My Foggy Highlight Reel

Each period in my life has had something memorable that I can pinpoint and think back to. Except when I got sick with POTS. I remember very vividly how scary the first few days and nights were, but I don’t remember some kind of big details that were during that time period. Other than my family knowing what was going on from being there, I don’t remember telling anyone that I got sick overnight. I don’t recall even sending out one message saying I felt like I was dying and that I had gone into some sort of shock; I don’t think I did. I was so focused on how my body was completely giving up on me that I didn’t think to message anyone about it. Looking back, that was really strange and unlike me, but I think I was just too focused on the problem at hand to think straight. I’ve asked people who were close to me at the time what they remember about me getting sick, but I don’t think there was a monumental moment that anyone could recall. I don’t think the people who were really close to me understood how big of a deal this was until a few months later when I was still somehow sick.

I decided to do some digging and show you a little bit of my life pre-POTS, and then few things after getting diagnosed. So much of this time is so foggy to me because I was just in survival mode and trying to navigate life with a new collection of health problems. I don’t really remember living the first few months, with the exception of some pretty life-changing doctors appointments. Even those are a little bit foggy, though. I couldn’t stand very long when I went to my appointments, and often had to retake my blood pressure several times because I couldn’t stand very long without passing out.

One thing that is absolutely crazy to me is that my husband, Robert, never knew pre-POTS Krista. He’s heard about what I used to be like and the hobbies that I had before getting sick, but he didn’t experience going running with me or seeing my hilariously serious work ethic in school. He never held my hands before they were always hot or cold, and didn’t get to see how vicious I was in even a casual game of volleyball. This is something I wish was different, and that I feel sad about on occasion. It’s a big enough deal that my best friend Audrey included this tidbit in her maid of honor speech at our wedding — though she said the kindest things and that he didn’t need to know what I was like before I got sick to love me for my heart. It’s weird feeling like there are parts of me that are just gone completely now that I can’t be as active as I once was.

That was the Krista I felt proud of, and miss a lot of the time. Don’t get me wrong, I still think there are so many wonderful traits I have after getting sick, but work and sports are not a big part of my life anymore, and these were such a large part of my identity for so long that it’s been hard trying to recreate myself and figure out what I can do with my new restrictions. Since getting sick I lost so many things that brought me joy, and am still trying to find a balance between having experiences and continuing in my journey to getting better.


I got sick with POTS in August of 2013. Up until then, I loved working. In college I always had some sort of job in writing, and made money babysitting a few days a week after school. I worked for the school newspaper almost every semester as a columnist or editor, had several in the journalism field, and was involved in a few different clubs on campus. I loved being busy and whenever I had free time, I tried to find something new to occupy my time with.

2013 started off getting a phone call from my number one internship choice. After several interviews, I had snagged the editorial job at Seventeen magazine in New York City — my favorite place in the entire world. I was on top of the world, and although I wished a little bit that I had been able to enjoy the previous semester at college knowing it was going to be my last, I knew this was the step I wanted to take. I was ready to get out into the real world and start working. It had always been my dream to be a journalist, and I would finally get to do what I loved! Granted, I had a full course load I had to take online, but I knew it would all pay off when I could move to New York and continue working for a magazine with the Hearst corporation after completing my internship there. I was confident in my writing, and I knew someone would want to hire me full-time when I was done working for free. It turns out they would, but I wouldn’t be able to accept an offer to my dream job just two months after completing my time in the city.


Rewind to 2012, right before I got the phone call and moved to New York City. This was my last year without having POTS.

I celebrated my 22nd birthday at a Japanese steakhouse that had the most hilarious birthday ritual. They kicked the night off by bringing a balloon and a flaming shot. Then, all the lights in the restaurant went off and a disco ball came down from the ceiling. Five servers with different instruments began to play, and sing “happy birthday” at the top of their lungs. I cried I was laughing so hard. They spoiled me for the rest of the night and kept bringing little free dishes in between our stay there. I got sorbet, cheesecake, drinks, and little appetizers throughout the meal. Every time someone different came over and said, “happy birthday!” and delivered some sort of new surprise. They ended the night by putting a $3 charge on the bill titled, “Birthday Party.” It just made the night that much more funny, and this experience was what prompted me to take Robert to this exact restaurant after just a few dates with him to “celebrate his birthday” there too (Please read that link; to this day it’s one of my favorite posts on this blog. Thanks, babe!).

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December 2012

A few days after that, I ran my first half marathon. I had been training for it several months prior and was excited to set a new distance record for myself. Running had always been an activity that I loved and was a big part of my routine. I ran at least 4 days a week, usually more, for all of my adult life. I miss feeling my lungs burn from the cold, and running until all my thoughts just evaporated into the wind behind me. Running was one of my favorite stress-relievers, and I wish more than anything I could feel what it was like again.

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December 9, 2012

I got the time I had hoped for and finished the race without having to stop. I was exhausted, but proud of myself. I wanted to run another one to see if I could beat my first time, but I was happy to be done for the day.

A couple of weeks later, I spent the new year out of town, and got an a call from one of the hiring managers at Seventeen saying that I got the internship I had interviewed for. It was a little bit of a shock having to pack my things, find someplace to live, and move to the Big Apple in the span of a week, but I always loved adventure and was so giddy with excitement that I didn’t really have enough time to think about anything else.

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I packed up my life into a few suitcases and took the bus with my mom to move me into my new little 9X11 apartment and explore the city that was going to be my new home for the next several months. Lugging my bags up and down the stairs across town and learning how to use the subway is a memory I’ll never forget. It was so much fun moving to a place filled with so many of my dreams and endless possibilities.

The Hearst Building was the home of the Seventeen magazine office. We worked on the seventeenth floor, and I loved every day of work — so much that I often stayed late into the evening to keep working on projects because I enjoyed what I did and wanted to take on as much as my boss would allow. I was an editorial intern, but ended up being able to do some of my own writing for the magazine. My work involved a lot of research, interviewing, editing, and even helping pitch ideas to the executive editor. I got to go to business meetings all around the city, and had a few errands to run on occasion, but it felt a lot more like a real job than it did an internship. The better I did, the more they trusted me with real assignments, and I thrived in the high pressure, short-deadline world of journalism. I loved it so much that I knew I had picked a career where I wouldn’t hate going into work every day.

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One of my favorite things about New York was that it truly is the city that never sleeps. Barnes and Noble became one of my favorite places to spend my free time because it was  just the right amount of chaos to get work and studying done. My apartment was so tiny it felt like there wasn’t enough room to set up my books and laptop along with the rest of the things I had taken to the city. I took my textbooks and a snack to the store, and read and worked on papers for hours at a time. I enjoyed the classes I was taking, and only had 13 credits to complete that semester since I had packed my schedule the previous year.

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New York offered the kind of life I loved. I was independent and worked hard at my job, and exercised regularly. In the past I hadn’t enjoyed being alone a lot, as I was an extreme extrovert, but I felt really comfortable being my own company in the city that felt so alive. I loved going on adventures, exploring, trying new things, and meeting new people. My favorite thing about New York was that every day was so drastically different, even if I began with the same route. I never knew what adventure would happen next, and I loved my life that way. It was exciting and fun learning how to constantly adapt to new things.

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I had a bad obsession with Pinkberry for a very long time. The only thing that made me stop going was the fact that they all closed down in our area.

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Going back and reading through my Tweets, Facebook posts, and journal entries from that time makes me so happy. Living in New York was truly one of the best times of my life, and I feel so thankful that I was able to experience it before I got sick. I used to often feel frustrated that I would never get the taste of working overtime in the big city again, but I am incredibly grateful for all the memories I have from that time. I have a million different things I could post on here, but will just share my favorites.

I found a Trader Joe’s across town and enjoyed “cooking” microwaveable food for lunch and dinner. I would walk if it was nice enough out, despite being almost 2 and a half miles from my apartment each way, and always stocked up on my favorite things. It’s actually kind of shocking looking at how much I could carry back then (and it wasn’t a difficult task for me either!).

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Living in New York was so surreal. I always looked at the new world around me and would daydream about what it must be like to get to stay there forever. Valentine’s Day — my favorite holiday — was so much fun because I saw so much joy and happiness around me.

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Some of the funniest moments happened in New York and I wish I had documented them better. Friends came to visit and we would go dancing on the weekend, our favorite place being “Turtle Bay,” a dive bar with an impromptu dance floor and crazy bartenders. I loved that I made new friends everywhere I went, and that they all seemed excited to see me too. I talked to anyone and everyone, and to this day I think New Yorkers get a really unfair bad rap.

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I made sure to always try new things that were presented to me while I was there… Which included eating some Larvae when a sample was offered to me. 

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Despite it tasting faintly of cashews, I did NOT like it.

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Taking the subway to go out dancing.

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I loved all the random people I met, but I also made some lifelong friends at my internship and in my apartment building. We still talk on a regular basis, and I feel so blessed to have those memories to share with such great people.


Fast-forward a few months after graduating in May and then leaving the city,  this post was made two days before I got extremely ill overnight and began my journey with POTS. We were taking our last family vacation to the beach, and it was one of the final days there. I remember this night vividly, and the meteor shower is still one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen.

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August 14, 2013 was the day I really started being terribly symptomatic. I’ve described that night in great detail before, but I don’t think I can put to words exactly how I felt. A few weeks later the doctors had an idea of what was going on, but it took several months to really get into a rhythm of realizing what my new life was like — and that it wasn’t just something I was going to get over quickly.

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I’m someone who always minimizes things. I am not the best communicator sometimes because I hate inconveniencing others, and I don’t ever want anyone to pity me. When people feel bad for someone I feel like it makes them seem less of a human being, but I want people to understand. This is why I have always been very vocal about what’s going on in my life — even if I do make light of it all.

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Note: it was 100% not worth it, and I am SO happy that I know what my body needs to keep my blood pressure up and don’t faint anymore.
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Those were my Halloween nails, haha!

The tests I had to take since I got sick with POTS were awful because it took all week to recover afterward. I still have to prioritize things on my to-do list, and decide whether or not something is worth the energy and recovery time, but luckily I am able to do a lot more and a doctors appointment won’t keep me down for the rest of the week.

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I’ve always loved writing, and blogging was a really nice way to get to express my frustration about the lack of knowledge people have about POTS — including doctors. I am so lucky to have a wonderful cardiologist who specializes in Dysautonmia close by, and have coping tools to enhance my quality of life. It’s amazing what a difference lifestyle changes make, but there is still so much for people to learn about this not-so-rare, but rarely diagnosed condition.

During the first couple years when my POTS was a lot worse, I consistently posted about my adventures on the recumbent bike, dogs, and television shows I enjoyed watching. Other than having friends come over, there was a time where I remember not being able to go anywhere I couldn’t elevate my feet. I went out to a movie night with a big group of my girl friends, and had to get driven home because I couldn’t sit upright without blacking out. I had to raise my feet above my head at the grocery store sometimes because standing upright to shop was often impossible for my autonomic nervous system to handle. Basically, it was really hard to even just get out of the house at one point.


Dogs were a huge part of world — and let’s be honest, they still are. Gracie and Macy were some of the most healing little creatures, and brought me joy every day, even when I felt my worst. I really do think dogs are little angels God sends to the world to bring us comfort, joy, and much more love than we even deserve.

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My childhood dog, Gracie, brought me so much joy.
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My first time meeting Macy
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She brings me so much joy and brought so much healing when I needed it most. She learned a lot of helpful tricks along the way, like taking things from one room to another in our house. We still send her around with little notes!
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Such a sweet little angel. ❤

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I tried to make the most of everything I had to deal with. Some of the best advice I’ve been given is that even in my most trying times, I should write about my experiences. It gives me a more concrete reason of why something unpleasant might have happened, and more life experience. It also brings more of a purpose to this illness by helping spread awareness for other people suffering with Dysautonomia or invisible illnesses. My writing and ability to connect with others are the two things that keep me positive throughout all of this.

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I was a little nervous to travel alone, but Southwest Airlines is amazing at checking in on people who need some extra help. The only bad part about my trip was the fact that I felt out of it most of the trip and spilled Cheetos ~all over~ my seat and down the aisle.

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It’s crazy noticing now that my chronic pain issues have been going on for more than 4 years now.

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A lot of my writing about chronic illness is to educate people who maybe haven’t had to deal with anything like this before. It’s so weird looking like a completely normal, healthy twenty-something when your body isn’t working properly. I think there are a lot of people who mean well, but maybe just don’t understand that there is such a thing as invisible illness and you wouldn’t know someone was feeling terrible unless you talked to them.

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It’s crazy thinking about all the time I’ve spent in the life of having a chronic illness. When I first got POTS I was terrified hearing that I would have it for the rest of my life. Then, I was optimistic that I would be better within 5 years because of some studies I had read about the condition. I reached the 5 year mark this August, and have felt frustrated at times that things still aren’t where I want them to be, but I am going to keep fighting to get a more normal life back, and I so appreciate how much I have improved since August 2013. It hasn’t been easy turning my everything upside down and learning to be positive though pain, but I have more faith that God has a plan for my life and will make something beautiful out of even unpleasant circumstances. After all, if I hadn’t gotten sick with POTS there is no way I would have met Robert, so I trust that God knows what He’s doing, even when it doesn’t always feel like it. I just might not know why everything is happening the way it is right now, but maybe one day I will.


Thanks for reading if you made it this far! I know this was a much longer and more informal blog post, but the old versus the new me is something that I think about often because it is just so freaking weird having this as my life. I still feel weird sometimes telling people I have a chronic illness, and it isn’t anything I ever imagined would happen to me — especially at such a young age. I just think it’s important to remind people that I have had a really normal life up until getting sick with POTS, and despite being different now, I still can relate to so much to normal people as well as the “new” community I’m a part of.

Dear Men, Take More Pictures.

I think a lot of us saw the post that went viral last year from the mom who said that men need to take more pictures of their wives.

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Photo Credit: ShaiLynn Photo and Film

Truth is, my Facebook feed is filled with photos of dads, boyfriends, children, and dogs, but we often don’t see the women behind the camera. As the post states, if girls don’t ask, the photo isn’t getting taken. You could argue that females might be a little more likely to update their Facebook feeds, but I also think it rings true that men are generally less likely to preserve the little moments of everyday life that many women enjoy having.

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I’ve never been very good at taking pictures. I always felt too “in the moment” to capture my life on camera — that is, until the deployment. Before Robert was deployed I took pictures of him cooking, playing games with me, driving, and on dinner dates. I took videos so I could hear his voice while he was gone, and I tried my best to get some photos of us together so I could remember everything. In all honesty, I don’t know what I would have done without those tiny pieces of him while he was overseas. My heart hurt every night he was away, but when insomnia struck I was able to pull up a picture or video that reminded me of the fun times we had together. I had funny moments, sweet moments, and even a few sad moments of us together on my phone.

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This was after the best weekend with Robert right before he flew overseas. Looking at this picture still makes me tear up, as it was the most heartbreaking “goodbye” I’ve said in my life.

If you look at my Instagram you’ll see photos I’ve captured of Robert in everyday life since. I took pictures of him while he was painting his new home, filling up his truck with gas on a road trip, and of how nice he looked when he got home from work. My iPhone is filled with pictures of dogs, my family, food — primarily dessert (Sorry Instagram) — and Robert. These are the most special things in my life, and I want to be able to look back on them 50 years from now and remember the little details my own memory might forget.

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This is one of my favorite pictures of Robert. In the first few months of dating I got Junior Mints to take to the movies. We accidentally spilled them in Robert’s seat, and he noticed them plastered to his butt before he went home. I’ll never forget moments like this, but I love having a picture that I can giggle at along with the story.

I am a hundred percent my own worst enemy when it comes to having my photo taken, though. Instead of embracing it, I blush and wonder why I need to be alone in a photo. I say “No thank you” when someone asks to take a picture of me, and my reflexes have gotten great at pushing a lens out of my face. From now on I am going to try my best to move past my own insecurities and ask to have my picture taken too. With dogs, by myself, and even when I’m tired and not wearing any makeup.

Instead of feeling like it will make me seem vain or be offputting, I am going to realize that having my photo taken too is just another piece of the puzzle for documenting a memory. That way when I get older and have kids of my own, I’ll be able to show the candid moments of myself as well as my loved ones, and will be included in all of the adventures, too. In all honesty I’m actually really nervous about committing to this, but I’m going to try to be a good sport and will start sharing the more candid, less than perfect photos on here too.

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Here’s to creating lots of beautiful memories with loved ones — and capturing a few in the process.

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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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!

December 3rd

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Date By Myself

pop. Pop. pop pop pop pop pop pop pop pop beeeeeeeeeep!

The smell of butter filled the kitchen so beautifully that the air felt yellow with artificial flavor.

I walked over to the drawer next to the microwave and grabbed a bar of Trader Joe’s 73% dark chocolate, and held it between my teeth as I snatched the bag of steaming popcorn from the oven.

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Friday nights sometimes just call for a night in by yourself, watching The Office and pigging out on junk food. Tonight was going to be a little taste of heaven.

I sit on the couch in my baggy Army t-shirt and boyshorts and enjoy the silence of an empty house while I select an episode on Netflix. Ten minutes later I’m laughing at Michael Scott with popcorn spilled on my lap and a half-eaten chocolate bar. I reach for the can of Ready Whip I had obtained and squirt a dollop on my tongue.

This is a beauty of being single that is often overlooked. You can pamper yourself with some of your favorite treats and spend an evening alone. I am one of the most extroverted people I know in that I love being around people most of the time. Sometimes I forget to take a break and enjoy my own company, but when I do, I have a really nice evening. Since Robert has been gone and most of my friends are in relationships I do find myself with more free alone time, and I am really glad that I’ve been able to learn how to feel content staying in on a Friday night.

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Dogs also make wonderful company. Macy pouts when I eat popcorn because she loves it, but knows she isn’t allowed to beg. I always give her some in turn for tricks!

Today’s lesson: Cherish life at every stage, even while you’re single. One day you will probably be married and not have the chance to have the house to yourself very often!

Going Cruelty Free

I love animals. I always have and grew up having a bunch of different pets. We fostered 2 dogs when I was really young — a Golden Retriever, then a German Shepherd, and then welcomed Gracie, our sweet Boston Terrier, into our home. She lived with us until she went to doggie heaven at 17 years old. We rescued 2 cats off the street — “Kitty” and “Spider Man” (ha!), and even though I am not the biggest fan of cats I loved that we were able to give creatures who needed a home a warm place to sleep… And they grew on me quickly, even though they maybe didn’t love me as much back.

I’ve never had a pet fish before, but we’ve had lizards, hermit crabs, hamsters, (Until I realized being so ticklish was kind of dangerous, so gave him to my best friend) frogs, and just about anything with legs. I have always wanted a pet snake, but that’s where my mom — the biggest animal lover I know — draws the line.

My mother raised me from a really young age to be kind to everyone I meet — and that includes animals. After all, they are God’s little creatures too, and they deserve to be treated with respect. I have watched her save countless animals throughout my life. We didn’t only take pets into our home to care for, but my mom has always been the person to go into the street of our neighborhood when we see a turtle and put it safely on the side of the road it was trying to get to.* She has saved injured birds, found lost dogs, and even helped me move a snake from the road when I was adamant that I didn’t want him to get squished. My mom is hands-down the kindest and most selfless person I have ever met, and I think she is such an angel.

Anyway, it was recently brought to my attention that my favorite Covergirl mascara was tested on animals, which got me thinking more about what other products I might use that could be harming innocent little creatures. Guys, there are so many things in my beauty routine that are tested on animals.

One thing I want to start focusing more on writing about is small little things we can do to help change the world. Yes, I know it’s maybe a little naive of me to think I can change the world by doing something as small as redoing my beauty routine, but that’s why I want to use my writing to encourage others to do the same. I have some ideas of what I will be focusing on in weeks to come, but in the meantime if you want to join me and stop buying products (shampoos, conditioners, makeup, lotion, the list goes on!) that test on animals, Cruelty-Cutter is a great app to use when purchasing something to see whether or not it is an item you should purchase or cut from your collection. I am currently trying several new products that I’ll be doing reviews on soon, but in the meantime I encourage you to be aware of how what you use affects others.

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Macy is excited about making a change too! Yorkies have hair instead of fur, so they’re all about their beauty products… She will be switching to an animal friendly hair care routine as well.
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My sweet angel, Gracie

*Just an FYI, when you do move a turtle, always put him onto the side of the street he was originally going to. They are determined little fellas who know what they want, and will just put themselves into harm’s way again to cross the road to his ultimate destination.

Stuck In A Rut

One thing I love about having this blog is how many stories I get to hear about my readers’ dating lives. It’s wonderful seeing so many blossoming relationships, and I feel honored when people trust me with their dating problems or to give good advice.

Something that comes up a lot is overwhelming discouragement with the way dating is going. In some cases girls who come to me say that they struggle because they don’t get asked out IRL very often, thus do not have a wide variety of prospects. Others say that every date they do go on seems to end in disaster — or even just a lack of interest — and that they fear they’ll never find anyone.

I have some encouragement to offer, though. There is someone out there for everyone. I am not saying that everybody in the world is going to find a significant other or get married — though I think if you want someone in your life you’ll manage to find a special person eventually if you’re really willing to put in the work to find them — but I think we often worry that since we haven’t found someone yet, that it’s never going to happen. That is a very slippery slope, my friends!

Some people in this world do have more matches than others. Certain personalities seem to have more choices than others, but that doesn’t mean if you haven’t met the right people to date yet that you never will. In the meantime, here are a few tips I have come up with to better yourself while you feel somewhat stuck in a rut:

  • Focus on your friends. Shifting some of the time you might spend dating towards nourishing some of your good friendships isn’t something you’ll ever regret — whereas pouring all of your free time into dating and away from your close relationships might be. Some friends are forever, whereas most of the people you date will likely only be in a very small part of your life. Friends are the people who will help you through heartbreak, be there for you when no one else is, and happily pick you up when you’re feeling down. Strengthen these relationships and make time for “friend dates” to have fun while you’re looking for Mr. Right on the side!
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We have all felt like this Pug at some point in our lives — though none of us can possibly be quite as cute as he is!
  • Volunteer. Spending some of your free time sharing your gifts and talents with the world is a really beautiful thing. I have also found that when you volunteer your time to help other people, you end up getting even more out of the experience than the people you are helping. Making a difference in the world is an incredible thing that isn’t as difficult as people make it seem. After all, even if you just touch one person’s heart, you are changing their world for the better.
  • Learn something new. Ever since I became single again I have made a point to learn new things and make myself a more dynamic person. I learned some new magic tricks to add to my repertoire, I am working towards my Masters in English, and I started listening to podcasts (Freakonomics has made learning about the economy simple, which also led me to one of my other favorite podcasts, Question of The Day). These are all things I am doing solely for myself and I appreciate the time I get to focus solely on the things I want to do, as one day I won’t have as much free time for myself.
  • Form new friendships. Making new friends is really rewarding, especially when they end up becoming close ones. I have also found that meeting new people often means you eventually meet their friends, and you never know when someone might decide you are a “perfect match” for one of their friends. Dating is all about networking, so although this shouldn’t be your motive for making new friends, it can certainly be a bonus!

Today’s lesson: Positive thinking is so important, and getting too discouraged with dating won’t solve any of your problems. Instead, take a deep breath, relax, and work on bettering yourself and the world around you! You will never feel like you wasted time if you’re becoming a stronger, more empathetic, and kinder person. Making a difference in the world will not only impact the people around you, but it will change your life for the better as well.

Feature Friday: Kalika, Ben, & Trina

Kalika and I have been good friends since my freshman year of high school and I feel so incredibly blessed to still have her in my life today. She is one of the most creative, empathetic, bubbly, and thoughtful girls that I know. Kalika loves dogs as much as I do, and is currently the mother of one adorable crooked-tailed pups out there.

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Single In The Suburbs:
Where did you and Ben meet? What were your first impressions and how might they have changed over time?

Kalika:
Ben and I were both interns with Campus Special during the summer of 2012. We met at a training conference in Atlanta while waiting for the elevator. I immediately thought he was handsome and particularly liked his blue eyes. His nametag showed that he was the University of Delaware rep, and I know a few people that went there (thanks, Kate!) so I struck up a conversation.

We went to my first NBA and MLB games that weekend where I learned pretty quickly about Ben’s schemes, like sneaking down to better seats that were still available on StubHub right before tickets are taken down before the game (he’s only gotten better at scheming since I’ve known him).

My first impression of Ben was that he was shy and quiet, but that is not the case! As we got more comfortable with each other, he’s shown his true colors as SUCH a goofball. He makes the most ridiculous faces, sings along to songs with the wrong words or in goofy voices, wears collared shirts with sweat shorts in public, and makes me laugh all the time. When we had been dating no more than 2 weeks, he showed me a video of him singing “I’m Yours” by Jason Mraz that he made for a high school class. It was so ridiculous (and a little cringeworthy) – I couldn’t believe he showed it to me that early in our relationship!

I should note that it was not all sunshine and rainbows and dates immediately after meeting. I visited Ben and my friend/his sales partner Eva at the University of Delaware a few times during the summer and liked Ben more than he liked me. We fell out of touch during 4th year (that’s UVA speak for “senior year”). Ben moved to DC after graduating in 2013. Eva was visiting me in northern VA while I was home for a month before moving back to Charlottesville to start my job. We were at Mellow Mushroom in Adams Morgan when Eva suggested we meet up with Ben. I was reluctant since it had been a while and he wasn’t interested in pursuing a relationship with me but thankfully, Eva insisted.

Ben met us at Maddy’s for drinks and we hit it off again. Surprisingly, we continued to hang out after Eva’s visit, going to a few Nationals games and on our first real date in Arlington. In September, Ben came down to Charlottesville for the first time to attend the annual Top of the Hops beer festival. Once we arrived and started seeing many of my friends and coworkers I asked Ben, “How should I introduce you?” He replied with a smile, “You can introduce me as your boyfriend.”

SITS:
When did you first know Ben was the one you wanted to spend your life with?

Kalika:
I can’t think of an exact moment but I’d say sometime in the first half of 2015. I was already in love with Ben and really excited for him to move down to Charlottesville in May. I knew that living together would confirm that we would never be apart again!

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“One thing that affirmed that Ben was ‘the one’ is the way he is with Trina. He is such a great dog dad and I love how he snuggles with her and loves her so much.”

SITS:
What is your favorite memory with Ben?

Kalika:
Oh gosh, I definitely don’t have just one: our first first kiss on a bench at the University of Delaware when he finally opened up to me; our second first kiss after our first date in DC; relaxing in romantic hot springs in Costa Rica; hearing him say “I’d be down to come back next year” on day 2 in India; enjoying Valentine’s Day dinner that Ben put so much work into (see below); waking up next to him (which I really appreciate after 2 years of long distance); and feeling so at home while snuggling on the couch with him and Trina.

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Also, this isn’t a memory with Ben, but I love how he’s made friends with my friends and can hold his own with my family without me present. When Ben lived in DC, he didn’t have a car, so he would ride down to visit me in Charlottesville with my friends and get to know them one-on-one. He stayed an extra day in San Fransisco with my cousins and has gone out to dinner with my dad without me. He’s come a long way from the “quiet” guy I thought he was in 2012!

SITS:
How has your life changed since you got engaged?

Kalika:
1. Our day-to-day life is pretty much the same but with the addition of wedding planning!  In the spring we took venue tours, and now we are going to meetings and doing vendor research (and bugging Ben to fill in his addresses for the save the dates). I think we’ve done a good job of splitting responsibilities, for example, Ben’s managing our relationship with our caterer while I’m working on save the dates and photography.

2. We talk about our future more often and talk about long-term plans now that we know we will always be there for each other.

3. I get scolded if I forget to put on my ring (I don’t sleep with it on since that’s when the chance of a stone popping out is highest, and it doesn’t happen often, I promise!).

SITS:
TELL US ABOUT YOUR ENGAGEMENT CELEBRATION IN INDIA!!

Kalika:
What a whirlwind of a day… First let me explain that I had been expecting a pretty casual ceremony at one of my relatives’ houses, just involving a quick blessing by a priest. After traveling for over 20 hours, we arrived in Jaipur the morning of our engagement celebration and immediately went to my aunt’s house for mehndi. We were greeted by a loud traditional drummer and thrown into a dancing circle with several of my cousins. We had lunch, got our mehndi done and relaxed until it was time to get dressed. My dad and uncle whisked Ben away to get his outfit while my aunts dressed me up like a “Rajput princess” (warrior class), in an outfit very similar to what a bride would wear for an Indian wedding.

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Photo credit: Erin Kwon

We all drove together to the venue (an event lawn outside my uncle’s restaurant) but the car stopped on the side of the road before we were quite there. We were instructed to get out of the car, and into a horse-drawn carriage! After making a dramatic entrance, we were seated on a throne/couch/bench? in front of all the guests. Traditional dancers performed for us, spinning around with jugs of water then flaming pots on their heads. A CRAZY guy danced on nails and swords sharp side up with jugs of water on his head. He also breathed fire while Ben and I looked on in disbelief. I asked my dad if this performance was planned to ensure we stayed awake! After greeting many, many relatives, the night ended with dinner and fireworks. Ben said “if we had to turn around and go home right now, I’d be OK with it, but I’m glad we have 7 more days.”

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Photo credit: Erin Kwon

SITS:
How do you manage having time for your calligraphy, work, a relationship, and friendships? What tips would you give girls for creating balance in their lives?

Kalika:
This is not easy. I still struggle with this all the time. I’ve learned to not try to do everything every day; balance is much easier for me when I allot one evening to grilling with friends, one evening to riding, and one evening to calligraphy, for example. I’ll even use my Google calendar to block off time.

Ben is really good about helping out around the house when I’m hustling to meet a deadline, but encourages me to make sure it doesn’t happen too often. So, after a few stressful nights, I’ve learned to give myself more time to complete a calligraphy order than I think I’ll need.

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Can’t get enough of Kalika? Neither can I!! Check out her amazing calligraphy work on her Facebook page or Instagram (She designed the Single in The Suburbs logo on my Twitter and Facebook!). Check out her website for beautiful wedding invitations, decorations, and pretty much anything paper-related you could ever dream of.

If you’re like me and love dogs more than anything, follow her pup Trina on Instagram. She is one of the most adorably quirky gals I know. 🙂

Men Are Not Dogs

Well this is a strange headline, huh?

What I mean by “men are not dogs” is that men, unlike dogs, do not need to be trained. Yes, they should be raised to be respectful and kind, but when you are looking for a grown man to date you should absolutely not go into it with a mindset that you need to teach him how to treat you.

“I can train him to buy me flowers,” or open doors, or hold my hand, or [insert task you want your dream boyfriend to do]. It isn’t your job to mother a man, and one really surefire reality of life is that you can rarely change another person. Sure you can tell someone what you like and watch their actions closely after a conversation, but you should never go into a relationship expecting someone to change a laundry list of things for you.

I’m going to share a personal anecdote to show how I learned this lesson the hard way.

I used to date someone I really liked, but our relationship just didn’t feel  very romantic. I am someone who absolutely loves the little things in life. I adore little gestures that say “I love you” like leaving each other notes, cooking for one another, and yes — I love chivalry.

Boy #1

This first person that I dated wasn’t into showing me he loved me in any of the ways my heart wanted. I remember even telling him at one point that I thought it was nice when he opened the car door for me and I really appreciated when guys did that; this struck a pretty strong nerve for him. #1 told me he didn’t know why in the world I wanted him to do something like that and that it wasn’t worth fighting about.  I didn’t realize something like this was fight-worthy, I thought to myself. I wasn’t trying to argue, I just thought it would be nice for him to know that I appreciated the gesture so there might be a repeat. Later I realized “the door” wasn’t really even about the door at all. It was about the pile of things I felt I wasn’t getting out of this relationship. That was the most one-sided relationship I have ever been in, and although I gave up so many of my dreams for this gentleman (huge mistake; I will write about this another day!), bought him presents and little gift baskets to show that I cared, and even abided to his wishes of talking to him less,* I never felt fulfilled in our relationship, even when he did.

This wasn’t because he was doing anything wrong, though. He just didn’t show love in the ways I need to feel loved. Back then I thought I was being kind by giving him “tips” on simple ways to love me in ways I understood better, but now I realize we just weren’t the right fit.

I want someone who will remember our anniversaries and enjoy celebrating them together, someone who gives me his time, and someone who is as kind and caring to me as I am to him.

*In hindsight it is hilarious that I once “showed someone I loved them” by agreeing to cut off most of our communication.

Gentleman #2

This second person is the complete opposite of #1. He is someone I’ve often wondered how I had the pleasure of meeting, as he is one of the kindest and most thoughtful people I have ever met.

On our first date he was chivalrous, but this behavior continued seamlessly into our 30th date. He opened my car door any time we went out, always wanted to be the one to pick me up and take me out, and goes above and beyond to show me that he cares. He has written me letters, cooked complicated five course Italian dinners, and often called me during his lunch breaks just to say “hello.” This is someone I think is so incredibly special that I don’t know how I got lucky enough to meet him and see that many of the sweet little joys in life aren’t just “Krista things” that are unrealistic traits to want in a boyfriend. There are men out there who are a million times better than the ones you see in the movies. They’re real, raw, and far from perfect, but they love you so fiercely there isn’t any room for you to question where you stand in their life.

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Today’s lesson: Dogs are smart, loyal, and loving companions. You really can’t expect any human to measure up to this amazing animal, but wait for the person who does make you feel loved in the same way your dog loves you. This is a kind and selfless love with so much joy that your heart feels like it might explode.