Let’s Talk About Sex

That’s a headline I’m sure grabbed your attention. I try my best to keep this blog very PG/PG-13. If you know me in person you know this isn’t at all difficult for me. I don’t usually curse (Unless I get frightened, stub my toe, or something bad happens in a competitive game of Mario Kart), and I throw around the word “inappropriate” for a decent amount of the shows you see on TV.

Sex isn’t something that I talk about very often, and although I am happy to speak to friends about it freely, it isn’t something I would typically like to touch on in my little corner of the internet. After logging onto SnapChat for the first time in months, though, I feel like I want to speak out to some of my younger readers. Heck, maybe some of my twentysomething readers will even be able to relate. I was certainly a late bloomer — I didn’t have my first real boyfriend until I was 19 — so if there are any other Krista’s out there, you are not alone.

I’ve been wary to write about sex for a few reasons. First, because just about everyone I know reads this blog — including relatives and people I haven’t spoken with in years. There are people who I would cringe if I knew they read this. The second reason is incredibly selfish, though. I’m afraid of being judged. I don’t want to lose my readers who disagree with me, and I also don’t want people to think that I believe it’s my way or the highway. I have friends and family from all walks of life, and I couldn’t be prouder and happier for each and every one of them, no matter how they’re choosing to go about dating. My Single in The Suburbs family has been one that I’ve grown to love and care about deeply, and I never want to hurt anyone by the words I choose to piece together for a post.

What I don’t want to do, though, is keep quiet about a subject that makes so many people feel so alone. I’ve had interesting life experiences that have left me feeling by myself on both sides of the spectrum. I think I understand each twentysomething’s heart, and I’ve felt broken enough that I want to be able to share my experiences to better other people’s lives.


Anyway, back to SnapChat… Most of you probably already know that there are a bunch of pre-followed accounts on your Snap homepage. Some of those include Cosmopolitan, Buzzfeed, Self, and Esquire, to name a few. More than half of the stories that are preloaded on my feed are about sex. Whether it’s something like, “The Drunken Hookups You’re Happy to Forget,” “Bringing Him Home, And Blowing His Mind,” or “how to” instructions, the articles all scream the same thing. Sex is meant to be casual, it’s everywhere you look, and there aren’t any consequences for your one night stand. The pictures to get you to go to the story take everything a step further. This once-PG-app now has women in Victoria’s Secret lingerie sitting on men’s laps or lying in bed with a sultry look on their face — and they’re just dying for you to click on them.

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The media does a beautiful job of making sex look glamorous, carefree, and casual without taking note of the consequences that it can bring. It wants you to think that sex is purely physical, and there aren’t emotional strings that get tied up when you get that intimate with someone.

Friends and Seinfeld are two popular TV shows* a lot of us grew up watching, and though they are pretty mild, they are incredibly casual about the romantic encounters that take place. Jerry has dozens of girlfriends throughout the series, many of which have encounters with him that are later recounted to friends. There is an episode called, “The Virgin,” where the friends all discuss what it must be like for Jerry to be dating someone pretty who he’s not sleeping with. Someone on Reddit decided to count how many people the main characters of the beloved Friends slept with, and the number reaches almost 140.

Then we have shows like Sex And The City, How I Met Your Mother, and even Gossip Girl for young teens. Everything we watch has a common theme: most of the characters are having a lot of casual sex.

“Okay Krista, I get it, we watch sex on television. So what? Why are you so bothered? They’re all consenting adults and it isn’t even real.” This is what I’m imagining many of my friends are screaming back at me. I understand that sex is a very real, everyday part of the world, and I do like television shows I feel like I can connect with. My question for Hollywood, though, is where are the real consequences of casual sex in the shows we consume? Rarely do you see a character on the big screen going to get tested for STDs or worrying about being pregnant, and having the result be a little plus sign that changes their life forever. What about the emotional attachment sex creates with someone? When you really think about it, sex is an incredibly special and interpersonal experience that could actually end up creating a human life. It’s something that I believe connects most people with their partner in a much deeper way anything else in this world.

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I recently heard about a reality television contestant I have always thought seemed cool getting a girl pregnant on a one night stand. He will remain nameless, but he was interviewed about his experience and told us that he was going to try to make things work with the mother so that his child could be raised in a home with a mother and father. Wouldn’t it be so much easier choosing a partner, then creating a baby, rather than the other way around? The thought of marriage and commitment scares a lot of twentysomethings — and rightfully so with the divorce rate pushing 50% in the United States — but raising a child is such a crazy feat that I can’t imagine doing it with a near stranger. Maybe it’s because of all my goofy first date experiences, but seeing just how few people make it to a second, then a third date makes potentially raising a child with one of them an incredibly terrifying thought.

Now, if I haven’t lost you yet, I’d like to leave you with this. What exactly is benefiting us by having such a heavily sex-saturated media? You’ve heard the phrase “Sex Sells” before. The media isn’t our friend, rather they are trying to make a living off of consumption. Sex is such an easy thing to sell, why not integrate it into their business model?

When I worked at Seventeen you would be shocked with some of the questions young girls sent in. The questions wondering about health and safety weren’t always answered, but the interesting ones sure were! Of course, this magazine is one of the “better” ones, since their goal audience is young women and their pledge is to help encourage and strengthen them. Magazines like Cosmopolitan take things a step further to boost sales and increase entertainment value. They don’t care about you as an individual. The media is out for themselves, and they prioritize sales above your health and wellbeing. Instead of putting your faith in the things you read online, find friends and family you trust to have open conversations about your love life.

So, I encourage you if you are young and feel alone in the world to know that not everyone out there is built for casual hookups, and you aren’t the only one who feels too emotionally connected to other human beings to have that as a healthy part of your life. I actually don’t think we’re the minority; I think we are just enormously underrepresented. This is why I decided to finally speak out on the matter, and I will continue to share my viewpoints so that others who feel like the minority will realize that sometimes people are just quiet about their choices if they aren’t what seem popular — you are absolutely not alone


*Friends and Seinfeld are two of my favorite shows on television, but I do cringe at the thought of youngsters watching them and shaping their brains to think that dozens of casual hookups are the norm.

Mighty Letters

As many of you know, I got my third article published on The Mighty recently, and will be writing more about my chronic illness for that. I followed their Facebook page, and I will occasionally read some of the posts that especially catch my eye.

Last week I read one that made me tear up. It was titled, Dear Future Husband, From Your Chronically Ill Wife. Before I even clicked the link this article resonated with me because as goofy as it may seem, I have been writing letters to my “future husband” since I was a young teenager. I love to write, and I am someone who thinks letters and cards often mean more than extravagant gifts. I got the idea because of conversations we had at church about marriage, sex, and dating. I’ve always been a free-thinker and enjoyed spending time contemplating what people discussed, and forming my own opinion after thinking it through. Writing has been a great outlet to express myself as well as figuring out why I feel the way I do about important things in life.

As I’ve mentioned before, I was a late bloomer and wasn’t particularly interested in dating until I was in college (And was too shy to talk to the guys I did actually like in high school). This gave me time to think about what I wanted in a partner, as well as some difficult times being the only single one in some of my friend groups. Even as I’ve grown older I have kept in the back of my mind that I will be getting married one day, and thought about the way I hope my future husband treats the girls he dates before me. I have tried to keep him in the back of my mind with decisions I make, as well as my future kids. I know it seems weird that I was thinking about these people I hadn’t even met when I was so young, but I have always been someone who is very conscious about others’ feelings and I think pretty far into my future and know what I want it to look like.

This article choked me up because my life is not the way I want it to be; I’m not always the person I want to be. Having a chronic illness is the one of the hardest thing I’ve had to deal with in my short life and even though I’ve been sick for almost 4 years now, it still so often feels new to me. I’m not always okay with missing out on things I want to do, I still often wonder why God lets us feel pain, and I can’t do all the chores and work that a normal twenty-something can. I don’t talk about what I’m missing out on very much, as I like to be as positive as I can, but I do wish I could travel more, I wish I could write more, and I wish I could have the kind of adventures that I used to enjoy so much. I wish I could serve those I love more — I wish I could contribute to helping my family more, and I sometimes feel like I’m a burden. There’s a lot that I can’t do but rarely talk about because there really isn’t much of a point in harping on it.

Something I loved about this article is how much it talks about the love we still have to give, despite everything we are unable to do. As much as I sometimes feel like I am an incomplete person because of my illness, when I take the time to sit back and really look at myself the way Jesus would, I realize I am so much more than my physical body. I am kind and patient with others. I am a giver, and often offer much more than I really am able to in order to make others happy. I am thoughtful and genuine, which makes for a very loving heart.

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Photo Credit: The lovely Audrey Denison

As much as I hate my POTS and I hate that I can’t give every single thing in a relationship that I ordinarily would have been able to a few years ago, I also realize what a valuable gift my chronic illness has given me. I have become more resilient, I am much more empathetic than most people who are even twice my age, and I have new experiences under my belt that have been able to help others through hardships of their own.

I have a small binder of letters to give someone on my wedding day, and even though I am nowhere near perfect, that will be perfectly okay. The cool thing about marriage is that you are accepting someone for who they are — flaws and all — and promising to love and care for them for the rest of your life. I don’t know how much better I’ll get with my illness, but I do know that I have a heart that is equipped to love someone completely. I know that I will be a loyal, caring, thoughtful, and trustworthy companion, regardless of how my body is acting. When it comes down to it, these are the qualities that really matter in a relationship — not so much whether or not I can do the laundry or cook an extravagant dinner. I’m still learning to accept myself fully with my illness, but I have come a really long way from where I began.

Feature Friday: Capturing Beauty

“Tilt your head, you are gorgeous when you look at the camera like that!”

I laugh as my best friend cheers me on from behind the camera. It’s so ironic that she is a photographer; Audrey is one of the most beautiful girls I have ever known, and it’s funny that she found a passion to showcase others’ beauty. After doing two photoshoots with her I decided I had to take a picture or two of her every time we went out; after all, she should totally be in front of the camera too!

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Audrey is blessed to be outwardly beautiful, but it’s her heart I love most. She is one of my very best friends, and that has absolutely nothing to do with looks and everything to do with character. Audrey is someone who has been a fiercely loyal friend since I met her, and even though we both want to do similar things in the world, we support each other and push each other to be better, rather than choosing to compete. I can always count on her to make me laugh when I want to cry, and be a great friend even when she has a million other things going on.

I have so many different stories I could write about Audrey, but today I wanted to focus a little on her journey to DC and how she has handled being a grounded twentysomething.

Krista:
You moved to DC without having a set plan or a job lined up, but everything worked out. This is a great example of your faith in God providing for our needs. How did you feel when you made such a big step?

Audrey:
At the time I decided to move to Washington I was attending college in a really tiny, snowy college town. I’m from Las Vegas so even just the idea of being cold is so upsetting to me — I don’t do snow! I remember thinking, “I would absolutely love to get out of here, but don’t see how that’s a possibility right now.” The thought of a few semesters left in my little college town also seemed a little daunting to this solar-powered girl.

I can’t describe why, but I sincerely just felt so good about moving. I had no plan, so even though I felt direction-less I applied for three internships — one in Texas, one in California, and one in DC. It was November and I was somehow hoping to score a last-minute winter internship. I have always been a firm believer that in life, we get what we are willing to work for. I think a lot of the time we sit back and wait for signs in life or big things to happen when really God is saying, “What are you waiting for? If you want it, go for it!” He can’t guide us if we aren’t willing to take that first step in the dark.

I was in class one day and got a call from a man who was the owner of a pretty prestigious company I had applied to in Washington, DC. He didn’t hesitate to tell me how under qualified he felt like I was for the position, and needless to say it was pretty intimidating. Nevertheless, he agreed to meet with me in person and two weeks later I found myself driving across the country.  Needless to say, that door closed and the next six weeks I felt like I was totally in the dark, but I kept applying, networking, and most importantly, I never stopped praying. I am now working at a job that is so perfect for me at this time in my life and I am tremendously grateful the internship didn’t work out. It is amazing how when a door closes it is often a blessing in disguise, and I think God blesses us when we keep our faith even if we can’t see the bigger picture at the time.

K:
Are you still happy with your decision to move here?

A:
I am so happy! And I mean, I get “Krista time” so what is not to love about that?! I think happiness is something we create, not something we magically find. Although I would be happy anywhere, the way things fell into place once I got here has seriously been so inspired. Since moving back I have had people come into my life in such incredible ways that I couldn’t imagine life without.

K:
What is your favorite thing about the DC area?

A:
I am from Nevada so growing up if we wanted to go to another state it was often an all day road trip. I love that I can get in my car or catch a train and in just a couple of hours I can be somewhere else entirely. DC also has such a contagious energy about it that I love but it also transforms at night and is so peaceful. You can spend a lot of money and go to an elaborate show and dinner or spend absolutely nothing at all walking around the monuments or in a museum and still have such a rewarding experience. The history and diversity here never cease to amaze me.

K:
You are someone I really love because you’ve never let a relationship, a job, or a busy schedule get in the way of your friendships. Have you always been like that? What advice would you give to girls trying to juggle a busy life?

A:
For me, life is all about finding the balance. I think in this area especially, everyone is busy but some people wear it as a badge of honor and I am just so not that way. I try to give everyone the best of me throughout the day and put my best face forward but then there are times when I just need to unwind and be with girlfriends and unwind over Godiva Chocolate Cheesecake Factory over a good vent sesh 😉 Ya feel me?

K:
Umm, of course I do!

We haven’t ever really been single at the same time, but our interactions never change when either of us gets a boyfriend. Do you think there’s a reason for this? What makes you value “girl time” as well as quality time with your boyfriend?

A:
Growing up my family didn’t communicate a ton. I was raised with a single mom who worked so hard to make a living for my brothers and I, but she was spread thin so my girl friends became my closest confidants. I think a lot of girls lose their identity in their boyfriends. A lot of the time people see relationships as the whole cake instead of the icing on the cake of life. Having a relationship with someone you love and trust is a beautiful thing, but you are both still individuals. At the end of the day most people are likely to go through a couple of relationships before they end up with the person they will marry, and when those relationships end you shouldn’t be calling up your girl friends like, “Hey… Remember me?” I think it is totally healthy to spend some time apart in relationships — it keeps you both satisfied and allows you to miss each other instead of having to do everything together. I also have the most fiercely loyal, hilarious, and loving friends in my life that just seem to get me. Who wouldn’t want girl time with friends like that!?

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K:
Something I find really cool about our relationship is that we both want similar things in life, but build each other up and share successes, rather than competing. What advice would you give to others in remaining supportive of their friends, rather than competing with them?

A:
When I was in high school I was really insecure. I had this small mindset that I needed to prove myself, but the only person I wasn’t good enough for was myself. As I got older I realized that I was really self destructive and then embarked on a journey where I was trying to be more self-aware. Once I shifted that way of thinking I learned that I not only found joy in my own accomplishments but also the accomplishments of those around me. Someone else’s success doesn’t diminish your own and I wish more women understood that. I remember having froyo “girl time” dates with you all the way back to my first year in college and we always wanted the same things, but I was always so impressed with this about you as well! Having humble but accomplished women in my life makes me want to be better — not bitter — and I wasted a lot of years being the latter. I would tell girls that felt this way to learn to genuinely be comfortable in their own skin and then start vocalizing to others things you genuinely admire about them instead of trying to lead with your own accomplishments. I am so uncomfortable around women who constantly try to make themselves look better than others. None of my girl friends are this way. It’s a shallow and small way to live. If you are threatened by someone else, look inside yourself. What is it about them that you are intimidated by and what is really triggering these emotions of insecurity and jealousy in you? Be honest with yourself and then face that head on.

K:
As I mentioned in your introduction, I always think it’s funny doing photoshoots with you because you are clearly someone who cameras just adore! What got you interested in photography?

A:
Haha oh man, I don’t see it that way, I just genuinely love doing it! I have always wanted to photograph people’s love stories and when I was little I remember looking through bridal magazines and being at weddings thinking how that would be my dream job — to capture those beautiful moments. I still have a long way to go but luckily we live in an era where you can learn absolutely anything and thanks to YouTube it is a lot easier to get a head start in something you don’t know a lot about.

K:
What is your favorite thing about photography?

A:
It is so fun to live in the moment but then that moment is gone and photography is something that helps us remember some of life’s sweetest moments forever. I wanted to be able to create something people can hold on to — whether that is a candid moment of two people dancing or a picture someone can look at that makes them smile because they feel beautiful or see themselves in a new light. I love creating that!

K:
If you could choose anyone in the world to photograph who would it be, and why?

A:
My nephew because he is such a sassy little stud. He’s like Bieber and is a little high maintenance about his crazy paparazzi aunt these days! I am not the kind of person to get starstruck or anything like that, so that’s a tough one. I seriously can’t think of a single celebrity I would really want to photograph over one of my friends or family members, but that’s just my personality. A couple of months ago I was doing a woman’s hair and makeup who was a single mom and had never really been pampered like that before. Afterward she looked in the mirror and got teary eyed and couldn’t stop smiling. I seriously live for moments like that with hair/makeup/and photography where I can help someone feel beautiful and see what I already see in them. I don’t see being a girly girl as something shallow or worldly but rather as something I have a knack for that I can use to help others smile and I love that.

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This is one of many times Audrey did my hair and makeup for a little photoshoot. I am one spoiled girl!

If you’re interested in getting a photographer for something in the DMV, shoot me a message and I’ll connect you with Audrey!


IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT: I’M MOVING!

In just a couple of weeks I will no longer be on this website. My dating life changed a loooong time ago, so I am finally taking the time to make some changes that reflect this and moving my site to KristaLauren.com (As I have mentioned before I would have done this a lot sooner, but I am technologically challenged and 10 times out of 10 prefer to write instead of work on my site). Make sure you sign up to receive emails for my posts, like my Facebook page, or bookmark my new site if you want to stay a part of my Single in The Suburbs family. 🙂

Your Least Important Love Language Is Still A Big Deal

I am currently taking the time to re-read Gary Chapman’s bestselling book, The 5 Love Languages. Whether you are single, in a relationship, married, or divorced I could not recommend this book enough, as it is all about how you can love the important people in your life in a way that is meaningful to them.

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“Gift giving” has always been one of my primary love languages, as I really enjoy taking the time to give people things that I know will make them happy, and it makes me feel really special when someone picks out something small just for me. Since I started dating Robert, though, I have noticed that “quality time” has become my top love language. I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that we did a deployment together and I wouldn’t trade time with him for anything.

Physical touch is tied with gift giving at my second greatest love language, and words of affirmation are right after that. Acts of service come in last with a measly 1 point. Instead of focusing on my greatest love languages, though, today I want to focus on my least — acts of service.

I think it’s so important to take this quiz and know what your most important — and least important — love languages are because they help you learn how to love the people around you even better. Something I realized when I took this quiz and saw how low “acts of service” is in my heart is that I don’t necessarily take note of the love in people’s actions when they perform an act of service for me. Having a chronic illness has really made a lot of my friends and family step up to try and make my life easier. Friends come pick me up at my house to go out for dessert (A few even drive over an hour one way to meet up with me on a regular basis!), carry my purse for me when we go out, and my parents drive me to countless doctors appointments with no complaints. These are all ways people are showing me that they love me through their actions.

I always really appreciate when loved ones take time out of their day to do these things for me, and I often feel bad that I can be such a big inconvenience. I haven’t ever thought of this as their way to show love to me, though. In the past I haven’t taken note of these actions as ways to love; I’ve just thought they were people merely being “nice” to me since I have a physical disability. From now on instead of feeling incredibly awkward that I am causing a problem for someone else, I am going to take a moment to realize that this is their way of showing me that they love and care about me.

I encourage you to find out what your most important love language is because you will be able to better articulate to your friends and significant other what makes you feel loved, however I think we should all go a step further and pay closer attention to the ways people give us the love we feel least connected to. Ever since I have decided to be more aware of the ways people give love to me I have actually felt more surrounded by love than I ever have before. Paying close attention to the little things people do for me every day has made me realize that utilizing your least important love language can still make you feel incredibly loved and will sometimes be the way people you care about will choose to love you.

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Macy lives to serve and does a great job making me feel loved each and every day. Here she is, prompting me to keep reading!

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

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.

Pain Panic Attack

You need to breathe, a small voice said somewhere in the back of my head.

My body had been in pain for weeks now, but this evening seemed like a last straw. I rate my pain on a scale from 1-10 two times a week at PT and lately I had said “8” every time. Tonight was a 10.

I now know what the phrase “put it out of it’s misery” feels like. I had used this phrase growing up when I saw little bugs missing legs or struggling to survive. It had applied to half dried worms on the sidewalk or lightening bugs without any wings in the past. Tonight I felt like it applied to me.

God, WHY did you create me if I am going to live in a life full of pain? PLEASE take some of this burden away. I cannot go on like this.

My heart raced and my jaw felt stiff. I couldn’t cry, but my brain felt like it wanted to — I needed to. I was in so much pain; more than I ever could have imagined someone could be in. I would rather give birth; at least I would be out of pain soon enough after having a child. That thought used to terrify me, now I think the task wouldn’t nearly as bad. At least the pain had an expiration date. At least you got something you wanted out of going though all of that. The only thing I feel like I am gaining is a lesson in patience that I never asked for, lots of frustration, and helplessness.

Death has always been something that kind of scares me. Uncertainty scares me.

In a moment of such intense pain, though, nothing scares you more than a long life feeling like this. This hurts my heart writing this now that I am not feeling so terrible, but it’s really how you feel in the moment when you literally can’t think of anything except how severe the pain inflicting your body is. You put up with it when it’s a long ache you’re used to — even if it is a pretty high level — but when it becomes so sharp and deep to your core, you panic. Your body isn’t made to hurt so badly, and every single organ suddenly freaks out trying to find something to manage the way you feel. All you really can do is close your eyes, pray, and hope God will give you peace and perseverance to press on.

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Moving forward I think pain and illness are things God wants me to talk about more, and I don’t want to forget about some of my hardest experiences just because I am feeling a little better these days. I still don’t know why I got sick, but I have found some of the most difficult parts of my life have been used to help others, so maybe that’s the reason I’ve had to deal with so much with POTS. Today I take my lower pain level for granted, and I want to try to remember to thank God for how much I’ve healed in the last few months. I still am nowhere near “normal,” but praise Jesus I am not in the state I was a few short months ago. God is with us, even in our darkest times, and He is so good.

Mapping Out My Life

Woody Allen once said,

“If you want to make God laugh, tell Him about your plans.”

Whoo boy have I learned my lesson from planning out so many aspects of my own life. I can literally give you hundreds of examples where I’ve planned something out “perfectly” and my dreams get completely wrecked.

One of my favorite things to write about is dating — big surprise — so we’ll go with one of those first. As soon as my ex and I broke up I was excited at the realization that I would eventually find someone to date who wasn’t thousands of miles away… But only after I had been single for at least a year or two and had my fair share of dating around!

That’s when life decided to concoct a perfect plan to completely ruin my plan.

“Ha!! Joke’s on you, Krista; not only are you going to meet someone great far too soon, but he’s going to move away twice as far as your last boyfriend and we’ll spice things up and make the distance be in your way for 10 months — effectively lasting more than twice as long as you and your SO ever did before.”

Life, you are one cruel mofo and not nearly as funny as you think. I believe you’re the only one laughing at your terrible jokes.

Anyway, the great thing about life not going your way is that you often still have options. I had a choice to make: Either break things off with someone I felt was a great fit for me, keep dating around and see whether or not we’d pick back up again when he got back, or be in an exclusive long distance relationship again. I quickly realized I really wanted to see how things would work out with this gentleman, as I’ve never felt the way about anyone the way I did him. I still don’t know how our story is going to end — or whether or not it will — but this is a risk I completely want to take.

Possibly an even crazier example is getting sick with POTS. I would have never in a million years thought something like that would happen to me, but it did and I’ve been able to handle it and still find reasons to be joyful. Something I think about sometimes, too, is that if I had never gotten sick I don’t know if my ex and I would have ever broken up. That’s a terrifying thought, as we were not suited for one another and would have had a really tough future together. He and I had completely different priorities and life goals; dating someone who is more similar to you in this regard is so much easier. Feeling like I’m with someone who will absolutely drop anything to take care of me — both emotionally and physically with my illness — is absolutely priceless.

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Today’s lesson: Life may not always go the way you hope it does. You may never get your dream job, meet the person you’re supposed to spend the rest of your life with when you want to, and the people you think are going to be in your future might not stick around. People are made to adapt, though, and through God all things are possible (Philippians 4:13). Hang in there and realize that although things might be down for you one day, a blessing is likely right around the corner.

#Blessed

This weekend was one where I really felt like the luckiest girl in the world, and all of the people who made me feel this way probably don’t even know that they had such an impact on me.

Not only were friends amazing, but I had several encounters with strangers that made my heart feel happy. I don’t even think I could write a post thankful enough for everyone (my arms won’t hold up too long today, so I have to make this as brief as possible!), but I’m going to do my best.

First, everyone seemed so in tune with all of the pain I’ve been experiencing lately. I never in a million years thought people rushing to doors ahead of me to hold them open could mean so much, but this weekend proved me wrong. Everyone is also always so kind about making sure I have a comfortable seat to sit in, as POTS makes me kind of a grandma and will make the chronic pain a lot worse if I don’t have an ergonomically correct chair to sit in.

I went to a game night with a small group of friends on Saturday and had such a busy day before that I didn’t know what was going on for dinner. We got there and were informed that everything was gluten-free so instead of picking out the ingredients I could eat anything that was there. Not only did they remember my gluten-free diet, but they didn’t put tomatoes in any of the Mexican dishes because they remembered I couldn’t have those either. Sometimes I even forget that I can’t eat tomatoes anymore, so it really meant so much that they remembered after I had briefly mentioned it once. They even made gluten-free brownies for the group and everyone had to choke down the food that I now love and look forward to (Seriously, gluten-free brownies are my favorite food!).

I had planned to take an Uber home from a lunch my dad had dropped me off at, but one of my best friends and her fiancee picked me up and took me to get a milkshake on the way home instead. When I told them they shouldn’t make the trip back to my house and that I was set with an Uber ride, they were adamant that friends don’t let friends take Uber. This situation is the exact same I have with one of my good friends who goes out of his way to take me to game nights. Uber really is missing out on a lot of business with me — my friends and family are all just too great!

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My weekend ended with going to dinner, dessert, and a makeup shopping spree with my best friend, and when I got home I found a note from her in my purse that made me cry. She reminded me of the story of Job in the Bible, and how God allowed Satan to tempt him, which ended up making Job stronger and more refined than he was before his trials. Things have taken a turn for the worse lately, but I know without a doubt that God is here with me and loves me. He has a better plan for me than I could have ever come up with myself, and I am slowly learning to trust Him.


I genuinely think I am the most blessed person in the world. I have more love in my life than anyone I know, and I thank God every day for placing so many amazing people in my path. Sometimes I feel like I don’t know what I did to deserve getting sick and having so much pain in my life, but when I really look at everything I realize I also don’t know how in the world I ended up with so much love. I really am blessed.

My Blessing In Disguise

Awhile back I remember praying several times every single day the exact same thing,

Dear God, please, please, please save this relationship. I’ll do anything in the world to keep him; just please help us to find our love again and help us to actually be happy together. Please…”

I would trail off and start to cry. I wanted nothing more than for my boyfriend to love me again the way he once did. I even remember thinking if I could have one thing in the entire world it wouldn’t be for my chronic illness to be fixed. I wouldn’t ask God to help me with any of my dreams or goals, but instead I just wanted us back.

One day I told my ex this thought and that I missed the way we once were. I said I wanted him to work with me to get back to the beautiful partnership we once had together. I tried everything to fix our relationship — including compromising several of the core things that make me the person I am. I began giving away small pieces of myself until they piled up to make a mountain. I didn’t even recognize myself anymore and found I was never the best version of myself when I was with him. I became short-tempered, wildly insecure, and lost sight of what I wanted in life in order to attempt to please him.

As you know, we broke up.

I have told this story to countless people who find their own relationships crumbling. I use it when I hear people are in despair about a job, school, or anything else that doesn’t seem to be going their way. Why?

Because what I feared most not only happened, but it ended up being the greatest blessing in my life. Really.

We broke up and although that was literally the most terrifying thought I could come up with at the time, not only did I make it out alive, but I found myself again. I am no longer the miserable, frustrated, depressed shell of a girl I was when I was with him. I no longer mimic those impatient and pessimistic behaviors I was used to seeing with my family and friends, but I am able to be the joyful optimist I have always been at heart again.

The dreaded breakup was the greatest blessing God has ever given me, and it made me completely redefine the way I look at things that happen to me in life. I’m lucky to have a very solid example of a way God was protecting me in the long-term by letting me go through short-term pain; not everyone has such a concrete example of this. Moving forward, though, I remember and share this story, as I see how redirecting my path away from what I thought I wanted ended up allowing me to dodge a really big and painful bullet in the end.

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Today’s lesson: You don’t always know what’s best for yourself. Sometimes you just have to take what life gives to you and trust that God has a better plan for you than you do for yourself. I pray for my future husband often, and even though I may not know who he is yet, I know God is protecting his heart for me.