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.

December 3rd

Hi SITS family! One thing I think is so much fun about this blog is that most of my friends read it, but most of my followers are complete strangers — or friends of friends, which is also super fun!

Anyway, since most of you don’t personally know me, you aren’t Facebook friends with me to know that today is my birthday. I love celebrating birthdays, but not necessarily my own because I hate being the center of attention. It’s awkward and I would 9 times out of 10 rather hear someone else talk than blab on about my life. Unless, of course, it’s writing on here I suppose!

I’m notoriously bad at planning things for myself, but in my adult years I’ve realized that that’s the only way you’re often really going to have any sort of plans, and it’s no fun just sitting at home or not having anything special going on.

This year instead of planning a party, I just planned a few little meals with smaller groups of friends, which should be a lot of fun. Last night I went out to dinner with my family to celebrate my mom’s and my birthday (Hers is the 2nd!), and today I woke up and Skyped with Robert while I opened his present — which was a Petzi! I’m pretty stoked to use it, as I often wish I could text Macy when I’m away from her. Do any of you ever feel like there should be a way to text your dog? This is probably as close as you can get to that!

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Macy’s eyes always say, “Don’t leave, Mom!” when I put my coat on to go out.

This afternoon was super fun too, as my best friend Audrey came over and brought a million gifts (including the BEST new Urban Decay lipstick palette, which I will have to do an entire blog post on), then we went to Starbucks to chat and drink peppermint hot chocolates. I already feel so spoiled today and I still have a little dinner to go to tonight, and then a brunch with some of my great girl friends tomorrow!

Last year’s birthday was kind of tough for a lot of reasons, but this one has already been amazing, even if it were to end now. This taught me a very good lesson that if you want to do something fun, just plan it! You don’t need someone else to ask your friends to get together or whatever; I felt kind of rude at first asking people to celebrate my birthday with me, but after the fact I’ve realized that in the exact same way I love celebrating my friends,they’re happy to come together to celebrate me, too!

I’ll definitely write another blurb after this evening and then brunch tomorrow, too, but as for now I’m gonna go rest up a little bit. POTS kind of has my head spinning!

Boyfriends And Birthdays

I think by now I’ve written enough that you all know I am a flawed human being. I make mistakes on a regular basis, and I sometimes own up to them on here.

Today I am going to write about something I actually am kind of ashamed to admit. I used to measure how much my boyfriend loved me by what he would get me for my birthday… Or Christmas, or Valentine’s day. Yep, that’s about it.

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You see, I haven’t dated the right kind of guy for the way my heart loves in the past. I’m someone who feels loved when someone spends time doing something for me. Some of the best gifts I have given and received from loved ones have included scrapbooks, beautifully written letters, and such perfectly tailored “Krista presents” that I just know the person spent a lot of time trying to figure out what to get me. One of my biggest love languages is gift giving, and it’s never about the money spent, but it’s all about the thought put behind the gift (Or — my favorite — the words written in a card).

This year is different, though. This year I am with someone who I absolutely positively know from the bottom of my heart cares about me and loves me to my core. He shows me in his actions and tells me every day how much he cares.

Instead of (cringe) having my best friend “help” my boyfriend pick something out because he didn’t know my style or would wait until the last minute to make a Target run otherwise, I was 100% genuine when I told Robert that he didn’t need to get me anything this year, and that I just wanted him to come home. Even though he did end up mailing me something (Which I will still wait to open until tomorrow!), I would have been completely happy getting a Skype call and a sweet note on December 3rd. My heart has never felt so content with someone the way it feels with him.

I’ve learned that if you’re with a person who really gets you and knows how to make you feel loved, that the whole “love language” thing isn’t such a big deal anymore. It still matters, but doesn’t dictate the entirety of your relationship because you feel safe and secure. You know your person is thinking about you, even if you can’t talk every single day or do the whole “good morning” and “goodnight” texting. I used to think that I needed a man who would do those things for me every single day. After all, sending a text only takes about a minute, I would reason to myself. My boyfriend should certainly be able to do that for me every day!

Holy crap is it amazing not worrying about little things like that anymore! Until I started writing tonight I haven’t realized in the fourteen months we’ve been dating* Robert doesn’t typically send me those texts — yet I know that every morning when he wakes up he’ll think of me, and the same goes for falling asleep at night. I no longer need a set routine to feel loved, and I don’t  read into every little thing my boyfriend does or doesn’t do to know that he cares about me. I just know. No matter what happens, this is the kind of relationship I want for my future. I want someone who makes love feel easy, and someone who makes me feel secure in our relationship so that when little things fall out of place they don’t rock us. Life is long, messy, and has its fair share of ups and downs. Why make something like love more complicated than it needs to be? Forget about the rules Cosmopolitan creates to “make your relationship fulfilling,” and find someone who makes love seem so easy that when times do get hard you have a solid foundation to stay afloat on.

Today’s lesson: If little things like not getting a “good morning” text every day bother you immensely, please take a minute really think about your relationship. Is he treating you the way you would like your best friend to be treated? Is he treating you the way you treat the people you love? Do you feel loved in this relationship — not just on holidays and special days, but on sick days, and on Mondays? If the answer is “No” to any of these, sit down and take fifteen minutes to really think about whether or not this seems to be a satisfying relationship. This is one of the scariest things you can do when you love someone and are attached to them, but if they’re not the right person for you letting them go sooner rather than later opens a door for the kind of love you do want in life. You never know when your person might pop into your life. Don’t be taken by someone who won’t be in your future to miss meeting someone who would be great there.


*I don’t know how long to say I’ve been dating Robert! Our first date was fifteen months ago, but we weren’t exclusive until a few months after that.

We’re Not Really Gilmore Girls

This past weekend I threw my best friend a surprise birthday for her 25th. It’s a really special birthday, so we decided to have a crazy night of dining and dancing our hearts out.

She finished grad school recently, so I added a “Grad Princess” sash to compliment her birthday tiara.

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We are both the exact same when we go out — we enjoy dancing, good music, and girl time. We don’t go out to meet guys and always dance with each other or in little groups with friends –old and new– instead of going solo with a stranger.

Anyway, I believe I’ve mentioned before that Audrey and I enjoy playing pranks on people. While we were eating dinner we decided it would be hilarious to tell everyone we met that I was her mom and that she had just graduated from high school. She and I both get a lot of crap for looking young, so the only hard part would be convincing people I was older than I actually am. Our plan was to tell everyone that Audrey had just turned 18 and that I was 33. I “gave birth to Audrey” when I was 15, and had been a teen mom.

There was one particular fellow who really believed us. Granted, he seemed kind of drunk, but said it was really cool that a mother-daughter duo had such a great relationship. He also ruined one of our selfies together:

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Audrey still somehow managed to get her sash in the pic.

Most of the guys we told this story to were skeptical, but ended up falling for it. Or so we thought! When I recounted this story to the guy I am dating he informed me that everyone definitely knew we were trying to fool them and that they were just being nice.

Educate me, please! Why wouldn’t guys have called us out if they didn’t believe our story? I would never go along with something the way they did and would’ve totally called their bluff!

I’m Glad To Know I Look Feverish When I Run.

Everyone seemed to like the last date review so much that I decided to do another one — this time I wanted to add a few goofy surprises to the mix instead of trying to plan the perfect date, though. Here is what my date wrote about our evening together:

A few weeks ago Krista asked if I would review a date that she planned and coordinated and my only job would be to write about it afterwards. I was excited and felt up to the task, so I gave her the go-ahead.

Other than me picking her up, she explained that she wanted to be the one to run the date. So around 6:30 I went to her house and let her take charge. When she got in the car we started talking. She was instructing me on our route without giving any insight into where we were heading. Now, I understand that she was doing her best to make sure I was heading in the right direction, but it wasn’t until six minutes and twenty four seconds into the date that she told me I looked nice. And she only did so after I told her how great she looked. So for the next ten minutes I was obviously self-conscious. Maybe I should have worn a nicer shirt?

After about 10 minutes of driving we turned into a shopping center and parked right in front of Otani Japanese Steak and Seafood restaurant. Otani is a hibachi restaurant that I was always interested in trying out but never had. As we were walking up to the door, Krista feverishly rushed ahead to hold the door open for me.  This is where some confusion set in… Just because she planned it didn’t mean she should have been the “dude” on the date. I guess it was my fault since I made a big deal about the six minute and twenty four second thing earlier.

Krista walked up to the hostess and gave her name for the reservation. They promptly sat us down at our own table. Now, having only had the whole hibachi experience on a vacation in another country, I am certainly no hibachi pro. Krista, knowing this, took full advantage.

When the waitress brought out our salads and soups, I noticed something “off” about the soup. It was essentially chicken broth with one mushroom and two noodles. That was it… Mushroom, noodles, chicken water. I told Krista, and expressed my lack of knowledge and experience as being a factor in me not knowing how to approach eating (drinking?)  that bowl. So she kindly (well, I thought she was being kind), explained to me how to eat the soup. You carefully pick the bowl up with both hands, bring it to your face, and drink it. Thanks, Krista! So I did as she said. Ignoring the large spoon they bring out with the soup that was apparently not supposed to be used to eat it, I brought the bowl up and drank some of it. Krista immediately started laughing. She laughed so loudly that a good majority of the restaurant looked over at me drinking my chicken broth soup. I was fooled!

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I managed to snap a photo of the incident.
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The culprit.

Finally it was time for our main course. The chef came over, did his impressive tricks with his knives and spatulas, and began cooking the rice. Then the Shrimp. Then the Chicken. Then the Steak and vegetables. My mouth is watering thinking back to it. As he was cooking, he began cutting little pieces of each of the meat.  He was about to toss some to me, and told me I had to catch it in my mouth. I could see the determination in his eyes to give me some difficult tosses, but I’ve never been one to back away from a challenge. He asked me if I was ready, and I confidently nodded my head, with an unwavering “yes.” The first shot was high but catch-able. It bounced off my nose, and Krista laughed hysterically as she took a video of the failed attempt. The second throw, also high, went right over my head. I had no chance.

His third toss, though not perfect, I miraculously caught.

Krista was up next. She looked at me and told me she’s never missed in this situation. Ever. I told her that sounds like an impressive streak and that I hope she didn’t jinx herself. She did. The toss bounced right off her face and onto the ground. As did the second toss. However, she caught the third attempt.

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The chef completed cooking the entire meal, and Krista and I chatted while we ate. The food was delicious, and I was very impressed with Krista’s choice of restaurant. She certainly earned some points for that.

It was finally time for dessert, which was where the big surprise came in. Out of nowhere the lights in the restaurant dimmed, disco lights began flashing, and I was surrounded by employees who began singing a hibachi version of “Happy Birthday.” My birthday isn’t until the end of March, so I was truly caught off guard. It turned out that a couple hours before we met up Krista brought balloons and cupcakes to the restaurant to hold there for our date.

The cupcakes were delicious, and the whole thing was extremely thoughtful. Though completely unnecessary and probably a little over the top considering it wasn’t even close to my birthday, I appreciated the planning and preparation that went in to this date.

Overall I had an awesome time. Krista knows what she’s doing when she plans a date, and I would certainly recommend anybody taking her up on the offer if it’s ever on the table for you to take. But keep in mind — after this great date, I plan on you having to compete with me. 😉