Hi! Who are the ten people who visit this site every day? I was really surprised to see my blog still gets views, despite being super inactive this year.
I’m sitting here with an everything bagel and glass of water, thinking about how fitting it is to have such an unappetizing pair for breakfast. I feel like, as a writer, I should embellish and talk about drinking something more beautiful like a hot cup of coffee — water just doesn’t sound as poetic as the power couple of coffee and a bagel. It’s very 2020 to just be real and not try to make things seem better than they are. This was a very real year, and I have appreciated all the honesty we’ve seen.
2020 has clearly been super weird, with lots of highs and lows. As someone who does have a chronic illness to monitor, I have been conservative with COVID stuff, following the CDC’s guidelines, and embracing *~social distancing~* for what it is. I’ve acquired new hobbies at home, and decided that since cooking and eating go hand in hand, I want to be the best darn cook possible. I even mastered risotto last week, which was a major pain in the butt the first time I tried it.
Let me catch you up to date on where I am now. This year has been busy, despite spending it at home. We sold our house recently, and are full force shopping for a new home. Our dog, Jax, recently had surgery to remove what we now know is a stage 2 low grade mast cell tumor. I seem to have sympathy pains for Jax, as my Eustachian tube is blocked (seriously, tell me how to unclog a blocked Eustachian tube because it is driving me up a wall!) and just won’t go away. Jax has my heart and I would do anything for that pup. I am moving forward now and just doing all the practical things that need to be done for a dog with an issue like this. It’s funny how I can handle my own health problems better than my dog’s, but anyone who has had a pet understands I’m sure.
I turned 30 this year, and despite always saying that I didn’t think 30 seemed old, it feels weird. I can’t write about how I’m a “twentysomething” anymore, and it does feel like a new stage in life. Part of that is probably the nature of laying low this year, though.
2020 was hard, but I am grateful for health of myself and loved ones. Life becomes a lot simpler when you know what it’s like to lose something as basic as your health. It makes it easier to be thankful for little things, and not sweat the small stuff. There is a light at the end of the tunnel, even if it’s still a little ways away, and one day we’re going to remember some of the fonder memories from this year. We’ll remember trying new things to entertain ourselves at home, lots of quality time with a select few loved ones, why it’s important to cherish every moment we have on earth, and finally, that 2020 was the year of figuring out the secret to the perfect banana bread.
I usually do a “word of the year,” along with some small resolutions, but this year I am going to skip doing anything, and continue to take each day as it comes at me. Happy new year, and let’s hope that despite Netflix taking The Office away from us, we can make the most of our circumstances this year. I’m going to go make some coffee now, because it’s all I’ve been able to think about after rambling about my glass of water earlier.
Alright, so I still have not done a pumpkin post, not because I haven’t been to Trader Joe’s lately, but because there honestly isn’t as much pumpkin stuff as I remembered in the past. Sure there are a few sauces and baking mixes, but I remember years before having a million pumpkin things I was excited to try. One of these weeks I’ll muster up the energy to find five pumpkin things I’d like to try, but until then we’re going to do a few of my favorite fall items.
1. Envy Apples Envy apples are freaking amazing. Like, they’re the best apples you’ll ever eat. They’re super crispy and taste like a more tart version of their cousin, the Gala apple. Trader Joe’s is kind of cool too because they charge you by the fruit, not by the pound, so you can just pick out the best apple of the bunch and feel like you’re getting a great deal.
2. Cinnamon Bun Spread Have you ever smelled a candle and wished you could eat it? If candle eating resonates with you, this jar of cinnamon might just be your thing. The texture is almost like melted wax and if I could waft the scent around my home, it would smell like fall potpourri. I’ve read quite a bit about this cinnamon bun spread before, but never tried it until a couple of days ago. When I was at TJ’s contemplating this purchase, I saw that the first ingredient is honey, which I’m all for. I wasn’t the biggest fan, but I’m kind of glad I got it and I have a feeling I’ll crave this spread anytime I light a fall candle in my home. It should last me the entire season. Who knows, maybe I’ll come up with a better way of eating it than on the back of a shortbread cookie!
3. Organic Strawberries
Fall isn’t necessarily known to be strawberry picking season, which is why I was pleasantly surprised when I smelled how fresh the strawberries were from over a foot away. These ended up being so good that I ate the entire box in two sittings — and already went back for another bundle I’ve almost finished.
4. Mini Peanut Butter Cups
Halloween is coming up, which means it’s time to break out the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. Except these are even better. I sometimes get a stomachache from eating too many, so be careful how many you let yourself have because they’re addicting!
5. Pumpkin Dog Treats I think it was a real missed opportunity not calling these Pupkin Treats, but it is what it is. Jax and Macy both love these dog treats that are made with real pumpkin. As I was writing this I thought about how I was going to tell you that they smell just like a human pumpkin snack, and it dawned on me that I might be able to take a bite and tell you whether or not it tasted like one, too. I went to check the ingredients and here’s what I found:
Okay, I know what wheat is and despite being gluten-free, a little won’t kill me. Pumpkin is fine, so is cane molasses. So far so good! Typical Trader Joe’s, making dog treats something good enough for humans to eat. Bravo. Canola oil is another check next to “human ingredient,” and so is ground cinnamon. I don’t know what citric acid is, but I’ve also seen it on my own nutrition labels before. What in the world is “Mixed Tocopherols?!” My laptop is recognizing it as a word, but I certainly don’t. First possibly scary ingredient, but I’m assuming it’s a pretty typical preservative (which, in anyone’s defense, can be scary in human foods too). Lastly, Rosemary extract. Something I am familiar with. Well, I guess I gotta go for it then! For the sake of the blog.
I took a bite on my Instagram story earlier and it was totally gross. Despite smelling like a biscotti I would be happy to dip in my coffee, it tasted like crunchy, wheat flavored cardboard. I have no idea why Jax and Macy love these so much, but I see why in my 28 years on earth I’ve never had the desire to try a dog treat. I could have gone my whole life without making this weird decision.
Anyway, I know I posted a little late today, but I hope you find something new to try next time you’re at Trader Joe’s. Please don’t let my poor review of dog treats and candle flavored cinnamon goo deter you from trying something new or getting a treat for your pup while you’re out. I promise they’ll like it!
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!).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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’trealize 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.
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.
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.
Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. I love getting dressed up and going out with my friends and I like having an excuse to eat as much candy as my heart desires. People watching is always a fun pastime, and I feel like October 31 is the very best day of the year for it.
This year was different because almost all of my best friends are in relationships, so there wasn’t any sort of group costume planned — they all wanted to do couples costumes with their boyfriends.
So naturally I decided I needed to dress up with my bae too.
Macy and I dressed as Batgirl, and wore matching yellow ribbons in our hair. She was easily cuter than any boyfriend I will ever have (Sorry, guys! Dogs just always trump y’all), and is a great little cuddle buddy to come home to at night.
Today’s lesson: Dogs really are the best friend a girl could ever ask for.