My Journal Entries

I’m going to be honest with you guys. I’ve had bad writer’s block lately. Partly because I can’t think of what to write about, but the other part is that I’m scared to write about what my heart is calling me to. Writing in 2017 is different than twenty years ago because of how many people you can reach on a little platform like this. I don’t have over 1,000 friends in real life, so where are all of my readers coming from? Not everyone who follows this little corner of the Internet knows my heart, so I feel like I need to be careful to not collect labels from strangers. On the other hand, though, I shouldn’t care what people think if they’re wrong. I know my heart, and more importantly the Creator of the universe does. He knows my heart’s greatest desire is to love and be loved, and that I care deeply about every human I meet — even if we don’t become friends.

From today on, I’m going to try to open my heart more to you all. This space shouldn’t have room for pride, and I think more people can relate to my own life than I would imagine. Be patient with me and I’ll slowly continue to open up more; that is, as much as I can while still giving the people who have been a part of my story the privacy they deserve.


To start, I can offer a little peek into what I’ve been up to lately. Drum roll, please…

SUMMER CLEANING!

I’m trying to get rid of all the clutter in my life, and it’s proven to be a pretty big task. The other day was my biggest purge so far. I found flare jeans in the back of my closet, my homecoming dress, and a million and one letters from pen pals. I also found all of the journals I’ve kept since I was in elementary school. It was hilarious reading the older ones, and really fascinating reading the journals I kept in college.

On our fourth or fifth date Robert gave me a really beautiful leather journal. He told me that he was just thinking about me while he was at drill in Staunton, Virginia, and went shopping during his time off to get me a little gift. Robert never forgot to remind me that I was special, even in the very beginning of our relationship, and I liked that he spoke my love language of gift giving.

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I just finished the last page of that journal last week, and it was incredible seeing the difference between entries I wrote about guys in my past, versus the way I write about Robert. Robert is someone I’ve never wondered about or questioned if we’re supposed to be dating or not. We’ve definitely been through our fair share of hardships — much of my journal’s pages were filled during the deployment — but I’ve never once wanted to leave this relationship or face my trials with anyone else. Life isn’t always easy, but it certainly brings you peace knowing you’re fighting through hardships with the right person.


Some of the next things I will be writing about are when to — and not to — listen to your friends about your dating life, a few things you should definitely feel about your significant other, and how to make a relationship flow as smoothly as possible. Thank you for being patient while I dig myself out of this little writing rut!

“I Can’t Wait Until Tomorrow”

How many times have you heard someone utter the words, “I can’t wait until tomorrow,” “I can’t wait until Friday,” or “I hate Mondays?” I find myself saying this on days I feel sick, lonely, or even just bored.

Somehow the future is always more bright, beautiful, and easier than today. Nobody warned us that there would still be trials, loss, and unplanned twists and turns where you least expect them. That being said, why do we still always hope for tomorrow to come, even when we have so many blessings today? I think a big part of it has to do with boredom. It’s hard to sit still and have a mundane schedule and so much easier to “live for today” when today is exciting and great.

Getting sick with POTS really opened my eyes to the harder parts of life. One of the most difficult lessons I’ve learned is that the future isn’t promised, and some dreams may never come true. You know what else I learned from these lessons, though? That this is all okay! I learned that you have the opportunity to grow and learn from trials, and that you can always handle so much more than you realize. I learned that sometimes the hardest thing you have to go through can turn into the biggest blessing you’ve ever had, and that God’s plan for you is even better than what you have planned for yourself. Finally, I learned that sometimes all you can do is take life one day at a time, and focusing too much on the future can actually be harmful when you are dealing with a particularly difficult trial.

Instead, on the harder days I try my best to list my blessings. If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve surely seen my “Five Blessings” posts. This was the most recent one:

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Instead of having the mindset that life is going to be better tomorrow, count the blessings you have today. Don’t get me wrong; it can be really hard sometimes, but if you can find even just one thing to be grateful for, life quickly feels a little bit easier. Sometimes you need to just take baby steps, even if it’s just counting your blessings — one day at a time.


Update: Still trying to change my domain to KristaLauren.com, but it’s taking forever because I need technical help and it hasn’t been the biggest priority on my list. Keep in mind this site will be changing, though!

Pup Cups & PT

I’ve been a little MIA on this blog lately for a few reasons. First, because we have a new puppy in the family, and Jax has kept us all incredibly busy… Which also means I’m trying to spend more quality time with my sweet little Macy so she feels included!

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I’m making sure Jax knows how important snuggle time is.
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Robert and I took him to the farm for his first swim last week… He had a blast!
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After that, Robert took Macy and I out on an ice cream date so that she could feel special too!

Second, I’ve been working on a few little projects that I’ll be ready to announce on here this fall. Nothing too crazy, but you’ll see why my time has been occupied and a bit away from blogging. I’ve also still been dealing with my arm pain, so physical therapy and my exercises take up a lot of energy.

Third, I’ve been focusing on building a team of other young women for my Rodan + Fields business. It’s been a blast getting coffee and lunch with friends and discussing how they fit in to my new small business. I’ve been so thrilled with all the support friends and family have shown already, and am so excited to keep adding to my team.

Lastly, I’ve still been catching up on spending time with Robert. Ten months was a really long time to be gone, and even though he’s only been home for five months it’s felt like we’ve packed a lot of quality time in together. We’ve gone to a few weddings together, watched a bunch of summer movies, and enjoy cooking out and relaxing at his new home. Time is the most valuable thing I have on this earth, and I’m so happy to be able to spend it on him and my loved ones. Life is such a beautiful thing, and I’m blessed to have so many great people in mine.

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Busy Bee

Ahhh guys, I have an exciting announcement I will be making next week!

There are two projects I’ve been working on, and I will be writing about the second project incredibly soon. I have put a lot of thought and work into it, and I really can’t wait to share.

I feel bad that I’ve neglected this blog a little lately, I’ve just been so darn busy and only have so much arm strength to push forward. My POTS symptoms have gone haywire lately too, so I’ve needed a lot more rest and recovery time for everything. Thank you for still visiting Single in The Suburbs, and I will update you all SOON! ❤

What To Do When You Get Diagnosed With A Chronic Illness

Getting sick with a chronic condition is life-changing and confusing. I have become a bit of a pro when it comes to being sick, so here are a few tips on what to do if you or someone you love ever get diagnosed with a chronic illness:

  1. First and foremost, do not panic. Take a second to breathe, and realize that just because you now have a name to label your symptoms doesn’t mean it’s going to get worse here on out. If anything it actually gets much better since you are able to explain why certain things happen to your body and how to treat them.
  2. Realize that it’s normal and okay to cry. Doctors have seen it all, and if they’re good at their profession they will be sympathetic towards your feelings (And if they’re not, it’s definitely not you — it’s them).
  3. Do not go on Google! I cannot stress how important it is to process everything before reading dozens of articles and Facebook forums about your illness. Whether it’s an absolutely extreme version of your illness or a post venting about how difficult life becomes with this condition, there isn’t a lot that will help you out that very same day. Give yourself a little time and ask your doctor questions, rather than relying on WebMD to give you a cure. I found that negativity can really have a direct effect on your health and healing, which is why I try to keep things as stress-free as humanly possible.Screen Shot 2017-03-20 at 1.54.29 PM.png
  4. On a related note, make sure to find out how to contact your doctor in case you need to reach someone with a question about symptoms you might be having. Most doctors who deal with people with chronic conditions have a way of reaching them, whether it’s a nurse hotline or an email address. I have a neurologist who offers an in-home service where I can email him with questions or prescription refill requests, and he replies within a day. It’s been a really valuable resource and I tend to stick with the doctors who really care about their patients.
  5. If a little bit of time goes by and you’re still afraid to research what you have, ask a family member or friend to do some research for you — then leave out the really unhelpful negative information. I’ve found a lot of people with chronic conditions can be incredibly pessimistic and bitter — and they have every right to be! But the more you can try to keep your spirits high and look towards your bright future, the better off you will be. I very firmly believe in the power of positive thinking, and although that may not be able to heal your body, it can at least keep your mind in a healthy state.
  6. If you do have a hard time staying positive about life, though, there is absolutely no shame in seeing a therapist or counselor to vent your frustrations to. Never feel bad about needing extra help. It doesn’t mean you aren’t strong — sometimes I think being able to ask for help is the hardest thing a person can do, but it can be life-changing.
  7. Lastly, be open with friends and family about what you need. It can be difficult for loved ones to know how to react or behave when someone close to them gets sick, but that doesn’t mean they don’t want to be there for you. Giving people a very concrete thing they could do to help — such as talking on the phone for fifteen minutes a day or making a meal for you and your family — is actually really helpful.
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I never in a million years thought I would ever need a wheelchair at 22 years old, but by the time I traveled to take this picture I was able to make light of a difficult situation.

I know how scary and life-changing getting a chronic illness is. I remember getting diagnosed with POTS like it was yesterday. Collecting a few other “syndromes” and conditions along the way hasn’t been easy, but I’ve at least had enough experience to stay a little calmer when I learn something new about my health. Finding five things you are thankful for despite being sick is something I try to do on my most difficult days. I am thankful for my family (This includes Macy!), Robert, my best friends, the sunshine, and chocolate. That was a really easy list, and I grouped a bunch of people together. Despite not having the life I had dreamed of for most of my childhood, I still have some pretty incredible blessings.

Putting Pen To Paper

One reason I think my writing sometimes speaks to people is that I feel so deeply. I sometimes joke that my feelings are as strong as Taylor Swift’s, but I think creative people are often just wired like this.

When I posted my story about forgiveness the other day, my friend Kristie said something that resonated with me. She said that I know how to put words to feelings. This has actually been something that has scared me in the past because I do think I know how to put pen to paper and explain the way I feel about things. I’m not extraordinary at a lot of things, but I definitely know all about feelings. On top of that, I’m not so scared about what people think anymore that I have trouble posting my intimate thoughts.

So, why is this a scary combination? Because I’m afraid of what God has in store for me. Writing and openness is a gift, but it’s terrifying because I don’t want to go through the hardships it takes to relate to others. Now that I’ve been through some of the scary stuff — like depression and chronic illness — I love that I can share my stories to help others, but I want it to end there. I enjoy writing about love and exciting twentysomething things and want to do that instead of writing about the things that hurt. I don’t want to ever have to write about how heartbreaking a deployment is again. I don’t want to deal with illness or loss anymore, and I don’t want to ever hurt deep down to my core ever again.

I know life isn’t perfect and that we’re meant to hurt sometimes in this world. Some people have it harder than others, and often times life is absolutely not fair. There are ups and downs, and nobody in the world has a completely easy and constantly fulfilling life. We all struggle, whether it’s with something catastrophic or minor stresses. As long as you’re alive pain is inevitable, but the way we deal with it and use it to lift others up is what really matters. The message I really want to get across in this is that life and love is worth the pain we have to deal with. You always have someone who loves you (And if you don’t feel that way, please message me and I will absolutely be there for each and every one of you!), and you matter in this world.

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Today’s lesson: Your pain and heartache can be used for good. Sometimes you’ll never know why something bad happens to you, but other times you can look back and realize the purpose was to help you grow. Having a chronic illness has made me more empathetic, kind, and compassionate than I ever was before. Dealing with depression has given me new insight to how others might be hurting and makes me want to write about my past and my feelings to help others feel less alone — and to show that even the most heartbreaking of things can be overcome. I still don’t have everything all figured out, but I am trying to use my pain and heartache to connect with others and wrap my readers in a gentle, virtual hug. You may not know why you are struggling today, but please always keep fighting. You never know who you might be impacting with your life and what kind of incredible plans God has for your future.

No Longer Single In The Suburbs

As y’all know I haven’t been single for a long time now, and when I first created this website I thought I wouldn’t be in a relationship for a pretty long time. The joke was on me, though, because I met someone really great a lot faster than I anticipated.

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Guys. This is us on a date… IRL!! It’s seriously so nice living right down the road from one another.

Single In The Suburbs is always going to be a part of my brand, but it’s time for me to change to something that’s going to reflect my life today and for years to come.

I’ve been meaning to do this for a long time, as I’ve been resting on my new domain, and I finally finished saving all my drafts and posts just in case something terrible happens when I change websites… Which is probably good because I’m having so much trouble trying to figure out how to get my darn WordPress site to connect to my new URL (I’d like to give a shoutout to my blogging friend Rosie, though, for giving me some encouragement with this big change, as she just did the same thing last week!).

So if you’re having trouble accessing my website, you’re definitely not the only one. I can’t see it anymore either, so I am going to bring in the big guns and get my brother to help me with this mess later this week. My site might be down for a couple of days, but I will absolutely be back! After that you won’t find me on the “Single In The Suburbs” WordPress anymore… You’ll be redirected to my new Dating and Lifestyle website, KristaLauren.com. 🙂

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Strong (adj.)

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

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

Dictionary.com defines strong as,

“Mentally powerful or vigorous,”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No, You’re Schmoopie!

Sometimes I feel like I’m pulling a “Schmoopie” when I write about my dating life

Sadly I have realized not everyone in my generation has seen Seinfeld, so here’s a clip if you have no clue what I’m talking about:

It definitely takes a lot for me to share such intimate parts of my life on this blog sometimes. I know I’m taking a risk at putting my heart on my sleeve in front of all my friends (including my new blogger friends!), and I know not all of my relationships — romantic or otherwise — that I write about will last. I do, however, always want my blog to be an honest account of my life. I want to be transparent with y’all through the bad times and through the good, which just happens to be the beginning honeymoon phase of a new relationship, the comfortable parts of a longer-term relationship, and the vulnerable parts about putting your heart in the hands of another human being.

I love love in every form, whether it’s in a friendship or a romantic relationship. As I have mentioned before, I think I’m one of the few people who gets giddy with excitement when I see even a distant Facebook friend get engaged or have a sappy status. I love seeing new jobs, dreams come true, and celebrating in the victories of friends — no matter how great or small.

Sometimes it gets a little annoying when people proclaim their love to one another constantly on Facebook — can you not say “I love you” via text? For the most part, though, I hope my friends will keep posting a million wedding pictures and sharing in their excitement with me and everyone else. After all, that is by far the best part about social media, and the more love we put out in the world the less room we have for hate. That is the best lesson we can learn, especially during this crazy time in America where the country — and even Facebook — feels so divided and confused.

So I would like to encourage you to keep sharing photos of your GNOs, engagement photoshoots, and selfies that make you feel fierce. If people don’t like seeing the happy parts of your life, the “unfollow” button is really easy to find. Spread happiness, joy, and beautiful friendships on social media, even if they don’t rack up as many “likes” as you’d want… After all, your social media pages are yours for a reason!

Today’s lesson: I have found that being open and vulnerable has enriched my life in so many ways. Not only do I have so many friends to share excitement with, but I also have an army of support when life gets tough, and have been able to learn from people who have very different lives than my own. So here’s to being authentic and spreading love and positivity in the world.

The Single Best Dating Tip For Girls

Keep your friends close.

I bet y’all never saw that one coming. I know, I know — it doesn’t seem like it has anything to do with dating, but let me elaborate.

Time and time again people get a new significant other and go into the vicious cycle of getting starry eyes that are only for their SO, set into reality, realize they do, in fact, need friends, and trying in a half ditch effort to have fun with other girls again.

There are a few solid reasons I strongly believe in staying close in your friendships, rather than dropping them only to pick up again when it becomes convenient.

First, trust is a key component in any relationship, even with friends. By remaining close when you get a new boyfriend you are showing her that you’ll be there for her through thick and thin — and in turn, she’ll be there for you when you need someone as well!

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Second, if you think about it realistically I hate to burst your bubble, but many relationships in your teens or early twenties don’t work out for the long run. I know, I know, there are plenty of high school sweethearts. When you look at the numbers, though, more people go through breakups than marry their first love, so the odds are not ever in your favor. They could be with a friend, though! There isn’t a limit to the number of friends you are allowed to have, even if there is a cap at “1” for a boyfriend. Don’t throw away something beautiful like a forever friend for a boyfriend who may or may not be there for you in the long run.

Third, girl time is sacred! There are certain things you just can’t have as much fun doing with your boyfriend… Some of those include shopping for the perfect cocktail dress, getting mani pedis, helping your girl swipe through her Bumble account, and gushing about how cute your boyfriend is. Let’s be real, we love our guys, but they can only take so many compliments before getting a big head about it! 😛

I can think of a hundred reasons I need my girl friends no matter what season of life I am in. The friendships I have mean the world to me, and I would never give up any of them just to get a guy. An added bonus to this is that your guy will love that you are independent and have your own things going on. It’s so healthy to stay balanced and have some activities separate from your man… After all, your crazy adventures apart will make for some great date conversations.

Today’s lesson: When my ex of 5 years and I broke up I was SO relieved that I hadn’t given up my friends for a romantic relationship. From day one of us dating I made the decision to have a great relationship in addition to the other relationships in my life, rather than in place of my friendships. Although many of my friends thought my ex and I were going to last, we didn’t — but my friendships did, and I was so thankful for every single girl who helped me get through my first bad breakup. It would have been so much harder being by myself and having to rebuild my relationships again… Plus in those 5 years I was still able to cherish so many great memories with friends that my ex was not involved in! Instead of only remembering him when I look back on my college years I have a million other wonderful memories too — many of which are shared with some of my current best friends.