Wear Your Retainers and Other Advice for the Next Decade

2019 really got away from me. New Year’s Eve feels like it was forever ago, but I kind of can’t believe it’s about to be a new decade.

This year has been crazy and filled with lots of new adjustments, but I haven’t felt like writing about much of it on here. My journals are filled, though, so one day maybe some stories will eventually make the cut. I have a very boring one today, so it’s unfortunate I don’t post on here more often, but I’ll do a very exciting (and kind of funny) Trader Joe’s post on Tuesday to make up for it.

I went to the dentist recently and he told me my teeth looked beautiful and were cavity-free. Great! We did see, though, that my teeth are shifting. Apparently that can happen over a decade after getting your braces off? Since I was about 14 when I got those suckers taken off, I didn’t really consider that at 29 years old I would be revisiting how to straighten teeth. Apparently this is a common problem for people my age since they weren’t doing a lot of the permanent retainers until a little more recently…? I digress.

I went home and jammed my retainers in, per the dentist’s recommendation, and they still kind of fit. The lower one is more comfortable, which is shocking because those are the teeth that look a liiiiitle more shifty. The truth is, I was always great at wearing my retainers until I got sick with POTS. Ask any of my college roommates — I had a lisp every night when I went to bed because I wanted to take great care of the expensive smile I had received as an all-too-unappreciated middle school graduation gift. POTS makes me very dehydrated, which made it very difficult to wear retainers that made my mouth feel even more dry. I stopped wearing them regularly, and I kept letting it slide for six long years.

The point of this post isn’t to bore everyone to death — though I’m really sorry if you’re already there. It’s to make the very important point that some New Year’s resolutions should be habits that you plan on forming and keeping as healthy lifestyle changes. This year I am going to create very realistic, doable resolutions that I want to carry through the next decade. I started with a vague, “I want to start doing yoga,” to making the resolution that I will work out 3 times a week, whatever that looks like. I’m already 1 workout down for this week from a Pilates class I took at home this evening.

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Jax was initially very concerned with the fact that I was lying down on the ground, but eventually realized he didn’t need to keep monitoring me so closely.
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So then he fell asleep, but stayed close in case I needed anything. Such an angel.

Another resolution was going to be, “blog twice a week,” kind of like the 2019 resolution I broke. Instead, I am making myself write every single day, but in whatever form I’d like. Whether it’s writing even just a sentence or two in my journal or doing a long essay on here, I want to keep my creative juices flowing and keep recording my memories. I tend to write either when I’m really happy about something or upset in one way or another. I would like for my writing to reflect more of my everyday life, which is probably more of just boring old contentment.

I have a million other things I’d like to do this year, but I’m keeping my resolutions simple and realistic. I am still formulating my realistic goal for “eating better,” but I’m going to figure something practical out that will still make it easy to enjoy life while being a healthier version of myself. Maybe I’ll sub a few salads into my weekly meal routine or cut back on processed foods for special occasions only. I’ll figure it out.

The new year always feels like such a beautifully fresh slate, but I don’t want this year to be like my Planet Fitness membership and only get used at the beginning of the year when I’m excited about all the new promise it offers. I want to keep my goals, continue to find new adventures to go on, and create a healthy lifestyle, rather than have an enormous bucket list of things I’ll forget about come March. That way, instead of waking up one morning with shifty teeth, I’ll have settled into good habits that keep my body and mind sharp for the long run.

Happy New Year everyone, and I can’t wait to hear about all the other goals and ideas people have for the new decade!

Dating In A Technology-Saturated World

Love is difficult enough on its own, but when you add our little black screens to the mix, things become just that much more complicated. First, let’s talk casually dating. There are a million different apps and websites you can use to meet people. Making a choice — or three — of what you want to use can dictate the kind of people you will meet. There is a dating app for everyone, whether you are looking for a farmer, a fellow vegetarian, or someone who loves Disney just as much as you do. This is great because it takes searching high and low out of the equation and sets you up with a partner who has at least some of the same interests that you do. Even using the more standard dating websites makes finding a partner a little easier because there are usually questions to answer that calculate what percent of a match you are with someone, which saves the smalltalk and goes straight for some of the biggest deal breakers like religion, smoking, or even what kind of family someone wants.

The dating culture now is different than it ever has been before because we have endless options. It is so easy to go out with a person, see a flaw you don’t like, and think, “Well, on to the next one!” when you have access to thousands of profiles online. Odds are there’s someone who fits the bill of exactly what you want, right? The problem with this rationale is that there is no such thing as a perfect person. We live in a time where if something is broken, we don’t fix it — we just get rid of it and upgrade. It isn’t worth the effort of learning how to jump over a hurdle or adapt to a new way of using something; it is far easier to just throw away a broken object than it is to put the time and effort into making ours work again. The same goes in the dating world. Far too often, as soon as someone learns about an issue, they decide to move on to find a different person without said problem. This turns into a vicious cycle in embarking on the search for perfection which, in this world, does not exist.

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Now let’s touch on solid relationships. The little black box certainly doesn’t make finding a partner easy, but once you’ve gotten one they work their little plastic butts off to make everything a little more complicated, despite their initial intention of making life easier for us. Instead of reaching to hold their partners in the morning, people reach for their phones. Rather than sitting together at the dinner table they sit on the couch in front of a television. Hours upon hours each week are spent on Facebook and scrolling mindlessly through Instagram. This whole new age of technology has greatly changed the course of our lives — for better and for worse.

At the end of the day, despite what it sometimes seems, we own technology — it does not own us. We can make our own decisions on how to use it to better our lives and enrich our relationships instead of harming them. I like using my little silver laptop to type words onto a screen and share them on here with you all. I like playing Super Smash Bros and Fortnite with my husband, and I like that I can shop no matter how I’m feeling and that there are people who will drive to my house with a piping hot pizza if I use my phone to order one. Technology is great as long as you know when to use it and how to continue to connect with your loved ones in person. This is why I harp so much on the importance of quality time spent with loved ones, rather than just time. It can be so easy to think you are pouring into others when you spend so much time with them, but if that time isn’t spent wisely it won’t really make an impact on their heart.

I still haven’t finished making my resolutions for the year, but one of them is that I am going to be more cognizant of how often I am using my phone and to put it away more when I am with my loved ones. I am going to invest more time in journaling and having heart-to-heart conversations, and be more productive about reaching my goals for this year. What are your resolutions for 2019?

New Beginnings

I rarely go out for NYE anymore, but it’s still one of my favorite holidays. I love words and symbolism, so the idea of having a clean slate is such a beautiful thing filled with possibilities. This is my favorite idiom on January 1st, and I take resolutions pretty seriously.

The past few years I’ve been choosing a “word of the year” that I try to keep as the foundation of the decisions I make. 2016 was “perseverance.” It was the year of the deployment and involved a whole lot of patience, sleepless nights, and pushing through the really hard parts. Something I remember so well about this year was running away from my thoughts at the gym. I often rode the recumbent bike and pushed harder and harder to try to escape from the difficult parts of life. As I’ve grown up I’ve found my coping mechanisms for hardship involve either working out, or doing my hair and makeup for no reason other than to feel like I have control over something when I can’t do anything about certain things life throws my way. I have a hard time dealing when people do things that hurt me, and I begin to feel claustrophobic when I know there’s nothing I can do about the way others behave or the fact that my health is declining despite working hard to feel good. Finding things I can control when it feels like things are spiraling has been so helpful to my heart.

I skipped 2017 because I felt too busy and excited for Robert’s homecoming. I wrote all about trying to get Tom Brady to come greet him at the airport, then about what our reunion was actually like. It happened to be perfect, even without the greatest quarterback there with us. We started a normal life together this year, and I focused on being in the present a lot. This past year was supposed to be “Fearless,” but as I’ve said a few times before I failed miserably at this word for 2018. I didn’t leave my comfort zone enough, and I gave up on a lot of my writing because I felt scared of sharing my intimate thoughts with the Internet. One of the reasons Single in The Suburbs really took off in the beginning was because I was able to candidly talk about my life without much of a filter or fear of being judged. I loved being open about the dating world with everyone because I realized that my dating life was just as uncomfortable, frustrating, and fun as every other twenty-somethings. I embraced the awkwardness, shared my weirdest stories, and ultimately tried to help other people realize they weren’t alone in anything. We all were having a hard time trying to find love and meeting someone who really understood our heart.

My problem now is that I don’t always feel as relatable anymore. I feel like nobody understands the pain that I have (Even though I know they do, and so many have been through so much more), I am more guarded and protective of my relationships, and I am afraid of the shadows of strangers that lurk on the Internet. Instead of feeling like I have a nice space where I can share without being judged, I feel like there are so many people who are cruel to others for having a different opinion, and “different” is a word that seems to define me. I can’t always relate to normal twenty-something’s lives, but I rarely find myself feeling insecure about being different. I was raised to love and be kind to everyone — whether or not they are similar to me — and I don’t understand the culture that accepts being cruel as a way to show disagreement. The Internet is plagued with trolls and people who get a kick out of tearing others down, which makes sharing any sort of opinion frightening.

This year I asked my Instagram friends to help me choose a word. We were either going to focus on “Joy,” or try “Fearless” one last time. The vote fluctuated from leaning heavily on “fearless,” to giving “joy” the lead later in the day. They switched back and forth a few times, and I liked that people seemed interested in both words, but ultimately I landed on FEARLESS for my word of 2019. I chose it for a few different reasons. First, I think it’s more difficult for me. Joy is something that comes more naturally with my personality, and although it’s been more of a struggle through times of hardship, I am always going to try to be joyful — regardless of the circumstances in life I cannot control. It doesn’t matter whether it’s 2019 or a decade later, I don’t see that changing about me. I like a challenge and being fearless this year certainly is going to be just that. I don’t want to lose the part of my heart that makes me kind, but I need to get my edge back that makes me more resilient to other humans.

Finally, I got some words of wisdom from a friend that if I live fearlessly, joy will come along with that. This was exactly what I needed to hear to pull the trigger and choose 2019 as the year of living fearlessly. I want this to impact several parts of my life. I am going to start writing on here more about things that matter to me — even in the areas where I feel like I’m different than the majority. I am going to face my fear of rejection in more than one area of my life, and I am going to pace myself for the dreams I want to chase. Finally, I’m going to teach myself that I am more valuable than what my body can and can’t do. One of my biggest fears since getting sick with POTS has been whether or not I could still be a valuable part of the world, even when I feel like I’m at my worst. Exploring what makes me special is a surprisingly scary thing because what I used to really value and love about myself was different before I got sick. I had very different goals and things I wanted to do in my life, but my trajectory drastically changed five summers ago. This is going to be a year where I take care of myself and learn how to be brave, even when it’s hard. 2019, get ready to be fearless. 

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Photo Credit: Katie Nesbitt Photography

Happy New Year!

New Years Eve is has been strange for me a few years now. It’s always been one of my favorite holidays, as I love making resolutions and having a fresh start.

Many of you know that I was diagnosed with a chronic illness about 3 years ago now, but I’ll write a little bit more about that another day for those of you who don’t know my story.

I’ve learned that NYE is actually a really hard time for young twentysomethings with chronic illnesses. Most of our friends are out drinking and celebrating, while it’s not always quite so simple for us spoonies. There is a lot of planning ahead for a night out in the town, and even if we get out there can be other complications.

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It’s really difficult sometimes feeling like my life is so vastly different from my friends, and although it’s a lot less frequent, I still get frustrated that I can’t have a “normal” life.

One of my New Year’s resolutions is to focus more on what I can do.

It’s hard each year seeing health resolutions that are not met, but this year I am going to make resolutions I can actually control. Instead of saying that by next year I am going to be without chronic pain, I am resolving to be more diligent about my exercises and going to the gym. Instead of saying that I want to be able to move to a crazy city by myself next year, I am going to make the resolution to write more and be creative about making adventures for myself around here until I can venture off on my own.

Making more realistic resolutions is going to be rewarding and I am excited that they require daily work that I will do every week to get closer to my ultimate goal of getting better.