sore than I am on an average day, but I don’t feel like I’m going to have a complete breakdown from being in pain. I can easily handle a little bit of soreness and as long as I take it a little easier today I will make up for everything with my stretching and workouts. This is proof that despite relying heavily on physical therapy and rest, I am making progress.

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Today’s lesson: Even if you feel frustrated because something isn’t changing, taking a look at the really big picture and having little mile markers is so helpful for keeping spirits high. I still may have a long way to go in being normal again (And maybe I’ll never quite get there), but any kind of baby steps I can take is still progress. I’ve already learned so much through my journey, and I trust God to be with me every step of the way. Staying positive and remembering blessings throughout every step helps me have a thankful heart. My path has helped me become more empathetic, kind, and understanding, and it has led me to my new forever family member, which is absolutely priceless.

To The Creatives Of The World

Your work matters too.

Having a chronic illness makes me so, so thankful for people who are different than I am. I appreciate the people who can handle blood and unhinged joints, and those who have brains that work for chemistry and biology. I’m not wired like that; I enjoy using my hands to write and create stories. I like painting metaphorical pictures for people, and I love resurfacing feelings from my heart and putting them on paper for others to read and relate to.

Something that really kept my spirits up when I first got sick with POTS was watching The Food Network and reruns of The Office. Laughter is often some of the best medicine, and despite not being able to do very much physically, I was able to laugh and dream. I learned as much as I could about food and health, and I lived each moment in the present as the room spun in circles around me.

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Every chapter of my life has included a soundtrack. I hear an old favorite song and it takes me back to a memory. I often do my best writing while I am listening to music, and will play a song on repeat until I have spilled old feelings on the pages in front of me. Despite not having the same ones anymore, I have a perfect memory for feelings. I know them all so well and even though I can’t remember dates, numbers, or physical details, I always remember how my heart felt about something. The best part about my writing is that it strikes a chord with people. With each blog post I get messages about how someone could relate to my own thoughts and feelings, and I take a lot of joy in knowing I can make others feel less alone by sharing my life with them.

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There are a lot of people in the world who get credit for their practical work, but I think creative people sometimes get left out of the thankfulness. I’ve written posts about how great I think people like doctors, physical therapists, nurses, and researchers are — without them I would be a complete wreck — but I’ve conveniently left out the people I understand most. The artists, the writers, the actors, and the comedians who all make life just that much brighter and more beautiful. The world is a really cool place because we have such a vast mix of humans who care about all of the other kinds of people. Without the left brains we wouldn’t be able to fix painful everyday problems, and without the right brains we wouldn’t have all the entertainment options we do. Both types of people bring more joy to the world, and we are all are a piece of the puzzle that makes for a happier society as a whole. No matter what your talent is, use it to make the world a better place.

Today’s lesson: Just because you can’t cure sicknesses or fix things doesn’t mean you aren’t important to the world. Laughter and bringing joy through the form of creativity and entertainment is a very important job. Keep practicing what you do best and giving back to the world with your own unique talents.