Irreplaceable

One of the sadder parts of having a chronic illness is when you question your own self-worth. When you’re in your twenties and chronically ill it’s really hard seeing all of the people around you traveling the world, working towards their dream job, and having fun in whatever way they see fit — whether that is going out with friends late into the night, playing sports and working out, or taking a spontaneous road trip with a big group of friends.

Some days it’s hard for me to do anything other than rest, and sometimes I have to cancel plans at the last minute because my autonomic nervous system decides that I shouldn’t be comfortable enough to do an activity. This becomes especially heartbreaking when I feel like I’ve let my loved ones down by not being able to do something that they want to. It sometimes makes me wonder why they choose me to play the special role of “best friend” or “girlfriend,” instead of someone who can be carefree and fun all the time. My chronic illness is probably my biggest insecurity.

My cardiologist must literally be an angel, as he has been so kind and comforting since the beginning of my illness. Since we have gotten to know each other, anytime he looks at my heart on an echocardiogram he looks puzzled and then says, “Krista, your heart is too beautiful for this world” with the most genuine smile on his face. It makes me tear up because I know he’s talking about something different than my physical heart — as that often beats a little too fast for its own good. He is instead referring to the core of my being. This little comment serves as a reminder that just because I sometimes feel broken or like I don’t have an as important purpose in the world as others does not mean that it’s the truth. I know other people who are sick or have struggles that make them different, and they have become even more incredible because of what they’ve been through. During times of loss, we often gain a new sense of empathy, a new appreciation for life, and a great deal of strength we never knew we had. Hardship can make us bitter, or it can be something we use to connect with others and help make them feel less alone. This is the sole reason I write so openly about my own struggles.

God puts people on this earth and lets them have hardship sometimes, not because He doesn’t love us or has forgotten about us, but instead because He wants us to glorify Him in all we do — that includes using our own heartache to lift up others. Sometimes our purpose is greater than fulfilling our own dreams.

My heart was broken. Yes, now I have an awesome boyfriend, wonderful family, and friends I know care deeply about me, but at 22 years old I had to give up my dream to live in a big city and write for Seventeen magazine and begin the fight to get my life back. Since that day three-and-a-half years ago I have chosen to push forward, even when I don’t necessarily feel like it, and never give up hope. There are a lot of things I haven’t done that I would have loved to do. I wanted to live in New York City again and I wanted to have an incredibly fast-paced, spontaneous job because that’s what I have always enjoyed so much. I love interviewing people and learning more about their stories, I love keeping up with teen trends and offering my advice to young women, and I have always wanted to make a positive impact on the world starting with our youth.

But God has a different plan for me than the one I had for myself. I can’t handle the stress or physical pressure a job in journalism has, but I can handle being vulnerable and toss aside my pride to show people that they are absolutely not alone in the world. I can handle publishing my deepest thoughts on a platform like this, even though not everyone will understand everything that I write about. Perhaps most important, though, through my struggles I have learned to love others deeply — whether or not I am their cup of tea and whether or not we have similar beliefs or values.

I still have days where I feel insecure about the way my life is with POTS, and I wonder when it will be my turn to actually live like I’m in my twenties. When I start feeling like this, though, I try to take a look at the people around me and notice how many people choose to open up to me and choose to make me an important part of their life. It isn’t because we can go out and have a wild night together or because I am able to get them into exclusive VIP parties. The people I am important to love me because of the way I love, and because of who I am as a person. There are certain “Krista traits” that are unique and special to the world. My power is that I love in a way that is irreplaceable to those who receive it. I will do anything for the people who are closest to me, and I will never turn down an opportunity to show love to those who need it, even if it means sacrificing something on my end. I strongly believe each and every person on this earth has their own qualities that are absolutely irreplaceable too.

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My favorite way to show love is through writing.

Somehow I think a lot of people will be able to relate to this post. I think we all have our own insecurities, especially in a world where it’s so easy to compare. If I have learned one thing from having a chronic illness, it’s that people love those who are genuine and themselves. We are all so different from one another, but that’s what makes the world such an amazing place. People don’t have to have a chronic illness to be able to understand some of the things I have dealt with, such as insecurity and loss. There have been so many times where someone very different than myself has reached out to me and been able to relate to something I have written in their own very different life. We are all humans with the same basic feelings and a desire to love and be loved. Just because you feel broken sometimes doesn’t mean you are not valuable to this world and loved by so many people — some of which you haven’t even met yet. Never doubt your self-worth just because you are different. The best way to make a lasting impact on the world is often because of the differences that you have to offer.


Photo Credit: Audrey Denison

Midweek Mystery: Allergic To Girlfriend?

I have the strangest story, but I also think it’s kind of hilarious and worth a small blog post.

Lately whenever I go over to Robert’s place we have a nice time for awhile, but then he starts to complain about being incredibly itchy. At first I thought it was a little funny — Robert is one of those people who kind of jokes around when he complains about stuff, so his complaints don’t always feel as real right off the bat. Anyway, he started joking that he was allergic to me because he only noticed the itchiness when I was around. After a few times, though, I started feeling a little annoyed. Why was it that he only noticed the itchiness when I was around? What if he really was allergic to me? After all, Robert had shared a story with me recently about a woman who is allergic to her husband. Maybe this was a sign that I’m setting him off and need to find a solution… Fast!

I always say I’m not superstitious, but I actually think I am in some ways. I sometimes feel like I “jinx” myself and I do think things can come up in your life for a reason. The older I am getting, though, the more I am realizing there are just a lot of coincidences in life that seem to be signs, but are just more notable than other mundane things.

Anyway, I started thinking about new products I’ve been using, because obviously he didn’t become allergic to me overnight. I get a few different makeup boxes with samples, so am always using something new. I felt really fed up when I started noticing that I was kind of itchy too. I realized that the chronic pain I have had been masking it, but I was definitely a little itchy too. I still couldn’t think of anything I was using that would make someone itchy, though. Especially someone else…

Until I took a shower and prepped my hair for my mom to blowdry it.* As I was running my fingers through my wet hair to put some product in it, I stopped and looked at the sample size container of the heat protection I had just put on my hands. Could it be?! 

I flipped the product around to read the back of the bottle and I kid you not, I had a real life Slumdog-Millionaire-style flashback when I saw the word “Rose Hips” on the description.

Holy crap, this is it! I knew without a doubt that this once-amazing, now-stupid hair product was the culprit. Rose hips, after all, are used in ITCHING POWDER. I knew this because back when I was a young prankster one of my friends and I used itching powder** on her brother (Yes, some of my teenage pranks are my biggest regrets, haha). 13-year-old me was curious about what caused the itching, though, and to this day I have remembered that “rose hips” were the main ingredient in itching powder.

Why the heck would a company use something that could potentially be so itchy in their product?! My fingers moved swiftly over my phone screen as I Googled two simple words,

“Itching powder”

The top result you could click on was “Rose Hips.” I smiled, smugly. Look at you, Sherlock, I thought to myself. You’ve done it again.

I couldn’t change the fact that I had already put the product in my hair, but I threw it in a drawer and locked it away so I wouldn’t go on autopilot and use it again. Ever since I’ve given up this product neither of us have been itchy. It’s official: I, like the Olsen twins, can solve any crime by dinnertime.

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Credit: Dualstar Productions

*My mom often dries my hair for me, as I have chronic pain in my arms and can’t hold a hairdryer up too long without hurting myself. She is such an angel!

**As an adult I realize this is incredibly immature and mean, but as a young teen it seemed like a hilarious, harmless prank. In all honesty I don’t know whether or not it worked, as it was one of the pranks you could buy from “Five Below,” but I still encourage you to think about others before planning out a prank. Yes, pranks are hilarious (With the right people who think it’s funny too), but only if nobody gets hurt — physically or emotionally — and everyone involved will enjoy what’s going on. Robert and I both love pranks, so I don’t usually mind when he plays a joke on me, and he is always up for a funny joke at his expense too.

Comparison Is The Thief Of Joy

Yesterday I shared a pretty personal post to my Instagram account. This isn’t a particularly new thing, but it is always scary putting your heart out there for the world to see.

Something I am going to start talking about a little more on here is body image. I have been so content with my body image for the most part since my junior year of college, but there have definitely a few little bumps along the road, yesterday being one of them.

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I’ve had an overwhelming two weeks with a lot of sickness (like, normal people colds and such — not only my chronic illnesses) and really gotten off my normal POTS recovery schedule. Missing a day or two here and there is alright, but a large collection of days? Not good.

So not only was I starting to feel worse, but I started getting inside my own head and letting my mind bully my body. Since day one of getting sick I made the decision to be kind and gentle with myself, take one day at a time, and not compare myself to others. Theodore Roosevelt was spot-on when he said,

“Comparison is the thief of joy.”

I knew that comparing the new life I never wanted for myself — having a chronic illness — with my friends who were going out into the world and getting their first post-college jobs and apartments would only be detrimental to my health. Rather than moping at home about the death of my shiny new dream job at Seventeen magazine I decided to focus on the things I could do. I could watch The Food Network and learn to cook, even if my body wasn’t actually up to cooking yet. I could write short blog posts with my dictation software. I could call my grandparents and make their day a little brighter; I still had the ability to be there for my friends and family. So those were the things I focused on.

When a handful of my friends started doing a bikini body workout I felt a little left out. Not that it was their fault; they would be happy to have me on board, but I am physically unable to do that kind of exercise with my new collection of illnesses. My Instagram feed and Facebook page began to flood with photos of weight lifting, sports bra before and after photos, and small digs at different body types. After a short while it all started to get in my head. Since I got sick I have not been able to do intense cardio workouts (I would faint pretty quickly), and I can’t lift more than a couple of pounds. I lost the muscle tone I was used to having my entire life, and I was the person so many of the girls would complain about being online — the before picture… And I absolutely cannot help the way I look.

This got me thinking more about the culture we live in. When did we start putting our self-worth in the hands of others, and why do we listen to the lies they tell us about our bodies? What exactly is the perfect body and why do we work so hard to change our physical appearance, but forget about changing our mindset? Being healthy is a wonderful thing, but appreciating everything your body can do at every single stage in life is incredibly important. Loving yourself  no matter what your shape or size is, and realizing that your worth isn’t dependent on the body that carries you is an important factor to being content and secure in yourself.

It sucks that we sometimes question our worth because of something as minuscule as the paint job on our outer shell. I genuinely think every single person I meet is beautiful in his or her own way. I can come up with a long list of amazing things about a person if I get to know them. Just ask my friends; odds are I have written them a letter (Or a hundred) about what a great person they are. Why are we so much harder on ourselves than we would be on a friend?

There is absolutely nothing wrong about working out and taking care of your body, (It’s actually a great thing!) but it becomes dangerous you make yourself sick by striving for perfection. I want to be someone people think of when they start to question their own beauty and self-worth. I want to serve as a reminder that it’s not at all about what is on the outside, but rather what’s on the inside that really matters. It may sound corny, but kindness is what counts, and the way we make others feel about themselves speaks volumes above how many “likes” we get on Instagram or whether or not we look like the people we see on television, in magazines, or on the runway. Once we get past our flesh and really dig deep into our souls we can make a lasting difference in this world.

Secret Santa Grinch

Oh my gosh guys, I am so embarrassed (side note: how many blog posts have I started with this introduction now? I’m having a serious case of Déjà vu).

I made such a silly mistake that made me seem like the biggest jerk ever.

So basically my good friend Kalika and I decided to set up a snail mail secret Santa. Sounds fun, right?! It’s the same a regular one — you draw a name and that’s the person you’re giving a gift to, except it’s all done by mail! She and I both love care packages and snail mail, so it’s perfect. You’re welcome, USPS.

Anyway, Kalika found a cool website called DrawNames.com that does all the organizing for you. You set up a profile in your little group, which includes your first and last name, address, and who you are supposed to send a gift to.

I’m not necessarily technologically challenged, but I also wouldn’t say technology and I are absolute BFFs. I’d say we’re really good friends because he’s super cool and entertaining and a generally good guy, but he sometimes decides to stab me in the back… So I should just be extra-alert when we’re hanging out.

Anyway, I was really confused when I got a package from Amazon in the mail.

What the heck did I order? I wondered to myself.

I’ve been doing some shopping for friends online lately, but I couldn’t remember purchasing anything from Amazon. Especially an item that would come in a slim envelope like the one sitting on my porch! The only thing I could really reason was that Petzi, the present Robert had sent me from Amazon, had forgotten something in my first package.

I went to the kitchen and opened it, only to find this note and Amazon gift card enclosed:

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What in the world?! I thought to myself. Who could have possibly known I would want a Kylie lip kit? Yes, I have been more into makeup lately — especially lip products — but I don’t remember talking to anyone about this particular item.

My first thought was Robert, as he’s always great at giving gifts randomly, and even better at reading my mind (As you will see in my next post!). I thought about it a little more, though, and there were too many things that didn’t add up. First, he wouldn’t have a clue what kind of makeup things were “trendy” right now. These lip kits are kind of for makeup (Or KUWTK) fanatics. Second, he’s probably never in his life purchased any sort of lip products, so wouldn’t realize that some of these kits can get very expensive compared to others. Third, how the heck would he ever pick out a color for me?! Girls would know that I’d be into the “Candy K” or “Kristin” shade, but Robert might think trying something risky like “Dead of the Night” or worse — “Trick” would be cool. Yikes.

I sat down and thought really hard. Then it all hit me at once.

Oh my gosh, my brain went into panic mode as I rushed to my laptop. My fingers thought faster than my mind, and swiftly typed “Gmail” into the browser. Then I searched, “Secret Santa” and clicked on the last email link we had been sent. It took me to the group page and I clicked the blue “Krista.” This is what I was met with:

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Everything clicked all at once as I had a flashback.

The day we created this page I was offered to “create a wishlist” for what I wanted. I remember thinking how stupid this option was, as you shouldn’t ask your Secret Santa for exactly what you want. What’s the point if you’re just going to request something? I still clicked the link, though, because the “Kylie Lip Kit” suggestion caught my eye. I scrolled through the page of recommendations, and clicked out of the page, never to give it a second thought.

Until now.

I seemed like such a jerk to some girl I don’t even know! Everyone in the Secret Santa group ended up being Kalika’s friends, most of whom I hadn’t met. I immediately felt like a moron, as any of my friends would understand this was just another goofy “Krista story,” but this person just had the impression that I demanded Kylie lip kits right and left. I looked back at the incredibly sweet note she had included and felt even worse. Most people would be so annoyed at someone demanding something that was more than twice the amount we were supposed to spend for this gift exchange, but this girl was so sweet and genuine about her gift that I really felt bad. I quickly texted Kalika with a rant about how embarrassed I was, and sent this message to the Secret Santa group:

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Luckily the person who gave me this sent me a message and was so kind about the misunderstanding, but it was still lightly traumatic for me. I hate being high maintenance or making other people feel uncomfortable, which is so unfortunate considering the person I am and how often I make goofy mistakes.

Today’s lesson: I should not be allowed to try new technologies — at least if they can affect another person!

Going Cruelty Free

I love animals. I always have and grew up having a bunch of different pets. We fostered 2 dogs when I was really young — a Golden Retriever, then a German Shepherd, and then welcomed Gracie, our sweet Boston Terrier, into our home. She lived with us until she went to doggie heaven at 17 years old. We rescued 2 cats off the street — “Kitty” and “Spider Man” (ha!), and even though I am not the biggest fan of cats I loved that we were able to give creatures who needed a home a warm place to sleep… And they grew on me quickly, even though they maybe didn’t love me as much back.

I’ve never had a pet fish before, but we’ve had lizards, hermit crabs, hamsters, (Until I realized being so ticklish was kind of dangerous, so gave him to my best friend) frogs, and just about anything with legs. I have always wanted a pet snake, but that’s where my mom — the biggest animal lover I know — draws the line.

My mother raised me from a really young age to be kind to everyone I meet — and that includes animals. After all, they are God’s little creatures too, and they deserve to be treated with respect. I have watched her save countless animals throughout my life. We didn’t only take pets into our home to care for, but my mom has always been the person to go into the street of our neighborhood when we see a turtle and put it safely on the side of the road it was trying to get to.* She has saved injured birds, found lost dogs, and even helped me move a snake from the road when I was adamant that I didn’t want him to get squished. My mom is hands-down the kindest and most selfless person I have ever met, and I think she is such an angel.

Anyway, it was recently brought to my attention that my favorite Covergirl mascara was tested on animals, which got me thinking more about what other products I might use that could be harming innocent little creatures. Guys, there are so many things in my beauty routine that are tested on animals.

One thing I want to start focusing more on writing about is small little things we can do to help change the world. Yes, I know it’s maybe a little naive of me to think I can change the world by doing something as small as redoing my beauty routine, but that’s why I want to use my writing to encourage others to do the same. I have some ideas of what I will be focusing on in weeks to come, but in the meantime if you want to join me and stop buying products (shampoos, conditioners, makeup, lotion, the list goes on!) that test on animals, Cruelty-Cutter is a great app to use when purchasing something to see whether or not it is an item you should purchase or cut from your collection. I am currently trying several new products that I’ll be doing reviews on soon, but in the meantime I encourage you to be aware of how what you use affects others.

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Macy is excited about making a change too! Yorkies have hair instead of fur, so they’re all about their beauty products… She will be switching to an animal friendly hair care routine as well.
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My sweet angel, Gracie

*Just an FYI, when you do move a turtle, always put him onto the side of the street he was originally going to. They are determined little fellas who know what they want, and will just put themselves into harm’s way again to cross the road to his ultimate destination.