Man, I have a bad headache. I think it’s from my neck pain. Typically when it gets bad enough it goes straight up my vertebrae to the top of my head. Ugh!
I’m currently really in the mood to write, but not really equipped to sit at my computer that long right now. I also can’t think straight because of the aforementioned headache. I figured I’d tell y’all what I’ve been working on lately, though. I’ve been doing some more deep writing lately. I’m going to be posting about anxiety, social media, and how problematic I think Hollywood has become. Please hold me accountable to this. None of it is very fun to share, but I think it’s all important and there is a reason I’ve felt pushed to write about it.
I’m also working on creating a weekly email you guys can subscribe to — so I don’t have to do random little updates like this on here anymore. I am undecided between MailChimp and Constant Contact. Any thoughts on either?
Finally, I have a few recipes and shopping trips that are begging to be posted. Sadly, my local Trader Joe’s hasn’t gone crazy with pumpkin stuff this year and I’m just not feeling most of it. I got Jax some pumpkin biscuits the other day, but I haven’t gone crazy yet. There’s still plenty of time for that though, right?
Today happens to be a very POTSie day. Luckily, dizzy spells are much fewer and further between, but I hate when they decide to come around with a vengeance. I have been doing a new exercise protocol lately that is supposed to make me feel worse before I feel better, but I am optimistic about how much it could help me in the long run.*
Anyway, I am currently working on a post about what my POTS timeline has looked like, and the improvements I’ve made, as well as the things that are still different in my life post getting sick. It’s been so interesting for me to look back at different things I wrote throughout the years, but is great to have something tangible to look at regarding my life.
Certain things are becoming more normal, and I am pulling off looking like a normal human being like a pro. I have looked pretty normal since getting sick with POTS, since it’s an invisible illness, but I used to have to ask for help much more often. Now I think people around me often forget completely that anything is wrong with me! I hope one day this will be true. Despite being sick for over five years now, I will never stop hoping to get back to complete normalcy. I have a million different things I’m working on for the blog, so today I wanted to just touch on a few things that have been different for me the past half-decade.
1. I can’t enjoy taking showers. Sometimes I hop in a hot shower just because I am in pain and want something to release the tension in my muscles, but for the most part they’re just exhausting. I usually choose between washing my hair or shaving if I’m going to stand the whole time, and have to alternate between the two or rest quite a bit longer after I’m done. Does anyone actually find showers enjoyable? I can’t remember anymore; now they’re just exhausting.
2. I’m not very extroverted anymore. Before I got POTS, I was super extroverted. I was always around people and had an enormous circle of friends. Mentally, I still want to be doing a million things, but my body isn’t up to that. I feel tired and drained from doing too much, so I don’t go out nearly as much as I used to. When I do, it’s usually dinner or dessert with just one or a few friends, rather than hanging out in a giant group. When I first got sick I really couldn’t do anything other than try to stay optimistic, rest, and work as hard as possible to take care of my body so I could hopefully get better one day. I think some of my friends who weren’t around might have felt like I was neglecting our friendship, but in reality I just couldn’t function. I have lost touch with people I sometimes still miss. Getting sick really does show you who is going to be around for the long haul, and makes you see who has unconditional love for your friendship.
3. I miss writing for hours on end. My favorite thing in the world has always been writing, even back in elementary school or high school when writing wasn’t supposed to be fun. I always said English was my favorite subject, even when other kids would say “lunch,” “recess,” or “gym.” I loved learning more about our language and how to write things that people would enjoy reading. It’s difficult for me to sit at a computer and type for hours without feeling it after, and then being in a lot of pain for days after. I am very slowly working on endurance, and hope to be writing more and more.
4. I miss being a helper. Before I got POTS I was independent and strong. I loved helping other people in any way I could, and was always there to do acts of service. There is nothing I hate more than having to swallow my pride and ask others for help. I’ve had to do that a lot the past few years, and it honestly doesn’t get much easier. I hate inconveniencing others, and I have a really hard time telling people I need something. I am still working on communicating better, but in the meantime I use my writing as an outlet.
5. I wish I could have my old dreams back. I dreamt of living in New York City as a magazine editor, and thought about how many lives I would change through my writing. I wanted to be able to support myself, pay my parents back for school, and afford my own life. I wanted to keep pushing myself and training for another half marathon, and I wanted to collect a million new skills from the new people I’d meet.
I have set new and more realistic goals, and am focusing on getting my body in shape so I can reach higher. Despite my life being much more complicated now, it’s also somehow become more simple. I realize how much I value the people who are in my life, and how important they are compared to everything else in the world. I’ve learned to appreciate the many blessings I do have, and how to live in the moment better. I still feel like I’m looking to find my purpose in the world, but I also trust God now more than ever to have better plans for me than I ever did for myself. I’m just trying to figure out what that is now.
*For any POTSies who are curious, I am doing the Levine protocol.
One of my resolutions this year is to read one book a month. It isn’t a lot, but it’s realistic, so any extra reads will be a great bonus. For January, I chose Girl, Wash Your Face. It was interesting timing because I recently saw a Facebook post in a group going around talking about how Rachel Hollis’ book, GWYF, was close-minded and uptight. I hadn’t read it at the time I saw the argument going on, but I was surprised that so many girls from this group of typically very accepting people had such hard feelings toward the author of GWYF, so I became increasingly curious as to what fired people up about this bestselling author.
My best friend Audrey gave me the audiobook for my birthday last month, and I’ve finally listened to more than half of it. I feel compelled to write about it now, though, because while listening I have had several moments where I want to throw my hands up and scream, “YES. THIS IS HOW I FEEL!” It’s such a joy to find novels, blogs, and television shows that just get you. In a world that feels so incredibly big, it’s always comforting to know there are other people who have things in common with you. Whether it’s your beliefs, sense of humor, hobbies, or interests, knowing that you aren’t alone is so important for every human being.
I am sick of the old narrative that says just because someone is living their life a different way than the majority, that they are a judgmental bigot. One of the biggest criticisms I saw floating around was that Hollis wasn’t relatable because her ideas about sex weren’t realistic. Spoiler alert: she waited to have sex until she was with her husband. Something that bothers me is that there is no place in the entertainment world for virgins or people who want to save sex for someone special. Hollis is in no way the names girls called her; she is just different than what the norm of the group posts about.
Just because Rachel held her virginity close to her own heart does not mean she is shaming others for having sex with multiple people. I absolutely hate that women can’t talk about this freely without being criticized for being close-minded or a prude. Women in this typically nonjudgmental group began talking about how the author seemed condescending and high-strung. Honestly, I can see how Girl Wash Your Face might not be relatable to everyone, but I didn’t get this vibe at all. There is a reason this book became a bestseller; there are so many women out there who can relate and feel a lot less alone while consuming Hollis’ words. There is a need for women to speak out about virginity and waiting to have sex because they exist too. Instead of continuing the narrative that these women are boring, uptight, and judgmental, we need to move to a safe middle ground of realizing that sexual preferences do not make a person or dictate what their personality is like. Sex is a verb, it isn’t an adjective that describes what a person is like at their core.
Hollis actually has an entire chapter about sex and I absolutely loved it. I don’t think anyone would actually keep calling her the names they’ve bestowed upon her after reading it, and her views on being intimate are actually really healthy. She talks about the way she views sex, and she isn’t boring or vanilla in the least. She writes about different seasons through her sex life with her husband and the realistic ebb and flow that most people will experience. This is just another opportunity Hollis takes to talk about something that could be difficult for some of her readers, and help them see that they are — in fact — normal human beings.
Women who choose to keep sex as something for a monogamous relationship or for marriage need to feel less alone too. We have moved to a time in society where we know that you’re not a bad person for sleeping with multiple people. We accept being sexually active as a societal norm, and as long as you’re a normal human being you don’t shame other people for their preferences. This should include the young people who are saving themselves for one person, though. There aren’t many positive examples of people like this in the media. You don’t watch a television show and see a badass virgin who has a likable personality and is someone others look up to. Talking about someone being a virgin in the media is typically not done, and if it is, it is portraying a young girl losing her virginity to “become an woman” or honing in on the storyline of a lack of sex for a nerdy character. You don’t see normal twenty-something virgins in movies or on television — in Hollywood, they don’t exist. In the real world, though, they do. They are normal people who just haven’t done the deed yet, and I think we need to do a better job of acknowledging that you aren’t broken if you haven’t had those experiences yet. Sex is a beautiful thing that shouldn’t be taboo to talk about, but it also should never be used to shame someone for their lack of experience either.
Imagine making fun of someone for running — or not. Picture judging their personality solely on being a runner, not based on anything else like how friendly they are, how kind they are, or how smart they are. Running an activity that people often enjoy or never participate in; it doesn’t dictate what they’re like as a person. Sex is the same concept. You don’t suddenly change drastically because you are sexually active; you just have a new activity in your life. Sex is fun, and an incredible way to connect with someone you love, but it isn’t something that will change the core of your being.
If you haven’t read GWYF yet, I highly recommend it. It’s a light read and Rachel is an awesome motivational speaker — it feels like she’s just a friend offering advice. I love her little words of wisdom on Instagram, and am obsessed with this quote she attributes to her therapist,
“Someone else’s opinion of you is none of your business.”
I think we can all learn a little lesson from this on fearlessly being ourselves. Many of our biggest fears stem from what other people think about us. This year I’m trying my best to put my blinders on and share my thoughts without worrying about the opinions of others. I think this is going to be the best way to really connect with people, even though I might also reach some people who just don’t understand my heart. Subscribe to my email list to get some extra premium content this year! I have a lot to say and am excited to be sharing more with you all.
131. That’s how many pieces I have written and that are waiting to be posted, but I just can’t find the heart to share. Most of my writing is really pretty simple. I write about dating when a friend comes and asks for advice, because I love giving it and trying to help other people feel confident and secure in the dating world. I write about POTS when I am having a particularly bad — or sometimes good — day, and I write about the way other people treat me with this problem that is so misunderstood. Then, I have a couple deeper posts that I am just waiting to work up the guts to publish.
Part of the problem is going back and editing through everything. Several of my entries have general ideas and thoughts in them, but aren’t completed. They are skeletons of blog posts, and need some meat on their bones to help them make sense and tell a story. Others just feel hollow and my heart doesn’t feel up to working on them. Two, though, pierce deep down into my heart and make it beat fast when I think about opening up. Using the words that are deep down in your soul can be scary because they expose your darkest secrets or insecurities people would never guess you are dealing with. Luckily, I don’t have that many “secrets,” as I am a pretty open book, and there isn’t a lot of darkness in my life, so I’d file my posts under “Insecurities” in the glaringly obvious ways I am different.
Today, though, I’m tired. I still don’t feel like working on my writing, and I have been so wrapped up in wedding planning and health stuff lately that I have only posted on here two times this month. I want to write and share every single detail of the little and big things that happen in my day-to-day, but I’ve also seen the dangers of speaking loudly for all to hear online. Tonight I am going to work on a post about POTS that I drafted a few weeks ago after a Taylor Swift concert. I’ll share something that can be really hard on my heart, because I think so many people with all kinds of disabilities will be able to relate. Sometimes the most meaningful thing in the world is to feel like you are actually understood — and that you aren’t alone. As much as it sucks sometimes, the Internet is really cool because you can always find someone with the exact same things you struggle with. I still think writing is something I am meant to do, so I’ll stop being selfish and start sharing again, even if I’m feeling worn out. I think today I just needed to write and feel like I am creating again, even if it’s a silly, rambly blog post.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 isa very important job. Keep practicing what you do best and giving back to the world with your own unique talents.
Who else was excited that Ed Sheeran got engaged this weekend?! I was super excited for a few reasons. First, I absolutely love love. I want every single person in this world to be happy, and falling in love is something I think can really add a different element of brightness to your life. Second, I am stoked to hear all the new music he comes out with now. One of my favorite things about listening to artists I really enjoy is knowing who songs can be about. Taylor’s breakup music is fun, but the tracks about being in love and spilling her heart out in words is incomparably beautiful. I am excited to learn more about Ed’s fiancée, Cherry. Lastly, I like having a face to put to his song Perfect. The lyrics are some of the sweetest I’ve heard, and I absolutely love that he wrote such an amazing song for the girl he wants to spend forever with. That is just the “cherry” on top of the most wonderful words that have been put together.
Oh my gosh, this really gets the waterworks going. As if I needed any other reasons to love this song, knowing that each and every word written is real and raw makes me so, so happy. Something I enjoy most is knowing that the feelings in Perfect are real and raw. Being a fellow writer — though far less eloquent — I know exactly what it’s like to feel like your heart is about to burst and overflow with all the love it’s trying to contain. I also know very well that the only outlet for us to really express a deep love is putting pen to paper. Even though I don’t really know Sheeran, I feel like I’ve gotten a peek into his heart, and he’s been able to bring up my own feelings and experiences, despite being really descriptive about his own, too.
I know that there’s significance behind “dancing in the dark,” and that they’re not just meant to be carefully crafted lyrics. I know that there was a night where he whispered, “darling you look perfect tonight,” and I can picture him blushing happily while dancing with his sweet new fiancée.
These memories bring up my own. I think about dancing to Sheeran at a friend’s wedding with my own significant other. I think about how perfect that moment was, and going home to write this in my journal:
“Our first dance together was magical. We smiled at the newly wed couple happily, and our eyes danced as they met one another. We knew we were thinking the exact same thing; we are similar in so many ways, and we both feel touched deeply by true love — though Robert might not as openly admit that.
We swayed back and forth and I got lost in the twinkle in his eyes. For a moment I felt a little self-conscious that we were having such a moment in front of other people, but my nerves were quickly put at ease when I realized how comfortable Robert was. The way he was looking at me I knew he was peering deep down into my soul, and our two moving bodies became one. My heart hadn’t ever felt so warm, loved, and bright as it did in that very moment. It was as if all the love that had ever been in our relationship was piled into this one dance, and I didn’t want it to end.
‘I guess our first dance is to Ed Sheeran,’ Robert observed. His eyes were still smiling at me, and the twinkling lights in the barn around us were just background noise; he was the star of my show. ‘I don’t hate it.’
We continued to sway to the sweet lyrics until the song ended. I didn’t want it to come to end, but I also knew in a way it wouldn’t. I would have this in my heart forever, and that dance will be one of my favorite memories of us for the rest of my life.”
I remember having a feeling of pure bliss because of how innocent and special sharing a slow dance with the love of your life is. I think further back to being pulled close in the kitchen and listening to his heart beat while we swayed back and forth to silence. I wonder if he remembers this too, or if these moments are only preserved in my own heart and journals from before the deployment.
Writing, to me, is the most beautiful love language. Words of Affirmation aren’t listed as my #1 love language, but they are the most special to me in so many ways. They can make my heart sink or soar, and I use them to share my deepest thoughts and feelings with others. I have screenshotted text messages from years ago that made me so happy that I couldn’t imagine just letting them disappear into thin air. I save every note someone who is special in my life sends to me, and I treasure certain words that are said in my heart forever.
I want to collect thousands of “I love you’s,” and hearing about what I mean to someone is the best gift that could be given in this world. I look at words as being sacred pieces of the heart, and despite using the “L” word freely, it also means very different things to each person in my life. When it comes to romantic love, there is only one person in the world who hears “I love you” in the giddy way that will always signify true love, and for me, that person is Robert.
Congratulations to Ed and Cherry; they’re definitely going to be people I ‘ship while wedding planning and thinking about how beautifully special two people coming together to create a life with one another is. I can’t wait for the next sweet single to come out, and in the meantime I’ll continue gently taking words from my own heart to keep writing about the things I love in this life.