I’d Like To File A Complaint

Do you ever find yourself really annoyed because you find yourself complaining about something really trivial like being stuck in traffic or not having any milk keft in the fridge?

That’s how I feel today. I went to a concert last night at my alma mater, and my lower back is k i l l i n g me. I think I hurt myself from standing too long and not wearing the proper shoes (read: sneakers), which sounds ridiculous but is life with EDS in a nutshell.

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Really, though, my brain is functioning well, it’s rainy and I don’t feel super symptomatic, and my heart is content. My main issue is that I am medium-grumpy today. The pain is getting on my nerves, and I feel frustrated that every time I do something fun and different I have to take it easy for a few days after, while my friends can keep going and going without any problems. I am annoyed at my body for not just being normal — the way it used to be — and I hate feeling like a grandma at 27. Everything takes so much planning, and I turn down certain plans that I want to do, just because I have to weigh how much I have going on the entire week, rather than just a single day.

So, since I am bitching about a million and one things right now, I want to take a minute and realize what I should be thankful for.

I can get up off the couch and walk around. I have feet, legs, and arms that all work. My heart works twice as hard to keep me alive, but it’s pumping and keeping me going! Most of my organs are a bit goofy, but they are all working overtime to make sure I can keep living, and I am so, so thankful for that. I have a wonderful family who loves me, the best fiancée in the world, and amazing friends. I am doubling my family this fall, I am not allergic to chocolate (I count this as a blessing, as I developed a bunch of food sensitivities as an adult), and I have a roof over my head and never go hungry.

I could go on and on about more beautiful things in my life. Dogs make up a great number of blessings, and sunshine, birds, butterflies, and heat are just a few more. Candlelight, snuggling, soft blankets, The Office, country music, buttercream frosting, gentle massages, writing, decaf coffee, warm memories, Pinterest boards, glitter, loved ones’ sweatshirts, snail mail, flowers, dog tags, and a diamond are just a few of the beautiful blessings life has given me.

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As much as I want to complain today, I am going to allow myself a minute of being annoyed, and then just let it go. My pain isn’t an 8 or a 9 today, and I can handle everything that I have on my plate. I just have to turn my frown upside down and enjoy the simple pleasures until I can go out into the world again and take on the next adventure.

Today’s lesson: The next time you want to punch a wall because you’re frustrated about something, take a few seconds to count your blessings. It helps put life into perspective, and makes you realize it’s an enormous waste of time to be grumpy when you can learn to be content instead.

Taking Note Of Red Flags

Today I want to touch on some red flags for those of you who might be wondering whether or not you’re in the right relationship. Often, odds are if you are wondering and continually have the gut feeling that you aren’t with the right person, you probably aren’t. Here are a few red flags that are often pushed aside or ignored:

  • Your significant other has drastically different priorities than you. For example, he values work much more heavily than relationships, and you think family should be the number one priority. Neither of you are necessarily “wrong,” however it is incredibly difficult to make a relationship like this work in the long run.
  • They always tell you one thing and do another. Actions speak louder than words, and if their behaviors don’t match up to what they’re telling you, move on to someone who stands by their words.

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  • Communication just doesn’t seem to be there. If your significant other doesn’t attempt to learn how to communicate with you, there are a lot of problems ahead for you as a couple. I do think men and women often communicate differently, as do people as individuals. It will take work and effort to learn how to effectively communicate, but if you feel like you never get through to your partner, find someone who can learn to effectively communicate with you.
  • If you feel like you need to post quotes and pictures on social media that will hopefully catch your significant other’s attention and make them think, reevaluate why you can’t bring up these points to him in person. A quote or two here and there are great for inspiration and expressing yourself,  but if he is constantly at the back of your mind when you post things like, “Sometimes you don’t know what you have until it’s gone,” find a relationship where you feel appreciated and cared for.
  • Your partner should make you feel secure. If you consistently feel anxious about the  status of your relationship, reevaluate and ask yourself why. Work on any internal insecurities you might have, and communicate those with your partner. They should be willing and open to working on them with you. Love is patient and kind, and the right person for you will know you’re worth working through hardships with. No marriage is exempt from difficulties, and resilience will be a quality that can withstand the test of time.

If in doubt, make a mental note of the little red flags you notice in a relationship. Ask yourself whether your partner’s actions are something you are willing to live with or not. Yes, people can change and work on themselves, but dating is meant to give you data about someone.* Once you are in a committed marriage I do believe unless there is abuse or cheating it is so important to work on any problems to fix the relationship together, but why start off that relationship on the wrong foot? Any couple is going to have trials, but life and love is so much easier if you are both on the same page on what is important in life from the get-go.

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*One of my next posts is going to be all about how to efficiently collect data about a partner before deciding whether they are marriage material.

Still An Innocent

Sometimes I forget the way the world is. I trust most people I meet, I don’t think that almost anyone would ever mean to hurt me, and even if someone does something not so nice, I often still think their heart is probably good — they just don’t have the empathy for a situation simply because they cannot understand it.

One of my friends and I were talking about relationships and dating  — as many of my real-life conversations totally revolve around that too — and we got on the topic of cheating. We both agreed that’s one way a guy could never get a second chance with us, as it’s one unforgivable sin in a relationship. I know some people feel differently; I just personally couldn’t be with someone who treated another girl the way he should always only treat me.

“I wonder how many people in the population cheat at some point,” I questioned aloud. I thought about my friends and family and don’t think there’s been a lot of that kind of thing, but I suppose there are people who kept their affairs quiet that I don’t know anything about. “What do you think the number is?” I asked as I went for my phone to Google it.

“Hmmm,” she thought.

“I’d say 5% of people have cheated on a partner,” I said confidently happy with my number.

“What?!” she exclaimed. “There’s no way that’s right!”

My eyes got wide with embarrassment. I had overshot my number. Of course it couldn’t be 5%. That’s 5 out of 100 people; there’s no way that many people have cheated on their partner. What a foolish guess!

“Uhh, OK, you’re right,” I backtracked. “I’ll go with 1% for my guess.” I felt good about that number. 1 in 100; that seems about right!

She looked at me like I was insane. “Krista,” she started, “It’s at least like, 30%. Are you kidding me?! Think about it for a second!”

I did. I couldn’t imagine that 30…. 30! people in 100 would cheat on their partner. Like, that’s a huge offense! It’s not something that is a little mistake you could ever accidentally make. Cheating takes some calculated measures and steps toward that action. It’s not like it “just happens.” You have to form a bond to someone — at least in some capacity. You have to let yourself think about them in a way that isn’t appropriate when you’re in a relationship with someone else. You have to actively pursue some sort of relationship with a person who isn’t your partner. That’s a pretty long string of mistakes. All of that in my opinion is already just as bad as the physical act of cheating, but it still seems like a lot of these things could be prevented.

When we looked it up, we found that my friend was right. In fact, it seems like 30 is a low estimate in most of the articles we found. The next time I’m in a room of 100 people I don’t think I’ll be able to look at it the same way. I always assume most people who are married or dating are generally faithful because in my mind it is impossible to ever even consider straying from someone you’re supposed to be loyal to. You’ve promised your heart to them, so how could you give a part of it to someone else?

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These statistics definitely shook me. I don’t like to think that anyone I know would hurt their partner in a way like this, much less such a large percentage of people.

You can’t control what other people do or how you’re treated, but you can choose how to react to things that happen in your life. People can absolutely learn to control their thoughts as adult human beings, and if they aren’t making an effort to treat you in the way you deserve, please remember your worth. I can’t speak on anyone else’s behalf, but I can say with absolute certainty that I will never stray from a committed relationship. I make a million-and-one other mistakes in my life, but this is something I take so incredibly seriously and would never even picture any part of my life with another individual when I am invested in someone. I have always been careful about what I think, what kind of media I consume, and who I look up to; all of this has played a part in making it really easy to keep my thoughts and actions all in check. I like to think most people feel the same way I do. I still somehow believe those numbers listed are high and that whoever conducted the surveys just chose people who aren’t the norm.

What do you think? Do you believe the guesstimates that were made in articles like the one above or do you think they’re incorrect, too?

Chronically POTSitive

I am a minimizer.

If you look this up in the dictionary you won’t find a definition, but a minimizer is someone who diminishes their feelings in order to make others comfortable or happy.

Something I minimize just about every single day is how I am feeling. In PT I sometimes feel dizzy, but I don’t say anything unless I am worried that I’m close to fainting. I don’t like to complain or for people to be worried about me — even if it’s a totally normal thing for them. When people ask how I am doing, I always reply with, “I’m doing well, thanks! How are you?” even when it’s not true. I’m often stiff and in pain, but I rarely call attention to my it even in my closest relationships because I don’t want to feel like a broken record. It’s annoying enough having the pain every day, but not dealing with it and having to hear about it all the time would really be a nuisance.

When I say I’m in pain I feel like most people can’t understand what that means because although they may have been in pain for a short time, they haven’t had to deal with chronic pain. Chronic pain is such a draining cycle and isn’t like just breaking a bone or stubbing your toe. An injury typically has an end date to the pain. Even if it hurts intensely at the time, you know your life is going to go back to normal at some point. Chronic pain doesn’t typically look bad either, since people can’t see the way my body is malfunctioning. With a broken bone you can sometimes see the disturbing crack in the body and imagine how terrible the person must feel, but with an illness there usually isn’t much the average person can see that indicates anything is wrong with you.

Chronic pain doesn’t have the hope of getting significantly better in any certain time period. When you’ve spent years spent hurting — ranging anywhere from mild to intense — it’s disheartening. You are trapped in a viscous cycle that starts with pain which moves to the inability to get a good night’s sleep that makes healing tough, and the inability to do normal activities or do little things for yourself. I get on and off frustrated with some of the independence I’ve lost, and some days are harder than others. I’m trapped in a 6 mile radius near my home unless I can get a ride further out, but I miss being able to explore the world on my own.

I don’t always ask for help when I need it because I want to be independent and I want everyone I love to be able to enjoy their day without focusing on me. I hate being the center of attention, so I try to wait until something hurts or I am moderately concerned about my well-being to say anything.

Writing is the only place I feel like I can be completely honest, because it’s an easy outlet. My brain knows exactly what to tell my hands, and it goes on autopilot until the page is filled with words that I feel. Overall I’m actually really happy with my life. I’m blessed to be an optimist, and I won’t ever lose hope that one day I’ll be better. I can find the best in most situations, and I’ve already been able to see some about how my own pain can be used for good to help others. I have an incredible family, the best boyfriend I could choose for myself, sweet friends who are more than willing to be accommodating to my new high maintenance life (Even after 4 years it still feels new), and more adorable puppies and dogs than I know what to do with. What I lack in health is easily made up with in the abundance of love I have in my life.

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Hair, makeup, and (impromptu) photo credit: Audrey Denison

Girl’s Weekend

Getting away with some of your best girl friends is always so great for your heart. This past weekend I went to the beach with Audrey and Melissa, and even though I didn’t feel my best the entire time it was such a wonderful getaway.

We left on Friday after I was all hydrated and salted up (Does anyone else with POTS feel like you are a car that needs to be oiled when you’re taking care of your body? It’s such a funny routine to me, but needs to be done to feel even halfway decent). Our drive to Virginia Beach actually wasn’t bad at all. We didn’t really hit the anticipated beach traffic, and I only had to stop to pee twice! This is amazing with all the water I drink every day… My trip to New York City is the perfect example of how inconvenient (And sometimes embarrassing) this can be.

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Anyway, we ended up getting there a little early, so hit up our favorite smoothie and sandwich joint before heading to the beach. If you ever get the chance to check out Zeke’s Beans & Bowls you totally should. They have the best smoothies, juice, and Greek chicken rice bowls!

After that we checked in to our motel and headed to the beach. It was really hilarious driving up and realizing that we had booked a motel instead of a hotel. It was actually pretty nice despite having a little bit of a rowdy crowd around our room. They even had a pool directly next to the busy highway! We didn’t utilize it at all, but if we had I think we would just avoid peak traffic hours on the off-chance a car veered two feet to the left of the road and into the pool.

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“Low Rates Come And Stay. N ow H rng” I think they might have run out of letters or something…
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Really the only inconvenient thing about our motel was that the shower didn’t really drain well.
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I figured this out my first time in the shower after the beach and from there on out had to take breaks between shampooing and conditioning to let the tub drain a little.

Audrey and Melissa were kind enough to split the amount of work and each added a half of a person to their beach load so I wouldn’t hurt my arms carrying my things. I always feel really bad making people hold my things for me, but they make it really easy to ask for help — by taking my things without me even having to ask! I felt really blessed that every time we left the room one of them would stretch out their arm to take my purse and water bottle from my hand. From now on I think I need to purchase purses that would suit my friends better than myself — after all, they’re the ones who usually carry them anyway!

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Acts of service is becoming a love language that I’m noticing more and more as I need help with so much.

We had a really nice day at the beach lying on our towels, dipping our toes into the water, and talking about dating. It was too cold to really swim, but Friday was the nicest beach day we had while we were gone.

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The best beach snack combination… Chocolate and La Croix! The chocolates had a nice crunch to them from the sand.

We went to Kohr Brothers every single day we were there, as it’s probably my favorite dessert place in the world (Maybe even above Pinkberry!). I’m a pretty happy camper when you give me anything chocolate peanut butter related, but this is the closest you get to a taste of heaven on earth.

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I couldn’t wait to eat the ice cream before the picture, so this is how I smile with a mouth full of chocolate sprinkles.

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The Kohrs people knew me by the end of our trip.

Our last evening there we decided to go to a nicer restaurant since it was a bit rainy out. We chose a place that got great a Yelp rating for American cuisine and seafood. When glancing over the reviews I noticed that a lot of people mentioned the broccoli in their posts; I realized it was a bit odd, but didn’t really give it another thought… Until I ordered the steamed veggies and they presented me with three heads of broccoli. Like, what the heck?! Who in their right mind could ever consume an entire mini-tree, much less three?!

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The funniest part was that they added a couple of pieces of squash and carrots to the mix, almost to tease you that you did, in fact, get “steamed vegetables,” even though it was essentially steamed broccoli with hollandaise sauce. I ate as much as I possibly could and still had two and a half stocks of broccoli left.

Our last day at the beach was a bit chilly, but any day at the beach is always a good one! We sported long sleeves and blankets, but it was nice being able to sit and listen to the waves sing before making the long trip home.

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Overall the trip was really great and worth all the time spent not feeling well. I posted on Instagram a lot, mainly because I did spend quite some time in the hotel room resting from being out in the heat. I felt like this is ironic because it really was painting a picture for people that I was only having an amazing time my entire trip. Anyone with a chronic illness knows what it’s like to pretend to be well for a weekend. POTS is a little “B,” and I felt frustrated that I couldn’t run, play games on the beach, or walk by myself (Since I can’t carry my own water bottle to stay hydrated), but I sometimes forget that almost 4 years ago I got sick at the beach and couldn’t even walk a block without feeling like I was having a heart attack and/or passing out. I am so blessed that I can sit on the beach, enjoy the warm salty air, and eat a giant scoop of ice cream on the boardwalk. There are people who can’t even do that, so instead of feeling upset about the things I can’t do I try hard to focus on the wonderful things I do get to have.

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You Are Meant To Be Here

You know what’s such a mindblowingly amazing thing? There are 7.4 billion people in the world, and God decided He still needed you here. That’s how absolutely special you are.

Like, He thought about it and decided that we need a “Krista” somewhere on this earth, and He has a great purpose just for me. I can’t even really wrap my mind around that, other than the fact that I try my best to make a positive impact on those I come into contact with every day… Because maybe part of my purpose of being here on this earth is to help touch an individual — or a group of individuals. I don’t know what my big purpose in life is, but I do think I have a bunch of small reasons I am here and valuable to others, which are just as important.

There is absolutely a purpose each and every one of us is here, and my hope for you is that you realize that and continue to work toward whatever it is that makes your heart beat fast. I know for me that some of the scariest things I have done have been the most rewarding. The writing that makes me the most nervous to post on here is what really moves people and makes them feel less alone in the world. At the end of the day, I believe that’s one of the biggest reasons God created me — to help others realize their heart might feel a little broken sometimes, but that our Creator can heal them and put them back together again. It’s okay to feel lost in a broken world and as long as you keep pushing forward something beautiful can come from heartbreak.

Keep going, and never forget that you are loved, and that YOU MATTER. I can’t say that enough. You matter, you are loved, and you belong here.

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Someone For Everyone

I strongly believe there is someone for everyone in the world. No, that doesn’t mean I think that everyone should — or will — be in a relationship or get married, but I do believe if you want to have a romantic partner there is someone out there who will be a good fit for you.

There are so many amazing examples I’ve seen of people who thought they would never find true love because they were too quirky, too sick, too old, too tall, too short — the list goes on. I would like to argue, though, that the only thing that would ever really hinder someone from finding true love is being too picky. None of the other “too’s” are going to deter every single person in the world from dating you.

Something to remember in the world of online dating and infinite choices is that nobody is perfect. You will never have a partner who has every single quality checked off on your “list,” or who doesn’t sometimes get on your nerves, but that’s normal. The most important thing to remember is that if your relationship is overall a really big asset to your life, the little annoyances you sometimes have are so tiny in the grand scheme of things.

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Luckily we aren’t all attracted to the same kind of person. That would make life pretty boring, and the journey to find love way too competitive — kind of like an ongoing episode of The Bachelor. People have different “types” that they’re into, and just because you are rejected by one person doesn’t mean the next one who comes around won’t like you.

I don’t know why it takes some people longer than others to find a partner when their heart is ready. Sometimes I think it really is because dating is a numbers game. The more dates you go on, the more people you meet, and the more likely you are to find someone you really click with. Other times, I think people get in their own heads about dating and can take things too seriously too quickly. I know how hard it is to want the beautiful, loving relationship that you picture in your head, but remember that love and trust take time to build and you can’t force things.

Writing people off without getting to know them is another thing that can really hurt your dating life. Whether it’s because you don’t think you’re good enough for someone or because you don’t think they’re the right fit for you, sometimes it can be really beneficial to give people who have the important things in common with you a chance. When I first became single my motto quickly became “It’s just a date.” By having this attitude I was able to chat with guys, get to know them, and give them a chance. If you really dig deeper into my own life, did it make sense that I went on a date with a soldier who was getting ready to leave for a long deployment? It doesn’t seem like an ideal situation — especially for someone who isn’t keen on doing long distance — but going on that first date with Robert and giving him a chance was one of the best decisions the best decision I have ever made. Seriously, I could not have known two Octobers ago that going out to a little Italian restaurant with someone I met online was going to be a life-changing moment for me, but it was, and despite all the hard times we had during the deployment he was worth every single one of them. Giving this cute, funny stranger a chance gave me one of the most important things I have in my life — us.

Regardless of how dating has been for you, the only way you can find what you’re looking for is by putting yourself out there and trying again. I hate heartbreak so much, but the great thing about loving and losing the wrong person is that you are another step closer to finding the person who is right for you. Hearts are fragile, but they’re resilient and can heal, even when it feels like they are smashed into a million different pieces. Hang in there, and be gentle with yourself.