An Almost Happy Mother’s Day

I’m someone who feels deeply. That’s what makes me a great friend, listener, girlfriend, and a decent writer. I don’t think I am incredibly unique in most things in life, but one thing I think I do better than most is feel empathy.

The reason I say I feel too deeply is that I sometimes let other people’s feelings dictate my own. Those feelings aren’t always even necessarily real; for example, if I see someone eating lunch all alone, instead of immediately realizing that they might be enjoying some time to themselves to think, I make up a story in my mind about how they are unhappy about being alone because of the way they look down at the table when they take a bite of their sandwich. My heart immediately tells my head that I want to give that person a hug, and wish that it was socially appropriate to do so to make other people feel better.

There are many times in my life I have prayed to God, begging him to take a friend or family member’s pain and transfer it to myself instead. I hate seeing others hurting in any capacity, which is why my ultimate goal of writing so much is to help people feel less alone in life. I want everyone — even the people who read my blog that I haven’t met in real life — to feel like they always have me around to hold their hand through tough times.


Warning: If you don’t want to hear a sad story, stop reading now!

There, I said it. You’ve been warned.

The past ten days had been really exciting for me. As most of you know, Robert bought his first home soon after he got back from his deployment and I spend a lot of my time hanging out over there. About ten days ago I found a nest on one of the beams of his top deck. He told me excitedly that a Robin had been building her nest there for several days now, and that she had been gathering ribbons, pieces of hay, twigs, and grass to construct her little home while he worked on his yard.

I’m a huge animal lover, so I was elated to hear that we had a new little pet — and would soon have little babies to watch grow up! This was such a special gift from God, and I was going to document all of it. After all, my yard back home has a lot of baby squirrels and chipmunks, but I’ve never seen a bird’s nest so close to the ground before.

Every time I went to Robert’s I looked forward to seeing my Robin friend. She was so beautiful and sweet, and I couldn’t believe how dedicated she was to her little unborn babies. She would only leave her nest for ten minutes at a time to go out for food or to patch up her bed. I took pictures of her whenever I’d go over, and seeing her little tail feathers always made me so happy. Even though her back was to me, she would turn her head to the side to watch me out of the corner of her eye. I liked to think that she knew that I was kind too, and that she appreciated the little snacks I would sometimes leave her. After all, I was like a member of her little family, and I wanted to take care of her and her babies.

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About a week after meeting our Robin friend I woke up with a start. I was at home, but my thoughts weren’t there with me. I heard the rain pouring on our roof, and I immediately felt sick. My sweet girl and her eggs don’t have any shelter from the rain, I thought. I need to fix this.

I got out of bed and hurried to get my POTS symptoms under control before I made the trip over to Robert’s house. It was a work day so he wasn’t there, but I knew I needed to go take care of our little friend. I grabbed some potential things to create a shelter with, such as a rain poncho and an oversized trash bag, and set off.

When I arrived to his home I rushed downstairs to see if she was still there. Low and behold, she was still sitting diligently on what I had imagined was a trio of light blue eggs. I smiled at her, but I knew I had work to do. A little bit of rain was coming through the cracks of the porch, but I was even more concerned with the cool temperature mixed with the dampness.

I hurried upstairs and began rearranging the deck furniture by pushing it around with my butt since my arms aren’t much of a help for heavy objects. As I was doing this, I knew I would hurt immensely the next day, but I was determined to help this innocent little animal and her family. Her needs were greater than my own, and I would rather feel like I did everything I could to help her be comfortable than have anything happen to her.

I ripped through the poncho to make it expand to it’s greatest possible size, and began sticking little objects on all four corners of the plastic to keep it from moving. I tried to place it directly above where I suspected the nest was, but it was hard to tell, as the slats were so small and it was difficult to see through the pouring rain. I was cold and wet even through my rain jacket, but all I could think about was our little pet.

After adjusting the poncho several times, the Robin flew over and perched on the fence, almost as if she was asking me, “What the heck are you doing up there, Krista?! Stop frightening my babies. We’ll be fine in the rain; God made us so that we can survive through it.”

That was when I realized my efforts, though they were well-intended, were unnecessary. I figured if it was still raining later that evening I would get some help placing the canopy above her so that I didn’t have to keep disturbing our guest.


After Robert and I saw a late showing of Guardians of The Galaxy, we trekked back to his house to relax and check on our friend. I was worried about her. I was wearing sweatpants and a windbreaker and I was cold. Cold and wet are never a good combination, and I was concerned about the possibility of hypothermia.

“Can birds catch hypothermia?” I Googled. The answer was yes, and I wondered whether or not the nest our Robin had built was as good as a typical bird’s nest. Somehow it seemed a bit strange to me that she built it on a man-made object, rather than high up in a tree, and I hoped that our bird was smart enough to trust her animal instincts.

Robert told me that we could take she and her nest into his basement if it seemed like she really needed it. I smiled at the thought, and was happy that he was either willing to humor me or genuinely wanted to take great care of this bird. Either way, I felt like I had a really great boyfriend.

We made it home and I rushed downstairs to check on her. I noticed that her tail was facing toward the door still, but she turned around to peek at me as soon as the back light went on. I smiled at her, told her she was a beautiful little bird, and to sleep well. I felt good that she looked warm and taken care of. I would be able to rest easy, and her eggs would hatch in the next few days when the sun came out again.

They didn’t, though.


Two days later as I was preparing to go to Robert’s house he texted me a heads up that he hadn’t seen our Robin in quite some time. We knew she was only supposed to leave her nest for ten minutes at a time, so it was suspect that he hadn’t seen her for 12+ hours. He said he didn’t want to tell me sooner because he had hoped she would come back home before I went back to his house.

My mind darted from one scenario to the next. Maybe she was just out searching for food? Maybe she was watching her nest from afar? Maybe Robert had just been checking at the wrong times? Deep down in the pit of my stomach, though, I knew something bad had happened. I wasn’t sure if it was only to the mother, though, or to everything that was in the nest.

I told him to peek inside the nest to see if there were eggs there. He couldn’t see, as it was too high, so I told him to take a photo with his iPhone. As he worked on that, I hung up and called the local animal shelter to see if they would have an egg incubator. Something told me that the mother bird hadn’t come back to the nest because something had happened to her while she was gone searching for food.

“Hello?” a friendly voice answered.

“Yes, hi, I know this is probably a really goofy request, but I — well, actually my boyfriend — has a bird’s nest in his backyard and the Robin who has been sitting in it has been gone for a long time and I’m afraid her eggs are going to get cold and the babies are going to die so I need an incubator to take care of them. Can you help me with that?” My sentences barely made sense and all ran together like mush.

“I’ll transfer you to the right people to help you with that,” she said, still happy despite the fact she probably thought she was speaking with a crazy person. “You’re going to be speaking with the fire and rescue department.”

I’m still not quite sure that was who she actually transferred me to, as I was feeling a bit overwhelmed at the time, but it was something to do with the fire department. I felt really bad inconveniencing them, and hoped that they had enough people manning the phones that I wouldn’t get in the way of a real emergency, but they immediately helped me get into contact with “animal control.” After explaining my situation a third time, they said that the mother would hopefully come back, but that there wasn’t really much humans could do to help in this instance. We just had to sit back and wait.

I figured this would be the case, but I wanted to make absolutely certain that I had done my part. I even went as far as to create a Facebook status asking if anyone had egg incubators, and was prepared to drain my bank account to make these fragile little eggs turn into tiny bodies that I could care for if the mother was gone for good. I would do whatever it took to take care of these birds.

That was when I got Robert’s text, accompanied by a picture.

“The nest is empty!”

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What? How strange, I thought. I had considered that something might have happened to the Robin, but somehow the nest seemed safe since there were no signs of an intruder on the ground. Maybe she was just confused, I thought. Could she have been a little bit crazy and just thought that she was sitting on eggs in the nest? Maybe this Robin was a first-time mother and had just done something wrong.

My heart felt so much relief. Our girl is okay, and we didn’t lose any babies! I was happy. I would surely miss our beautiful friend, but she was probably just off to bigger and better things.


I arrived at Robert’s house a few moments later. I had been rushing over to his place because I wanted to be there to help in any way I could once we had reached the proper authorities.

I parked my car and walked happily up to his home. Even though we didn’t have any of our guardian duties left, I told him I would come wait at his house until my best friend came to pick me up for our lunch date.

When I walked inside, I greeted Robert and his friend who were just getting ready to play Madden. We had a friendly conversation, and I distractedly went to the kitchen to prepare for mine and Audrey’s best friend date. I had created a little box of presents for her and wanted the presentation to look nice when she opened it, so I rearranged everything.

“I’m going to go see if the Robin is hanging out somewhere close to your backyard!” I said as I started toward the basement stairs. The look Robert and his friend gave me was unnerving. I immediately knew they had found something that wasn’t good. In true male fashion, they went back and forth about how bad the scene was in the yard, and warned that I did not want to go back there. I felt tears behind my eyes, but I didn’t want to cry in front of them, so I said I had to meet my friend and rushed out.

I went to my car and cried. Like, the Kim Kardashian, “I just lost my $100,000 diamond earrings” kind of ugly cry. I buried my face in my hands and didn’t try to make myself stop. I called Audrey, as I knew she would understand — after all, she was the person I had left dozens of messages about our Robin to, and share everything with.

She offered some comfort, and told me she would be there soon enough so we could go out and have a better day together.


Overall I realize that losing a few baby birds isn’t an “end of the world” moment or even something that will define the rest of my life in any way. It’s unfortunately just part of the circle of life, and things like this happen every single day. I do think it’s really beautiful, though, that human beings can feel so connected to little creatures that don’t have anything to showcase except their beauty and innocence. It’s amazing that we want so desperately to protect little lives that seem so fragile and how our hearts can care so deeply for creatures that we really don’t even know very much about.

The way people treat animals and show compassion and care toward others can be one of the most incredible things life has to offer. A gentle heart can be a world-changer, even if it’s just the world of a small animal or a stranger you will never see again. For these little reasons, I think that it’s so important to give a compassionate heart to everyone you meet and always be kind. You never know when just a tiny bit of your love will offer someone the hope they need to keep pushing forward and working toward a better life.

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My grandpa drew these robins for me before our Robin even moved in. MC

The last thing this little bird reminded me was that life is such a fragile thing and we should appreciate every second we have with our loved ones on this earth. It may sound kind of strange, but every time I see a bird now I think of what a little miracle he is. He has overcome all of the crazy obstacles life throws at him — like inclement weather and predators — and continues to fight every single day to take care of himself and keep himself alive. The circle of life can be sad, but it’s also one of the most inspirational things I could possibly think of.


*Update*

Robert has since seen our Robin sitting on his yard’s fence. He said that she looks happy, but she hasn’t made a trip back to her nest. We decided that we are going to discourage any other birds from building there since it is probably too low to the ground to really be safe from predators, but I know our Robin is going to be the mother of some sweet little red-breasted babies one day, and I’ll surely always think of her when I see a robin in the wild.

Busy Bee

Ahhh guys, I have an exciting announcement I will be making next week!

There are two projects I’ve been working on, and I will be writing about the second project incredibly soon. I have put a lot of thought and work into it, and I really can’t wait to share.

I feel bad that I’ve neglected this blog a little lately, I’ve just been so darn busy and only have so much arm strength to push forward. My POTS symptoms have gone haywire lately too, so I’ve needed a lot more rest and recovery time for everything. Thank you for still visiting Single in The Suburbs, and I will update you all SOON! ❤

Mighty Letters

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

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

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

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

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

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Photo Credit: The lovely Audrey Denison

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

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

Officer’s Ball

If you follow me on Instagram you’ve probably already seen photos and little stories from this past weekend, but I am going to write a little about the ball, as promised.

Robert and I made our way to Richmond on Friday after my physical therapy appointment. I love traveling with him because we always have something to talk about and don’t just sit and listen to music the entire time.

We were hungry, so we stopped off at a little diner along the way.

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As many of you know, I am now gluten-free (And don’t eat nighthshade veggies, a few random fruits, or very much dairy) so it’s always a little annoying trying to find something good to eat. I was a little concerned about diner food, as it’s sometimes not the freshest produce, but I can almost always find something to eat anywhere.

Guys. I need to go back and get the name of the diner, because this was some of the best restaurant food I could have asked for! They had homemade hummus and the freshest fruit I’ve had at a restaurant. So good!

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After that we hit the road again, and enjoyed each other’s company until we finally arrived at our hotel. Robert carried all of the bags with the exception of my purse and pillow (I do not travel light now that I have POTS to care for!), and we rested a bit before getting ready to go out to dinner and to the rest of the Army events that evening.

I chose the restaurant we went to — Texas Roadhouse — and we had a nice time catching up with some of Robert’s friends before going back to the hotel and mingling in some of their hospitality suites. I am still incredibly new to all things military so it’s kind of overwhelming trying to follow some of the conversations. My go-to move is smiling and nodding when someone says something I don’t understand. I’ll ask one or two questions, but I don’t want to essentially be quizzing officers on what their career entails, so I try to remember my questions to ask Robert later in the evening.

The next morning I woke up and ordered room service while I listened to a book on tape and got ready for the day. This was not only a ball, but it was also some sort of Officer’s Conference, so I attended the “military spouse” meeting that morning. After that I enjoyed more room service, and talked to my best friend while I waited for Robert to get back.

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There’s something really relaxing about pampering yourself in a nice, soft hotel bed. Every time I sleep over somewhere I feel inspired to redo my room in the simplest way with just a giant, fluffy white comforter and maybe even a butler to bring me breakfast in bed. My dream Sunday mornings involve hot chocolate, pancakes, warm blankets, snuggling, and a good rom com.

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I slowly munched on my food as I got ready for the evening gala. I had a blast trying on my dresses again and trying to figure out which one to wear, along with what lipstick color I wanted to pick for the occasion. I know, I know — I could have done all of this at home. It was hard picking which dress made me feel better that day.

Up until the evening before I thought I would be wearing this formfitting white dress. I liked that it was elegant, a little sparkly, and perfect for springtime. The back had a gorgeous cutout, and although it wasn’t the princessy look I initially wanted to go for, I felt really good in it. At the last minute, though, I decided I liked my second option just a little bit better.

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So I went with a blue dress instead!

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We had a really nice evening filled with conversation, food, and meeting new people. It wasn’t really what I had expected — the major complaint was that there was absolutely no dancing — but I still had a nice time and loved having the opportunity to dress up. Not to mention I got to see Robert in a dress uniform, which was kind of a fun occasion! I also didn’t feel way too sick until the end of the evening, which is always a major plus.

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I told Robert that since there wasn’t any dancing that he would have to take me to another ball in the near future. After all, that was what I was looking forward to the most! I’ve never been to such a fun, fancy event with a boyfriend before, so we’ll just have to go to another that will have a DJ who will play Usher, Taylor Swift, and Selena Gomez so we can dance the night away.

The Highs Match The Lows

Sigh, I have been going through a rough patch lately. I know life definitely has its ups and downs, which makes me feel optimistic that some beautiful sunshine is right around the corner, but it doesn’t always make the downs easy to manage in the moment.

I’ve been super-sick on and off for just over a month now. I know that sounds goofy, especially since I’ve been chronically ill for almost four years now, but it makes everything a lot more complicated on top of just dealing with the symptoms I’ve become used to. My bright side to all of this? Thank goodness my immunity has been stronger than ever the past couple of years and that I’ve stayed away from sick people enough that I rarely have episodes like this.

It’s made writing infinitely more difficult, though, as well as going to the gym. I haven’t had my normal routine which has thrown me off, and I would be willing to bet that most girls can relate to my whole “I’m a lot more emotional that time of the month” talk.

Truth is, right now I miss my old “normal.” I miss running more than anything. I miss going outside to play volleyball with my friends — even when I didn’t have a good setter to help me hit — I miss being able to go grocery shopping by myself, and I miss baking. I miss always being the one to offer to drive because my car is more roomy and because I enjoy driving. I miss having the freedom to drive places just because I want to, not because I have to be somewhere, and I miss relying on myself for most aspects of my life.

It’s been really, really hard for me to get to a point where I can ask people for help. In fact, I’m still not there yet. I still have a lot of trouble telling friends that I can’t drive as far as they’d like me to in order to hang out, I hate dropping the “the Metro makes me nauseous” bomb because yes, I know nobody wants to drive into DC, and I miss being able to go to DC whenever I want.

My parents were out of town last week, which made life infinitely harder. I didn’t have someone cooking and cleaning for me at home, and I had to take care of my little puppy by myself. I don’t think I can really emphasize how much I hate to admit that I need other people to help take care of me.

At just twenty six years old losing some of your independence is a really tough thing to come to grips with. I want to make my own money, I want to have freedom to travel, and I want to be able to drive all over the place whenever I want to! I like spending some time by myself, but it can be difficult to do that outside of the house and when I can’t drive myself around to go on little “Krista dates.”

My bright side today is just going to be that I know there are a lot of blessings to come. Something that is giving me comfort today is Deuteronomy 31:8, where God promises that He will be by my side no matter what I have to face in life.

“The LORD Himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave or forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”

I also got some messages from my best friend, who knows I’m dealing with a lot, and will be sharing some of her wisdom in the near future. I guess I can count that as a major blessing today — along with the many other people I sometimes forget are my friend, despite my life changing so drastically. In the meantime, I’m really excited that it’s almost the weekend, and I am going to make the most of the evening by watching an episode of The Office and eating some unhealthy microwave popcorn before bed.

Update

I just wanted to let y’all know I haven’t been feeling so great lately, which is why I’ve been MIA on here. I have lots to write about, but it’ll have to wait until I’m a little better. Love you all, and thank you so much for still coming to my site even though I’ve been away! ❤

What’s In My [Makeup] Bag?

Okay, so it’s been forever since I told y’all I was moving to cruelty-free beauty products, but I finally feel like I’ve tried enough to actually share some reviews. I have subscribed to a few different beauty boxes — ipsy, Birchbox, and FabFitFun — and am a VIP member at Sephora now that I have been in so many times to switch up my beauty routine.

I decided to do my review in a similar manner some of the subscription boxes do, by showing off one of my favorite makeup bags with 5 products I recommend. The reason I’m linking everything to Sephora’s website is because I joined their beauty program that lets you pay just $10 for free shipping on any order for a year. What?!

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A big “Thank You” to my good friend Jenni for the Macy-inspired makeup bag!

Without further ado, here are a few of my “Must Have” cruelty-free staples:

Tarte Lights, Camera, Lashes Mascara
Let me start off by saying I love Tarte cosmetics. Every product I have tried I’ve really enjoyed, but this mascara is thebomb.com. Not only does it give my lashes volume, but it lengthens them and gives them a beautifully full look. I really could not say enough great things about this mascara, and between the cruelty-free testing and incredible product, Tarte has a new lifetime customer.

Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion
I didn’t know the power of primer until I started using this baby. Currently I am kind of obsessed with bronze and gold eyeshadows, so I use my Naked palette or Pure Cosmetics shadows over the primer to create a fun everyday look. The Urban Decay eyeshadow primer makes these colors so much more pigmented than they would be on your naked eye, and sets a really nice foundation to add eyeliner to if desired.

Edward Bess Deep Shine Lipgloss
Oh my gosh. The way this lipgloss smells combined with its stay-power is amazing. It takes a little bit of getting used to, as it’s a stickier formula than I’m used to, but after just a couple of wears I have become a loyal fan.

Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-on Eye Pencil
It’s safe to say UD is one of my favorite makeup brands, (Along with Tarte and Jane Iredale) and I was so relieved to hear that they are also cruelty-free. My favorite eyeliner color is “Perversion,” as it’s a super-basic black that can go with any kind of look. I would say it’s a bit on the heavier side, though, so use it sparingly!

Zoya Nailpolish
Anyone who knows me will vouch that I always have some sort of fun polish on my nails. Needless to say I was devistated when I found out that OPI does, in fact, test on animals, and that my enormous polish collection had to be done away with. Thankfully, though, my last FabFitFun box had a beautiful subtle pink shade of cruelty-free brand Zoya nailpolish. I am in love with this brand now, and can’t wait to try other colors. It’s really reasonably priced and has incredibly trendy colors. Horray for loving animals and beauty!


What cruelty-free products do you think should be a staple in my beauty bag? I would love more recommendations, so sound off in the comments!

Feature Friday: Capturing Beauty

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

K:
Umm, of course I do!

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

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

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

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

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

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

K:
What is your favorite thing about photography?

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

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

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

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


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


IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT: I’M MOVING!

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

A Letter From A “Slow Walker”

There is often a lot of talk about how annoying “slow walkers” are. I have always fallen into the “annoyed” category since God gave me long legs at birth.

When I was 22 I got sick with a chronic illness — Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome. It started off as a debilitating sickness. I could only walk about twelve feet without resting, and could only make the long journey up a flight of stairs to my bed once a day with the help of my parents and taking little breaks between climbing a few steps and sitting down to rest until I reached the top.

When I was finally well enough to go out of the house for a fifteen minute errand to the grocery store it was a big deal. I felt like I had this tiny piece of normalcy in my life, even though I felt constantly dizzy and nauseous.

Wegmans was my number one choice for a field trip, and I wanted to see if I could go find a salty snack and chocolate bar while I was there. One salty snack, one sweet treat. That’s it.

I walked to the dessert aisle first, as it was closer to the entrance, and my eyes grazed over dozens of choices. The room spun as I tried to read new labels, and my body started to gently sway. I knew I wasn’t feeling well enough to stay in this upright position much longer, but I was determined to be normal again — at least for a few minutes. I snagged a bar I thought might be halfway decent and took each step to the popcorn aisle as carefully as I possibly could. I didn’t want to fall, and I absolutely was not about to faint in public for the first time — not today.

As I put one foot in front of the other I vaguely noticed the bustling around me. I felt mildly panicked as I began to realize I shouldn’t be alone anymore and that my heart was racing the way it does when I’m about to pass out. My eyes slowly scanned the aisle, and I couldn’t feel my footing anymore. My feet were still planted firmly on the ground, but my head was spinning in circles.

“What the hell is her problem,” I hear behind me. I turn, dazed, as a woman my mom’s age firmly nudged me into the shelf that held some sort of food I couldn’t quite make out. It wasn’t until I was intentionally lying on the ground* to get the blood to flow back to my brain moments later that it all clicked. I was the one with the “problem.”

Tears welled up behind my foggy eyes. I had never been different before, and I wasn’t used to having a disability. No one could tell by looking at me that I was sick, but my body reminded me every second of every day that I was ill. The room kept spinning, but somehow I kept thinking.

I was a heavy mix of angry, frustrated, and devastated. Why aren’t people more patient? Why can’t we have some sort of label for the chronically ill so that people would know I need extra help? But wait, why can’t people just be kind to others in general and realize that you never know what someone else is going through by of the way they look? 

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These are questions I never really thought about before I got sick. I am guilty of complaining to friends about “slow walkers,” moody waiters, and distracted baristas. Having a chronic illness has taught me the very important lesson that just because someone looks fine doesn’t mean that they are. People can have a hard time for a number of different reasons, and instead of making their life any more difficult by making snarky remarks or getting frustrated, we should all take a minute to practice patience and kindness. After all, even if someone doesn’t need it, there is never any harm in being kind to others and treating them the way you would like to be treated. Sure people can be frustrating sometimes, but is the hustle and bustle and rush of life really worth hurting another human? Is whatever you are rushing to really worth upsetting anyone over? I think the answer for most of us if we sat down and thought about it would be “no.”


*This is a tactic POTSies use to ward off some of our symptoms and feel a little better, hence the “Postural” in “POTS.”

What To Do When You Get Diagnosed With A Chronic Illness

Getting sick with a chronic condition is life-changing and confusing. I have become a bit of a pro when it comes to being sick, so here are a few tips on what to do if you or someone you love ever get diagnosed with a chronic illness:

  1. First and foremost, do not panic. Take a second to breathe, and realize that just because you now have a name to label your symptoms doesn’t mean it’s going to get worse here on out. If anything it actually gets much better since you are able to explain why certain things happen to your body and how to treat them.
  2. Realize that it’s normal and okay to cry. Doctors have seen it all, and if they’re good at their profession they will be sympathetic towards your feelings (And if they’re not, it’s definitely not you — it’s them).
  3. Do not go on Google! I cannot stress how important it is to process everything before reading dozens of articles and Facebook forums about your illness. Whether it’s an absolutely extreme version of your illness or a post venting about how difficult life becomes with this condition, there isn’t a lot that will help you out that very same day. Give yourself a little time and ask your doctor questions, rather than relying on WebMD to give you a cure. I found that negativity can really have a direct effect on your health and healing, which is why I try to keep things as stress-free as humanly possible.Screen Shot 2017-03-20 at 1.54.29 PM.png
  4. On a related note, make sure to find out how to contact your doctor in case you need to reach someone with a question about symptoms you might be having. Most doctors who deal with people with chronic conditions have a way of reaching them, whether it’s a nurse hotline or an email address. I have a neurologist who offers an in-home service where I can email him with questions or prescription refill requests, and he replies within a day. It’s been a really valuable resource and I tend to stick with the doctors who really care about their patients.
  5. If a little bit of time goes by and you’re still afraid to research what you have, ask a family member or friend to do some research for you — then leave out the really unhelpful negative information. I’ve found a lot of people with chronic conditions can be incredibly pessimistic and bitter — and they have every right to be! But the more you can try to keep your spirits high and look towards your bright future, the better off you will be. I very firmly believe in the power of positive thinking, and although that may not be able to heal your body, it can at least keep your mind in a healthy state.
  6. If you do have a hard time staying positive about life, though, there is absolutely no shame in seeing a therapist or counselor to vent your frustrations to. Never feel bad about needing extra help. It doesn’t mean you aren’t strong — sometimes I think being able to ask for help is the hardest thing a person can do, but it can be life-changing.
  7. Lastly, be open with friends and family about what you need. It can be difficult for loved ones to know how to react or behave when someone close to them gets sick, but that doesn’t mean they don’t want to be there for you. Giving people a very concrete thing they could do to help — such as talking on the phone for fifteen minutes a day or making a meal for you and your family — is actually really helpful.
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I never in a million years thought I would ever need a wheelchair at 22 years old, but by the time I traveled to take this picture I was able to make light of a difficult situation.

I know how scary and life-changing getting a chronic illness is. I remember getting diagnosed with POTS like it was yesterday. Collecting a few other “syndromes” and conditions along the way hasn’t been easy, but I’ve at least had enough experience to stay a little calmer when I learn something new about my health. Finding five things you are thankful for despite being sick is something I try to do on my most difficult days. I am thankful for my family (This includes Macy!), Robert, my best friends, the sunshine, and chocolate. That was a really easy list, and I grouped a bunch of people together. Despite not having the life I had dreamed of for most of my childhood, I still have some pretty incredible blessings.