You are not alone

I’ve used the excuse that I can’t come up with a clever enough opening statement for this blog post, for about a year now. When I first started my blog, I knew this was a story I needed to share. I just didn’t know when, and I wasn’t sure how.This is the deepest it gets in my little world, and I don’t think any one can deny how intimidating it can feel to share one’s story of struggle and triumph. I write this story with the hope that it helps at least one aching heart know that they aren’t alone, and a sense of hope is not as far as it seems.

I was 12 years old when I first heard the word “anxiety”,  and the first panic attack I can remember was in 2nd grade. I was a frightened, shy, overwhelmed,  scared, and hesitant pre-teen. I couldn’t find the courage to ask the waiter for ketchup at a restaurant, and any time a peer of mine would try to become my friend I’d avoid them like the plague in order to avoid any social confrontation. I’d obsess over any social interaction I would have, hoping I didn’t sound like an idiot, and praying that I wouldn’t have to deal with someone else trying to talk to me. Paranoid of hurting someone by something I’d say, or not being good enough to be their friend. I was abnormally scared of loss and failure. I would panic at the thought of being unloveable, and frightened to a unstable point that I wasn’t worth loving. I would cry myself to sleep at night, for a reason I couldn’t pin point. I would loose my mind watching people fight, or being in a fight myself. I’d get dizzy, my heart would pound out of my chest, my hands would shake and sweat, and I was unable to formulate a normal sounding sentence. This was my normal for over a decade of my life. I didn’t know that wasn’t normal, until much later in my life.

It was a random day in February of 2004 I was in 6th grade, and my heart was beating so hard you’d think I had just a ran a 6 minute mile, at the thought that there was another day to face. I went to my last class of the day, Social studies. We had been studying a time in history in which there was too much hate and not enough love. We had read descriptive chapters of events that occurred involving war, and the loss of life. I had been struggling to sit in class during this time, but hadn’t yet hit my breaking point. My teacher walked over to the VCR player, (the what? you are probably asking yourself right now) and turned on a very vivd and colorful video displaying the events that took place in Germany in 1933. I had never seen any act of violence so horrific, and my entire being lost it. Right there in the middle of my sixth grade social studies class, feeling helpless and frightened to the 10th degree. The part of this story that trips me out the most is that I was convinced no one knew what was happening inside me. I sat there in my class glued to my seat, terrified to move with the new knowledge I had gained that humans were capable of destroying each other to the point of torture and death, with seemingly no care of their actions. The bell rang signaling the end of class, and I have never moved as fast as I did in that moment. By some miracle my Mom was the first car in the line of cars waiting to pick up their children. She saw me running and in retrospect probably saw the tears in my eyes too. I slammed the door shut, and I broke. Broke into a thousand pieces in the front seat of that car. Terrified of the world, the people in it, and the violence that penetrated the world. My body was shaking so uncontrollably, my Mom later told me she thought at first I was having a seizure. At this point in the story there is little I remember, but I do know my Mom attempted to ask me at least 100 times what had happened. I don’t remember what I said to her, I don’t remember driving home that day or what I did once I got there. That night my parents asked me to go for a drive, with panic still encaging my body, I went. My Dad asked if I would feel comfortable being homeschooled for a while until we could figure out if I was ok. The tears came again, this time out of relief. I was free. Free from a pounding heart everyday, and incessant fears of the world. Little did I know freedom would never come, but it would get better. I would get better. My anxiety would get better. That hope wasn’t as far away as I believed.

My parents enlisted the help of our family’s pediatrician, and mental health professionals. Slowly but surely my parents began to receive answers. In retrospect, I think about it from their point of view. How confused they must have felt. If there were a picture in the dictionary next to ‘idyllic’ my childhood would be there. I was blessed with parents who loved me, protected me, fought for me, provided for me, and comforted me. So why was I scared of the world? There was no reason to be… at least they thought. There is a saying I have heard many times, along the lines of it taking more then 2 parents to raise a child. But that a village is involved. And that village must be built carefully. Unfortunately parents don’t always have complete control over that village and who is invited into it, for example educational instructors.  I had had teachers who didn’t have my best interest at heart, and through some therapy I was eventually able to pinpoint instances from my early years of education in which my anxiety potentially could have developed.

I had been homeschooled for a half a semester by this point in the story. Since answers to my condition were beginning to come to light it made sense to try to go back to traditional school. My mom came with me to register for my 7th grade classes. The moment my foot hit the pavement of that school….all of the emotion of that 6th grade panic attack came rushing back and I ran. Like I literally ran back to the car. I wasn’t ready. I couldn’t do it. My mother is a saint full of patience. Instead of forcing me to go, she unlocked the car, and ripped out of that parking lot as fast as she had on that random day in February of 2004.

I remember one of the many trips to the Dr. in which what type of treatment children with an anxiety disorder typically use. At the end of the treatment discussion the Dr. told my Mom, “She most likely isn’t leaving your side. I don’t think college is a possibility to be discussed, and I don’t think she’ll move out of your house.” I couldn’t tell you that Doctor’s name because I never saw him again. My mom is the kind of person who doesn’t respond very well to the word ‘no’. As far as she was concerned, college was something that would be talked about frequently. A typical healthy adult life was the goal, and there was nothing she wouldn’t do to help me find a new normal. And she did. Every panic attack, every flutter of anxiety I never fought alone. Eventually I went back to middle school. My school district only knew how to help the students who were farther ahead in all aspects of their life, or farther behind then heard of. There was no in between, and if it wasn’t for my Mother, I would have fallen between the cracks. She fought and she fought until my middle school would accommodate a split schedule. Meaning I would have some classes at school like a typical student, but after lunch I’d go home, and she would teach me social studies in a way that wouldn’t cause a panic attack. Because of her fight, I never went to a history class again, and had a split schedule for the rest of my secondary and high school education.

A generalized anxiety disorder is like an onion. There are layers and layers and it gets pretty deep. I assumed once I could figure out how to handle observing feelings of contention without losing my mind, my anxiety would go away and all would be well….ha! High school came and panic attacks were more of an occurrence then ever before. Previous to high school I wasn’t participating in any regular type of treatment. My parents were cautious of sending me to therapy, and weren’t sure what would happen if they left their daughter to talk to a stranger for an hour about her fears of the world. My mom felt like it needed to happen though, so it did. There are few times in my life I have felt as relieved or overwhelmed as I did after my first therapy session. That was when I learned about the onion that had grown inside of me, what it was doing to me, and what it would take to rid of it.

I worked as hard as I possibly could those 4 years of high school in therapy learning about anxiety, what it meant, what it was, what it could do, why I had it, how to stop it, and anything else my therapist was willing to teach me. This education I received from my therapist, sparked something inside me. From that moment on I became fascinated with feelings, how they worked, why we have them, what they are capable of. It led to my eventual career goals in the therapeutic world. College came into the picture and I shot it down. Those Doctor’s words penetrating in mind. My senior year of high school came, and most of my friends knew what their plan was once they graduated. They’d ask me what my plan was and I’d change the subject. I don’t remember what it was that opened my mind to the idea of college. But I remember that postcard in the mail that changed everything. A small public school in the middle of Cedar City, Utah asked me to visit. And for some reason, I said sure. My Mom came with me, and once we were there we both knew that this was it. I only applied to two colleges, with the secret hope that both would say “Heavens crazy girl we don’t want you here.” But unfortunately both schools liked crazy, cuz they both said yes.

My parents drove with me to Cedar city in fall of 2010. I couldn’t believe this was actually happening. I bawled from California to Las Vegas. I knew how to conquer a panic attack. I had spent the last 4 years studying and practicing how too. I knew what anxiety felt like. I knew what my limits were, and how to protect the fragile onion inside me. But could I do it by myself? That was the question I asked myself while my Mom and I sobbed in each other’s arms and said goodbye. That first semester of college was one of the hardest times of my life. But I did it. I even let go of my mom again to go back for a second semester after winter break.

I could write 10 more pages of the anxiety struggles and triumphs I’ve faced since my freshman year of college. Serving a full time mission for the LDS church (talk about letting go of my mom…), continuing my eduction,  my first “grown up job” that my parents had nothing to do with, calling off a wedding, losing my best friend, the list goes on. Instead I want to share with you the advice I would give to my 12 year old self:

Breathe. Just breathe. In through your nose, and out through your mouth until the ringing in your ears goes away. You are worth more then money can buy. You don’t believe me now, and you won’t until the world breaks your heart a few times. There is a song you’ll hear that sort of becomes the theme to your recovery. It talks about the sun shinning one day. Not about the darkness being taken away, but a hope for tomorrow. There is hope. There’s a lot of it. One day you decide to see it. And one day you learn to love not only the onion, but the one who holds it too. I can promise you, you’ll be ok. I promise one day you’ll wake up and it won’t be a nightmare, but a story you survived and are proud to share. Don’t be afraid to dream about more then the Eiffel tower, and to tell the world all about those dreams. You make it Paris. You even get a college degree. But it isn’t because you let the anxiety win and wonder what the world is like. It’s because you do what Mom tells you to do everyday: breathe and believe it will be ok. Believe it or not, you even get to the  point where you realize Dad is right….recovery is a choice. Not a hope or a wish, but a choice you wake up every day making. It’s a choice that you not only have to make, but act on. Your life won’t be perfect. You fail at a few things. But no failure will ever result in a loss of your worth as a person. You find a form of treatment, like the Doctor keeps talking about, but it takes a minute to figure out what works best for you. There will come a time when you aren’t afraid to tell someone you have an anxiety disorder, she doesn’t run away. She’s never made fun of you for it either. And she still stays, after every panic attack that happens. Eventually you tell more then just her. And you change lives because of your story. Love is not a word to be afraid of. You’ll experience heart break. And you will feel loss. But there is more joy in the word Love, then there are reasons to be afraid. One day you even get the guts to speak to a boy. A few actually. Some of them you get rid of with good reason. Even though it will get contentious. You fight the anxiety it brings. Like you have, and like you always will. There is one boy you let into the world of anxiety. He sees the onion and he asks you to teach him everything you are learning right now, and what you have yet to learn. He protects you like Mom does, and he doesn’t leave. Let yourself get stronger every day. Because randomly one day you’ll ask the waiter for ketchup, without even thinking twice.

The theme song

**If you or, a loved one, are experiencing anxiety, depression, or any other mental illness please consult with your Dr. about treatment.**

**To the loved ones who wonder what they can do for those that suffer from anxiety and depression:** There is no universal answer. Everyone is different. So ask them. If they don’t have an answer at that moment, chances are they will once you give them a minute to think about it.

 

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Three good things

Recently I had an experience that inspired an idea, a hope, for my blog…

My family came to visit my husband and I, and we decided to go on an adventure. We took them to the Provo river to tube and splash around. What started as a seemingly fun and lighthearted afternoon turned into a hurricane of disaster in a matter of seconds. About a year ago my mom was in a bad car accident and walked away with a serious concussion. We later found out her concussion was more then just a light bruise on her brain, but she was suffering from a traumatic brain injury. While we were tubing down the river, my mom fell backwards off her tube, and smacked her head on a rock. If you know anything about brain injuries…you know that is not good!! After helping my mom to get situated back on her tube, and make sure she was still coherent we kept going. As we were continuing down the river, my little sister’s tube popped. Causing her to have to hang to the side of my tube, since the tubes were small and only fit one person. I went to jump off my tube and give it to her, but she wouldn’t let me. Like she physically pushed me back onto my tube. I tried to hold her up as best I could. I kept wiping her tears from her face while her knees were getting banged up on the rocks beneath her. My littlest sister’s tube popped shortly thereafter and she had maneuvered her way on top of me and my tube by climbing over family members who were safely on their tubes. While she was on top of my tube we passed by a branch that was lingering on the top of the water. As we passed by this branch, my sister’s life jacket caught hold of that lingering branch. Before I knew it my tube and I were coasting down the river while my sister was caught in a tree, face down in the water. She had a little bit of room to lift her head up and breathe, but not much. The current was pushing her little ten year old body, which caused for her to have no control over herself. She was flailing around and scared out of her mind. I leaped out of my tube, and I credit this to adrenaline rushing through my body, pushed back through the current to get to my sister. Hearing her screams, and trying to ignore my heart leaping out of my chest, I finally made it to her, threw my arms around her and had to push her back against the current in order to get her released from the tree and back to safety. Once I had her in my arms I swam with the current to my husband, who was holding my tube and trying to calm my mom down. From that point on, there were still some bumps and bruises along the way. My oldest younger sister and I ended up walking the rest of the way since 2 tubes were down. As my sister and I were walking back towards our cars, it got me thinking…

There were two options my family and I had at that moment. One was to cry, freak out, be mad, and wish a drought to be cast upon the freezing river. The second was to by grateful that none of the injuries that occurred that day were fatal, especially my mom’s. To be grateful that my littlest sister was able to be released from the tree, and that it wasn’t any scarier then it already was. The world today is a really scary place. So scary that children can’t play in their front yards without being suspicious, and teenagers have taken bullying beyond the hallways of school to behind a computer screen. It seems that everywhere I turn there is another tragedy, heartbreaking loss, devastating destruction, unnecessary act of violence, or malicious argument taking place. There is a argument for the idea that there is more to fear then to love in this world. But I strongly disagree. While there are valid fears to have, there is grateful heart each one of us can grow. I choose to be grateful that my families injuries from that day at the river were not as serious as they could have been. Granted, our little excursion on the river was no where near some of the tragedy individuals face today. But my experience can be used to illustrate a lesson that I believe is much needed in this scary world. I’m not saying an attitude of gratitude, or a grateful heart, will solve all of the world’s problem within the next few days. But a heart of gratitude can lead to a heart filled with kindness. I don’t think anyone would disagree that this world could use a bit of kindness. So here is my proposition to you, find three things everyday to be grateful for. Wether it be that you made it to work on time after a crazy and rushed filled morning, or that you were able to chat with a friend you hadn’t heard from in a while. There is so much to be thankful for, and most of the time we take daily life for granted and forget to realize the impact the smallest things can have on our lives. Or in this case, the world.

Share those three things you have to be grateful for, using the #threegoodthings and #alexandriakrystine and you will be entered for the COOLEST GIVEAWAY YET!! In honor of finding three good things to be grateful for, I am giving away three good things, for three straight days!

Day #1 giveaway: My friend Mckell owns the cutest custom jewelry shop and makes amazing custom bangles! I have ordered several bangles from her (including my bridesmaids gifts, which were a crazy big hit!) that I LOVE, and pretty much wear everyday. Check out her instagram page to see her work! @mcustombangles. Mckell has kindly offered to give these custom rose gold bangles to the winner of #threegoodthings giveaway for day #1!Instasize_0827195853

Day #2 giveaway: Who doesn’t love to shop? How does a $25 gift card to amazon sound! (PC: turnerduckworth.com)

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Day #3 giveaway: Hand lettered pieces are one of my new obsessions. There is a too die for shop on Etsy called ILovePrintables. The winner of day 3 will get an 8×10 print of the pic below! I love this quote, and how it ties into the purpose of #threegoodthings!

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All you have to do is post on instagram three things you have to be grateful for, and use the hashtags #threegoodthings #alexandriakrystine. This giveaway will be going on for THREE STRAIGHT DAYS! There is no limit to how many entries, just make sure you use the hashtags so we know you have entered.

Day #1 giveaway: Starts RIGHT NOW! And ends tomorrow (August 29th) at Noon MST.

Day #2 giveaway: Starts tomorrow (August 29th) at noon MST, and ends August 3oth at noon MST.

Day #3 giveaway: Starts August 30th at noon MST, and ends August 31st at noon MST.

Winners will be selected at random, and announced at the end of each giveaway day on Instagram. Let’s blow up this attitude of gratitude like crazy on social media, and promote a little more kindness in this chaotic world! #threegoodthings

The art of comparison

It’s been a minute since I’ve composed a post….(try A LOT of minutes). Life gets really crazy when you forget to stay organized, and prioritize. I have found myself forgetting what makes me happy. I get so caught up in my to-do list for the day, and making sure all the people that I love are happy.Between work, and school, and getting MARRIED. (Yeah you read that right!) life was consuming every part of me, and I haven’t touched the brakes in what seems like an eternity. There are some friends I haven’t seen in months, and projects started and no where near finished piled up everywhere around me. I was telling my husband just yesterday how there is so much I want to do, and even more I want to be, but it feels like there is never enough time, or I don’t have enough energy to get there. Even if I could summon the energy to tackle the bucket lists, and inspiration boards I’ve complied over the years, there is a new found thief in my way that I’ve never met. Some of my closest people are acquainted with this thief. I’ve always given them advice as to how to make it go away, but all of the sudden I see how naive I must have sounded. This may sound strange but in my silly years of teenager-ness, I assumed that as soon as I was married, and an adult, with my own car, and my own house, and seemingly established….these self esteem problems would stop eating at me. I’d be able to put down the security gates I’ve so carefully woven around myself, and live life with no fear of failure and no need for second chances. Because by then I’d have everything together…right? But my oh my, have I been proven wrong. I am now married, and an adult. With my own car, and cute little home I share with my husband. As much I was would like to say that my specially crafted security coverage has retired, I regret to inform you they have only just begun.

When there is a spare second to breathe, and get lost in something that makes me happy, it’s almost like there is a buzzer in my head that goes off and reminds me that maybe my idea isn’t as good as that other person’s whose already blogged about that. Or that my picture isn’t quite perfect enough to compete with blogs like mine. Or that idea is way to out of the box for anyone to take it seriously. So I just stopped. I gave up. I walked away from the blog, and  from a lot of creative aspects of my life, because I didn’t measure up to the definition of “good enough” in my head.  I had a distraction at the time, ahem the now husband, and I really wanted things to work out with that cute boy. So that was what needed my attention anyway. Well the boy is mine forever now, and I couldn’t be more grateful. But here I am with self esteem security gates that need a little fix, and a sore heart that needs a major reality check. As much as I love reminding those I love that they are more then deserving of living life to their grandest expectations, I have forgotten to remind myself that I am just as deserving. As heart breaking as it may be, I know I’m not the only one who has created the art of comparison in their minds. And in case you weren’t aware, I’ll break it to you with all the love in my heart: MOST EVERYONE YOU KNOW IS COMPARING THEMSELVES TOO. So knock it off, and go do something that reminds yourself of your worth, and the worth of those around you. With all this sadness, bitterness, and fighting in the world maybe we should try and be a little kinder to ourselves. Then in turn a little kinder to our neighbor. One of my favorite quotes talks about how important it is to be kind to one another, because you have no idea the battle that person may be fighting.

I want to help spread the kindness to you and your neighbors! If you follow my Instagram page you may have noticed that a while back I started a small little photography business (in my attempt to not let that stupid comparison thief win). Comment on this post, or my Instagram post with someone you think deserves a mini photo shoot and why you think they do! Your best friend, your favorite person, your mailman, someone you love who hasn’t had some updated family pictures in a while….. whoever! Be the one to make their day, and tag them in your comment. Let’s spread some kindness around! (Giveaway only for those in the Southern California or Utah area)

Also…wanted to show off that cute boy 🙂

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Just do it

I’ve loved photography. Like forever. I’ve studied it since the beginning of time, and I’ve always loved taking pictures for my friends, with my friends, and for close family friends. I’ve always wanted to do something with my photography, but have always been majorly hesitant, and super scared to put myself out there. But as my handsome and supportive fiance says…just do it. So here I go! Check out my new Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/alexandriakrystinephotography/ and like it if you feel so inclined 😉 Check out my work (also some is featured below), and let me know what you think! There is a new tab at the top of my blog with a tad bit more info on my whole photography thing. Since I’m starting from scratch here, I’m offering a half hour session for $20 and one hour sessions for $50. Bloggers, engaged couples, business owners, families and everyone else, send me a message and let’s book a shoot!

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Dreams can come true.

Long time no talk!! In my instagram bio it says I’m a lifestyle blogger so I figured I better actually live up to that self given title ;).

(BTW I wrote this before I got engaged…so something else has been holding my attention lately.)

Nothing can hold my attention anymore. I can’t stop thinking about the magic, the emotion, the tears, the breathless moment it all came to a head. The dream that preoccupied my nights was finally my reality. I dreamed of it longer then it was actuality. But every moment of it was everything I hoped it would be. The lights, the feeling, the majestic nature,  the architecture, the baguettes on every corner. In some ways it was exactly how I imagined it, and in others its the exact opposite. The moral of the story, is that dreams can come true but only with patience, trust, and a little bit of pixie dust.

Ever since I can remember, I have been obsessed with the Eiffel tower.  I don’t know why. It’s not like it was a part of any family stories or genealogy. I saw a picture one day and couldn’t get over how beautiful it is. The more I learned about France and the beauty that was held within it’s culture, the more I wanted to absorb as much as I could of it. I made a bucket list when I was a little freshman in high school. Still wide eyed, and not aware of the heartbreak the world creates. On my bucket list I wrote, get to paris and stand under neath the Eiffel tower. I have heard what seems like millions of stories about people having dreams, and goals, but only using them to fall asleep at night. From young age I have had a determination to accomplish those items on that bucket list I made when life seemed so materialistic. It’s not even necessarily about those items on the list, that now seem so insignificant, but it’s about proving to myself that I won’t let life pass me by. I’ll give life the chance it deserves and attempt to live it to my definition of “the fullest”.

Any friend I ever made, any boy I ever dated, and everyone in between has known that Paris….was my ultimate goal. As time goes on every new relationship I find myself in regardless of it’s nature, learns of my dream and the colorful details that come with it. When I was about to serve a mission for the LDS church, I was terrified that it would never happen. I hadn’t had an opportunity to go and I knew my minimum wage college jobs just weren’t gonna get me there. I remember kneeling down to say a prayer about my long list of fears about going on a mission. The third fear on that list was that if I went on a mission I would miss my chance. I remember not feeling peace about getting to go, but not feeling like it wasn’t out of the picture. I said in my prayer, “Look…I have to go one day…like you gotta help me. Here I’ll tell you what…I’ll serve a mission to make you happy, and you help me get to Paris. I know you can do it. Just help me make it happen.” I remember receiving a distinction impression that sure, God could get me there….but I could get myself there with his help. So I went on a mission. Not sure what the future held, but confident in who held my future.

I came home from my mission determined as ever to just get there. As soon as I got home there was an opportunity to study abroad in Paris for the coming summer. Perfect, I thought! I have about a year to save up, and I’ll be there. I got a job, I started saving. I filled out the mountain of paper work and gathered as many letters of recommendation as I could. Not to drive the brag train, but I nailed the admission interview for this study abroad trip. Everything was working out perfectly…until it wasn’t. The admission director informed me that not enough students signed up for this particular study abroad trip so  it would have to be canceled. My first thought was honestly, “Hold up dude, I served a mission this is supposed to happen!” I felt extremely defeated, but I wasn’t giving up. I was dating someone at the time, and we were talking about getting married. We decided that instead of a reception we would use the money to travel to Paris and my dream could finally come true. We went to go meet with a local travel agent and she tallied up the cost. I knew what to except…like come on I’d be researching this trip my whole life. I guess my partner wasn’t as aware of what it takes to travel because when the travel agent revealed what we would be spending he looked at me and simply said, “No.” I was stunned, and wether you believe it or not I kept dating him for a while after that! Why would I ever think twice about being with someone who doesn’t support my dream? Eventually we broke up and I was more then determined to stop letting people stomp on my dream. I waited too long and wanted to get to Paris way to badly to hear the word ‘No’ one more time. I woke up one morning last summer, looked at my mom, and in state of heartbreak and determination I said “I’m buying a ticket to Europe today.” I did a little research, and was actually a little hesitant about just doing it. I compared prices, tried to wait for the right time and eventually…..

(Click here to see the moment it all became real! It’s actually pretty embarrassing…I had just come back from the beach and was a little excited to say the least….)

Fast forward to March 2016, the long awaited moment was almost here. I brought my little bother along because #1 standing at 6′ 4″he’s not so little and #2 My parents have watched the movie Taken one too many times and were not about to let me travel half away around the world by myself. When we finally arrived in Paris…I got sick. Not like a cold just get over it sick…like I can’t get out of bed and I think I need to get to the hospital kind of sick (and eventually had to actually admit when I got back). I didn’t let anyone know how sick I really felt, just that I was sick. I was not giving up when the Eiffel tower was literally OUTSIDE MY BEDROOM WINDOW! I had worked way too hard to get there. The first time I saw it was while I was driving. It was out the window, and my heart stopped. I grabbed my little brother’s arm and all I could do was point. I couldn’t believe it was real. That night we walked to the tower during the sunset. I kept stopping just to stare because it didn’t even feel real that it was no longer just a picture. With little nudges from my little brother to keep going, because “uh lex….you can get closer you know” we eventually got there. It was dark by the time we arrived. I looked up at the sky and with tears in my eyes said, “Thanks”. I carefully walked across the street and just stared straight up in the sky. It was real. I was real. Dreams were real. Hard work is real. Patience is real. People will always tell you no. You have the power to say yes. All of these thoughts, and more kept swarming through my head. My little brother and I stood under the tower for about 3 minutes. He then looked at me and said, “Ok I got my picture, lets go.” HECK NO! I took my sweet time, examining every inch of that tower my brain could process. I had conquered one too many trails to get there, we weren’t about to just walk away. I stood under that tower for what felt like 2 seconds, but in reality was about a half an hour. As we walked away I had a sudden wave of sadness. Everything I have ever been working towards was over. All of the sweat and tears had seemed to just vanished. Everything those tears represented was now a memory. What was next?  Luckily I had an 11 hour flight home to answer that.

I want to remember the tears. I want to remember how the principle of hard work was seared in my brain because of this experience. I want to remember how the fact that I accomplished such a large task, brought more magic than the trip itself. I want to remember the butterflies that flew through my stomach as we walked up to that perfectly lit up tower. I want to remember how nothing else seemed to matter in that moment. Not a stress, or a worry in the world. Because dreams do come true. We were not sent to this life to sit and watch it go by. We are not here to wonder what life would be like if we could, we are here to say we did. Go discover your own version of Paris. Fight for it until you get there, and never stop chasing your Paris. Because I’ve been there, and it will mean more then any show on netflix ever will.

 

The most important unit in the world

I have had this post in my “saved draft” file for a few months now. But I was waiting for the right time to post its. But today is the day! It’s my favorite person on the planet’s birthday today. I love my Mom more then anyone, or anything. The best present I could think to give her, is to remind her of her families love for her. My whole family hasn’t been in the same room at the same time, in almost 3 years. Some days it’s easy to forget what it’s like to be a whole unit, and I know it hurts my Mama’s heart. So here is a taste of what it’s like when we are all in the same room, at the same time. I love you more then life itself. Here’s to you and your biggest dream come true. Your crazy kids 🙂

I am obsessed with my family (not in the unhealthy way, but like the when they are sad I’m sad kind of way). They are the people that know me better then I know myself. They are the people who love me anyway. I firmly believe that families can be together forever, and how grateful I am to know that these relationship I’ve been blessed with can last forever. My Mother’s side of the family is Greek, and my Father’s is German. My Mother raised my siblings and I with a traditional Greek Easter every year. You know that movie “My big, fat, Greek wedding“? I honestly, truthfully have a family member for each cast member in that script. Sometimes I think my wedding may really turn out like that! As crazy as my family may be, I love each of them more then I can comprehend. So let me introduce to these crazy people I call mine. They each teach me something, and bring something to my life that has made me who I am today.

Like my Dad, who has taught me what it means to be dedicated to what you believe in. I have more respect for my Dad, then anyone else I’ve ever had the chance to meet. He has shown me how to commit to something whole heartedly, and sacrifice for what is right. He is my greatest example, and the lighthouse to my life when it gets a little stormy.

I have 4 younger siblings. I may not have always liked them, but I have always loved them. At the end of the day they are the ones I know I can rely on.

Jake is the oldest of my littles. Walking around at 6′ “5, most people think he’s older than me. Jake has a zest for life that can’t be found any where else. He is passionate about what he believes, and isn’t scared of anything. Except for turtles…but I’m not allowed to talk about that. He may give off a tough guy vibe, but is the softest of teddy bears. He has a twin, Kayla. Or KB as I call her. Nobody thinks they are twins since she is only 5′ “4. KB is the epitome of kindness. I swear if you look close enough, you can see her halo. She radiates with a light that you can’t help but want to emulate. She exudes compassion to every soul she comes in contact with. I have told her since we were kids, that my greatest wish is to be like her when I grow up.

Sean is the next little on the list. We are 8 years apart, and he was born at the stage of life where all I wanted to play was mommy. I made all the girls at school jealous, because I had a real live baby to play with at home, not just a doll. He has been my little buddy ever since. In my opinion one of Sean’s greatest attributes is how loyal he is to those he loves. And when the boy loves someone, he loves them deep. Like would do anything, and be everything he could for them. He is the epitome of cool. At least he likes to think he is ;). Everyone wants to be around him, and he makes everybody feel like a somebody. I think that’s a rare talent to have, and one I hope he always holds on to.

Emily is the last of my littles. I was 14 when she was born. She is the only sibling I remember meeting. She was so little and I was scared to hold her, because I didn’t want to break her. Although she hasn’t been in our family for long, I can’t imagine our life without her! She is the sassiest in all the land. But with a little spice, comes something really nice. For as young as she is, she is wise beyond her years. Sometimes she offers better advice then people triple her age. She’s an old soul, and is the only kid I know that would rather go to Sephora than the Disney store. That’s what you get when you are raised with a bunch of teenagers!

Last, but most definitely not least, my precious Mama. She is the most important person in my life. She brings me down to earth, and isn’t afraid to call me out when I am wrong. She is my #1 supporter, and my best friend. As my fiercest protector she has defended me through my weakest times, and is the one person I know has my best interest at heart. I am grateful for the bond I am able to have with her, and that I have been blessed to learn from such an example. She is epitome of secret acts of service, and I hope I emulate at least a piece of the light she shares with the world. She is a warrior, and I hope to one day be half the mamma she is to me and my 4 littles. She has taught me how to be a dreamer, and that the worst thing one can do is sit on the sidelines and watch as life goes by. She’s shown me how to work, and where to turn when life gets a little too rough to handle on my own. Her family is literally her world. She does everything for us, and puts superwoman to shame.  I could keep blabbing about how incredible my mom is, but she doesn’t really like mushy stuff…so let me get to the point of this post:

Everyone is born into a family, but not everyone is blessed with a family. But some really ridiculously lucky people, like me, are. Some people aren’t blessed with the mentality that family should be your top priority, but I was. And because I was, I feel an immense amount of responsibility to promote that to the rest of the world. Family is not always what you are born into, (I’ve got another post for that one later) but the ones in your life who have your back even when you’re wrong. Family are the ones who love you even when you may think you don’t deserve it. Family are the people who drop everything to be your anything when you need it most. The reason I listed all of my family members and what they’ve taught me is to #1 show my mom I really do love them, and #2 because family, regardless of the roles within the unit, can be some of our greatest teachers. But the only reason I know all of this, is because of the example of my Mother. There is this quote in “My big fat Greek wedding” that explains that the Wife/Mother of the family is the neck, and turns the head any way she wants. Luckily for me, my Mom turned our family into a fiercely loyal, forgiving, and eternal unit. Granted she didn’t do it alone, my Dad has been by her side every step of the way but it’s my Mom’s birthday not his ;). Because of her example I have a desire to do right, to give back, and to help others find what family means to them. Thank you Mom, and happiest of birthdays.

Love always and forever,

Monkey

The coolest giveaway, yet to hit my page!

My amazing, beautiful, and talented friend Hannah owns a fabulous business called Glitter Goddess. Glitter Goddess is a business in which you can purchase hand painted glass ware and candles. Check out the Glitter Goddess Instagram page to see some of Hannah’s amazing work!

Out of the kindness of her heart Hannah is sponsoring a give away for Alexandria Krystine! These two mason jar dispensers are perfect for lotion, soap, and so much more. To enter this giveaway here is what to do: Follow @alexandriakrystine and @glittergoddess on Instagram. Then wait 24 hours for the winner to be announced via Instagram!! Thank you Hannah for sponsoring such a fabulous giveaway!IMG_2999

Makeover Monday: My favorite beauty blogger

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you have heard of highlighting and contouring. Or as it is as also known HAC.  And I should probably clarify…if you follow the latest beauty trends, and enjoy putting on make up then you have HAD to have heard about HAC. When I first started observing this trend (and when every beauty blogger came out with a tutorial on how to do it) I was SO intimated. I avoided for quite a while. It looked like they were putting on war paint, not make up! But then a miracle happened, and a friend introduced me to one of my favorite bloggers…Cara Brook. AKA Maskcara. Her site is AMAZING. Her tutorials are SO easy to follow, and I even find them kind of fun! She does a really good job explaining each step, and how it helps the end goal. She also gives recommendations for reasonably priced makeup, and colors that will flatter your skin tone! I added the tutorial that taught me the basics about HAC, and here is the link to maskcara’s blog: http://www.maskcara.com. Check it out,  and fall in love with how easy your beauty routine can really be!

Baseball Makeup

Only you

Long time no talk! There is something on my mind I’ve been meaning to write about. In between studying for a million tests (k…it’s not really a million but it sure feels like it!) I’ve been thinking about control. By control I mean when you let someone else determine your happiness. This is my kryptonite. Sometimes I get so concerned about making everyone else in my life happy, that I forget to make myself happy in the process. I almost gave up my life to someone else, in an attempt to make someone I loved happy. Fortunately I woke up and realized what I was doing, but I haven’t always been awoken by reality. I could continue on with stories about how I attempted to make someone else happy, by sacrificing my own happiness. But I have a feeling…we all have those stories. About attempting to be someone’s hero. Attempting to save the day, and not worry about our own happy ending. But worry about some other happy ending, that we have little to no control over. So why do we do this? That’s a question I’ve asked myself at least a thousand times (and that one is not an exaggeration). Everyone has their own answer to this question. But here is the answer that has brought peace to my little heart, and I hope it helps you find yours.

I sacrifice my happiness sometimes, because I used to think it was a sign of love. I’ve learned that if it’s true love, life isn’t a sacrifice it’s an adventure. I get sacred that if I am not making my friend, or significant other, or family member happy their love will disappear. I’ve always felt like society places an emphasis on defining happiness, and only letting people in your life that make you happy. This idea the media, and society, have created ignites a major insecurity in me. What If I don’t make those I love happy enough, and they listen to society and move onto the next? I guess it can be taken as a lack of faith of in others, but in reality it’s all a self-worth thing. It took me a long time to realize that, and an even longer time to gain the courage to admit it. Upon this realization I came to the answer to my infamous question “Why do I sacrifice my happiness?” The answer is fear. Fear of loss, fear of not being enough, fear of being alone. A conversation I recently had with a friend was all about the logical fears, and the illogical fears our brains feed to us. All of those fears I listed are completely illogical. I know it, but I don’t always believe it. As with any flaw we attempt to overcome, I recognize it. As cliche as it to say, admitting it is the first step. The more conscious I’ve become  of this it changes the way I act in my relationships. Now I see that by being me, I can make others happy. I don’t need to alter my life, and my choices to please someone else. True happiness is found with true love. True love is found by being you, and only you. Whether that love is a a friendship, romantic relationship, or a plethora of other options, true love deserves the true you. And only you. So what I’m trying to say, is be you. Others will gravitate, and others will love you for you. You won’t have to buy their love with your choices. Even if they don’t agree with your decisions, they’ll still love you. That’s the cool thing about love, it’s not about pleasing the other person. Happiness doesn’t come from other people, it comes once you decide you want it. But only you can choose it.