killin’ it with Crohn’s— a journey with Renee Taylor | 2019

“As long as I keep looking for positivity, I’m pretty sure I’ll find it. The world isn’t that terrible after all.”

After months of excruciating hardship, Renee Taylor baffles over one thousand Instagram followers with her ability to shine light on a bleak situation she certainly didn’t ask to be a part of.

In May 2018, Renee entered the hospital with complaints of massive, painful bumps on her shins and left with an unexpected Crohn’s disease diagnoses. Erythema nodosum, a symptom of Crohn’s, were the bumps that left Renee unable to walk. Within a month of the diagnoses; Renee lost twenty-five pounds– unable to eat anything without experiencing extreme digestive issues.

Crohn’s disease, a chronic inflammatory problem that primarily affects the digestive tract, isn’t all that common– only about 200,000 cases occur in the US per year.

“The hardest thing that comes from this disease is the loss of normalcy. I understand there is no true normalcy to this life that we live, but it’s simple things like not being able to work out or shower because I can’t stand on my own,” she explains. “I’m a very independent person, so losing that independence is very hard for me.”

Looking at Renee, standing 5’3 with sunshine seeping from her aura, you’d never initially know there was anything wrong. The idea that someone so seemingly healthy can be going through their own personal hell is a reality check to all who witness her daily struggle.

“I wish people knew that Crohn’s isn’t just a stomach problem. Running to the bathroom is the least of my worries when it comes to the terrible symptoms I experience. The inability to walk, mouth sores, skin rashes…the list goes on. It hurts when people try to relate by saying they have stomach issues. I know they mean well, but sometimes I just want to say ‘you don’t fully understand!'”

Renee’s treatment includes weekly injections of Humira, a TNF blocker that helps reduce inflammation and eases the debilitating pain of Crohn’s.

“When I’m not experiencing a flare-up, I live completely ‘normal.’ I can eat what I want, exercise, I don’t have to go to bed by 5 p.m…things you don’t really think about. There are times it’s hard for me to keep myself going, getting up, and walking on my own. It becomes a matter of picking and choosing what I get done that day. Sometimes I simply don’t have the strength or energy.”

Despite the daily pain Renee experiences, she continues to shine light on the silence of Crohn’s disease with her Instagram, @killinitwithcrohns, where she openly expresses her struggles and educates her following about the disease.

“You can find positivity when you’re looking for it.”

If you are searching for the epitome of something special, look no further– Renee is your girl. We could all learn a thing or two from her– and maybe we should. It’s easy to take the small things for granted when we are healthy and happy.

If you’d like to follow Renee on her journey, she’s available on Instagram @killinitwithcrohns.

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the five worst things about social media | 2019

Like most youngins’, I find myself scrolling through Instagram and Facebook far more often than I would like to admit. It’s easy to get lost in the sea of filtered vacation photos, selfies, and righteous life-changing announcements from all two-thousand of your Facebook friends, including but not limited to:

That girl you met once at the bar

Your middle school lab partner

A former coworker you haven’t seen since you quit your job in 2010

That guy you’ve never met but has 200 mutual friends

It’s nearly impossible to focus on the good in your own life when the flowery, super-fucking-cool, undoubtedly awesome, magical lives of others are blasted on every platform you’re part of.

This is why I compiled a list of the top five worst things about social media:

  1. Unrealistic expectations

No average person has a life that revolves around nonstop vacations, parties, and trips from around the world. If they do? Good for them. If you don’t? Good for you, too. Comparison is the root of evil. Enjoy whatever path you’re on. You will forget, (I know I do!) you will be envious, you will get upset– that’s life. Find the pause and remind yourself every day if you have to. You don’t need constant sun-kissed beach trips and expensive lifestyles to be happy.

2. Competition

I know people that obsess over the amount of ‘likes’ they get on a photo because they truly believe their worth is defined by a bullshit construct. Please; for love of everything good and pure, find your worth in anything other than Instagram likes and Twitter favorites. You are better than that.

3. Followers

Unless you’re running a business, creating a brand, or promoting your craft, why does it matter if you have one-thousand followers or fifteen? Does it really make a difference?

4. The need to impress others

The only people you should care about impressing are potential employers, customers, or the audience for your art. Why does it matter if Amy from freshman year thinks you’re cool? It doesn’t.

5. The influence ads have on your wallet and mind

You don’t fucking need Gucci slides and Yves Saint Laurent handbags just because everyone else does. But hey, if that makes you truly happy– you do you boo. No judgement from me. Just make sure you’re buying it for you and not because you feel the need to impress others.

Moral of the story?

Find happiness in other areas of your life, not social media. Be kind to others. Understand you are worth more than a Facebook like and Instagram follower.

Thank you for coming to my Ted talk,

Leah

stop bullshitting & start living: note to self

They say good things happen when you least expect them.

Maybe there’s some partial truth to that.

I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting on life and how drastically things have changed for me over the past several years. I was always hell-bent on having my life turn out a certain way that I forgot to enjoy the present moments, whether good or bad. I thought that if I kept looking for the things I thought would make me happy, I would find them.

I didn’t.

It took a long time for me to accept that life is not linear. It’s not a step-by-step manual to be followed word for word. Truth be told, nothing works out according to schedule. Plans falter. People come and leave. Ideas fail. Opinions change. There’s zero wrong with any of these things– in fact, they make for great lessons and even better stories.

I remember being seventeen and having this idea that I would move to a big city to start over and get away from the monotony of my stagnant hometown. I guess I was partially right– I did move away. I did start over. I did get away. The problem with my grand idea was that it wasn’t entirely realistic. Looking at life through a rose-colored lens is unrealistic. Nobody told me how lonely it would be. Nobody told me about the debt I would accumulate up to my eyeballs. Nobody told me it would be one of the most refreshing, yet heartbreaking decisions I will have had made, to date.

Just one year ago I was engaged to the wrong person and lying to myself about our relationship. I can’t tell you if it was the insecurities keeping me from being completely honest with myself, or the inability to escape from my comfort zone that trapped me for the duration of that relationship. I wasn’t happy with myself, there was no way in hell I would be happy in a marriage. The moment I decided to put myself first was the moment I grew as a person. From that point forward I knew I needed to do whatever made me happy, regardless of what other people thought or what their reactions would be. I hurt a lot of people; but to be fair, a lot of people hurt me.

The way I live my life now is a complete 180 from what I had grown accustomed to for so long. It’s amazing what self-love, the desire to be better, and an open-mind can do for a person’s attitude. I still have bad days. I still cry, (a lot, might I add.) Along with all of my faults, I’ve grown mostly comfortable with how things are turning out. I can say that while although my life is hectic and crazy and I’ve made a lot of questionable decisions, I wouldn’t change a thing about it.

I worry a lot, I panic a lot, I think ahead a lot. But I’ve also overcome so much more than I could ever dream of putting into words. I’m becoming more and more comfortable with the unknown. I’m trying to stop questioning the good things in life and start accepting them at face value.

If you told me one year ago how my life would look like today, I would undoubtedly tell you to fuck off. I’m glad I changed.

Let those good times roll.

 

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