Category Archives: Lessons Learned

A Lesson in Kindness

It has been awhile. 6 months or so. I wasn’t sure if I was ever going to blog again but hey I’m here again for some reason. I’m not really sure where to begin. A lot has happened. Especially with my arthritis. That’s what I wanted to write about because some nights I still cry myself to sleep when I remember the overwhelming pain and loneliness I was feeling for all those months. I’m finally on the road to healing, both mentally and physically but I know I’ll be at it for awhile longer.

I am not very kind to myself and a lot of times I am not kind to others and that has led to a lot of suffering on my part in the past 6 months or so. I wasn’t kind to my body. I treated it like a thing to beat, the enemy. I’ve been at war for long with my thoughts and with my immune system. There has been a war within my bones and within my mind and instead of trying to stop it, I just tried to fight. I’ve been asking myself for so long: ‘How do you fight what’s inside of you?’ The answer? Stop fighting. My body is not a battlefield and I am not some hero riding into battle every time I force my body to do something in spite of my disease. You do not attack those who are wounded, you’re supposed to heal them. For so long I deprived my body of the things it needed to heal.

Instead of pushing my body to it’s limits, I learned how to give it rest
Instead of denying the food my body needs to repair itself, I learned how to give it good and safe food. Foods that won’t cause inflammation. Foods that will make it stronger, not tear it down. And most importantly I learned that instead of being angry with my body for not working like I wanted it to, I needed to be kind. don’t push my limits but take action in way that slowly expanded what I was capable of. People say ‘battling with health’ like we are waging a war with our bodies and minds when instead I learned that what I truly need to fight is the urge to work against what my body needs.

When I was impacted with arthritis back in 2014, I tried to deny that it was a problem, that this disease was a part of me. But I can see now that all I did was further the damage to the point where I am still, almost 4 years later, dealing with the repercussions of my cruelty. I’ve been hurting for so long, both physically and mentally that sometimes I don’t know where to start. But I think now I’m finally starting to heal and let me tell you, it feels pretty damn good.


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Dear Best Friend

Dear Best Friend,

I expect this will be the last time you hear from me, if I am not already blocked on here, I know I will be after this. To be clear, I am not trying to make excuses with this letter, the first thing I thought to myself after reading your letter was that it didn’t matter ultimately if any of what you said was true, only that I made you feel like they were and even though I don’t know how,  I am beyond sorry that I did. I just spent the last hour going over our skype conversations. Reading and re-reading what was said, searching for…well, I don’t even know. I guess I’m searching for a reason, trying to pinpoint the moment you decided you didn’t want me in your life anymore. I am biased, certainly. But what I don’t understand is how could I be this blind? Were there signs? Or did you hide those too?

I keep looking for this great darkness you must have seen in me to cause you to abruptly cut me out of your life after 6 years of friendship. Was it abrupt or long overdue? These are the questions that will haunt me for the rest of my life. I just want you to know that I truly wanted to know you and now I will never know what I said to make you think that I didn’t or wouldn’t like the real you.

Go ahead, accuse me of having been arrogant, because I was. But what 13-year-old doesn’t either have either a low self-esteem or an inflated sense of self? You know who broke that in me and why.

Go ahead, tell me I am immature. Because I was and sometimes still have my moments of pettiness. But what young teen girl, trying to find out who she is doesn’t? My only problem is that I spoke so much so I couldn’t hide it as well as I assume most do.

Go ahead, tell me I lack perspective. Because I do. And I have never claimed to possess a great wealth of it. I am young and this is my first year out in the world. Of course, I don’t have age or experience on my side. Not many of us do at 18 but we’ll get there with time.

I had a problem when I was 14 with neglecting you because I got caught up with others and their drama. But that was 4 years ago and I have since apologized profusely. It was an immature mistake but also one that I believe was inevitable with our distance. Now? I am a busy college student trying to balance school, work, family, friends, and my deteriorating health. I made a promise to myself awhile back that I would always make time for you but people get busy and overwhelmed with life. That is just how life is. People, friends, struggle to keep in touch and sometimes cease to but when they do, it is of no malicious intent, it just happens, despite our best intentions. 

I respect that you felt like you had to free yourself of me and my emotionally draining ways. I know I can kinda be a roller coaster of emotions sometimes and I change my opinions so fast that it can be hard, impossible even, to keep up. It is similar to how I felt when I cut loose someone who was in my life last semester when I mentally couldn’t handle the drama anymore. That’s why I am not angry and I never was when I read the letter, just confused. I could never be angry with you and if you ever need someone to talk to or find yourself in a bad situation that you need help getting out of, really if you need anything I am here for you always because you are my friend and I care about you and I keep telling myself if I had only said any of this to you when I wasn’t blocked from your life, then maybe that would’ve made a difference.

I have made so many mistakes in my life and many in this past year, most of which I can’t fix. And I will continue to make many more. Situations have been handled poorly, harsh words have been said and friendships have been lost. That’s life I suppose and now I must deal with it. Through all of it, I have learned that I am not the hero or the victim in this story, but neither am I the villain. Life is way too complicated to be fit into novel cliches. Life is nothing like we dreamed or read about when we were kids and full of hope about the world that we were about to embark into.

Even though I can tie up this letter with a pretty little bow, I know and accept that I can never do that with our friendship. Nothing ever ends softly or has a clear beginning like in books. There is no “Once upon a time” or “It all began when…”. I don’t get a do-over or a second chance. I don’t get to be the hero of my story and I certainly don’t get a say in how my choices and words affect others. And even if I did, I don’t deserve it.

All I know is that you were my best friend and I took you for granted. You were right in saying that I don’t get to fix this, that’s not what this is. This is a warning. To myself in the future. So that I never repeat such a horrendous mistake as this again.

Kaitlyn Cruz

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I Need Write Again! (ft. a rant about arthritis and a mini identity crisis)

Hello! It has been way too long since I’ve written anything and I’ve been trying to get myself to sit down in front of my laptop and just type but I haven’t because since I’ve been home for break, I’ve been really thrown off schedule and I’m also an idiot who stopped taking her pain medication cause certainly the pain couldn’t be that bad but OH GOD NO THAT WAS A MISTAKE. Like that cat stuck in a jar meme. So now I’m typing this all on my phone, after having taken pain meds just so I could go to sleep because everything was hurting. And I mean everything. Like the third knuckle on my toe.Hurting. My hands, my elbows, my ankles, my back and shoulders. And my right knee, which has never given me problems, is hurting and I’ve barely been able to walk on it for days. 

Okay okay now I’m starting to sound like an old person who goes on for 20 minutes about a bruise. I either feel like I talk about my arthritis too much or not enough. Sometimes I think about starting one of those Instagram accounts that track my journey with JIA but that seems like old news to me since I’ve been dealing with this for the past 10 years. I’m an old veteran, dealing with chronic illnesses before they were cool! Like my arthritis isn’t something horrible that’s happened to me, it’s just a part of who I am. Also I’ve told my story what feels like a billion times that it’s just boring. It’s just a thing that happened and I honestly can’t remember a time when I didn’t have it and while I definitely respect and think that it’s beneficial for some people to talk about it, I’m just not sure if want to be one of those people who talk about it constantly? I’d much rather be remembered for something I made happen rather than something that happened to me. 

I’ve accepted by now that this is just going to be an outpouring of my thoughts, most of which won’t make sense but as stated in the title: I NEED TO WRITE AGAIN. Over the past year, creating content has become such a huge part of my life which is something I never saw coming when I started this blog a little over 2 years ago. Since then I’ve expanded into poetry and art. Yet, for the most part, I still feel like a fraud. It’s as though there’s this stereotype that exists for most creators, whether they’re on YouTube or Etsy or WordPress. It’s artsy people who all they have is their art. Maybe college was never really for them or they left college to pursue a YouTube career and was able to leave their dead end job and pursue what they were really passionate about. But that’s just not me and it never will be. I know with enough time and effort, all the projects I have can grow to be bigger than myself and that if I was consistent, I could really grow my following. But then with that comes an obligation that I really can’t fulfill. And most of the time I don’t feel like I should be calling myself a writer or an artist. But I also don’t feel smart enough to call myself a scientist. It’s weird. Do other people feel this way too? I have so many different interests that I can never talk about them all. From my Instagram and blog, you could hardly tell that I’m a science person and that 90% of my time goes to crying over math homework at 3 am. This whole thing is starting to feel like it would be better as a YouTube video but I don’t have the time to be a YouTuber. WHY MUST THE WORLD BE FILLED WITH SO MANY AWESOME THINGS THAT I DONT HAVE TIME FOR?!?! 

Anyways, this post has been a mess. I’m going on a trip with my family over the weekend so hopefully that’ll give me some time to work on my art and write more! Congrats if you made it to the end of this. Really, you’re amazing. Happy New Year everyone ! 

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I Am Broken: Life With Chronic Illness

I have Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis.
I am severely anemic.

I am broken.

And yeah, maybe I shouldn’t think that way about myself but it has taken me 10 long years to be able to say those words aloud to myself and I have fought to proclaim those three words. I believe I have earned the right to speak about my pain. I wish I could be optimistic all the time and actually believe the things that I and others tell me when we say:

“It’ll get easier”.

“It won’t always be this way”.

“Just hang in there!”


I am broken. I have an incurable disease ravaging my body and it has only gotten worse since I have started college and on Monday, I could barely get out of bed and almost passed out just going up a flight of stairs.

A couple of days ago, my boyfriend broke up with me and as much as that hurts, it in no way compares to the pain and turmoil I have felt in not only these past two months but these past 10 years. And it wasn’t until I started talking about all of this with my…I guess as of now ex-boyfriend, that I realized I had been trying to live as though my arthritis wasn’t a problem and I have spent most of my life trying to minimize that pain because I didn’t want my parents and friends to worry.

But now, I am ready, to be honest about my struggles, to speak up when I am in pain or having a horrible day. Even though I have not been officially diagnosed, I also show all the signs of having depression. There have been many days when I have wanted to die because certainly death was better than living in constant pain. And when I am having a flare up, I never want to eat. I have to force food down my throat and force myself out of bed because the physical and mental anguish is too unbearable. For so long I have hated my body. Not out of insecurity or because I hate how I look, but because of all the pain it has caused me.

When I am not in pain, I feel mostly empty. I am learning to do things that add meaning to my life and to be around people who encourage me and are there for me as much as I try to be there for them and everything I have created here on the Internet has helped me get better, but when I flare-up, I have tunnel vision. My future feels like it’s been snatched out of my hands, never to be returned. A lot of the time I feel trapped within my own body. It controls how much I can do each day and how much I can participate in my own life and that is something that I am still learning to accept. I hate limitations and I try so hard to fix everything so I can avoid thinking about the one thing I can’t ever fix.


Chronic pain is so hard to describe. When my Celiac Disease was a lot worse and when I was still unaware that I was allergic to gluten , I would get an intense pain in my gut. The best way I could ever describe it was that it felt like someone had taken a rusty, dull blade and not only stabbed me in the gut but then continued to twist the blade around until I could hardly breathe or cope with the pain. I would just be out, shopping with my parents or playing at the park or at church and then it would hit me and I would have to pull away from whatever I was doing and go to the bathroom and would be there in the stall trying to remember how to breathe so I wouldn’t scream.

Arthritis isn’t a stabbing pain. It’s more like lack of movement. Everything aches but it’s a deep down kind of ache, the kind that never leaves. There is no getting better. There are just varying degrees of stiffness and sometimes sharp pain. It is like being hit by a bus and still being expected to get up and walk around like everything is fine. It is that feeling when something is really high up on a shelf and you keep on straining and pushing yourself to just reach, but you can’t quite make it. Then you jump and try to convince yourself that if you try again, you’ll be able to grab the thing off the shelf. But you can never grab that thing off the shelf, you can just look up at it and come to terms with the fact that your arm is not 3 inches longer and never will be.

I have finally reached a point in my life where I readily bring up my arthritis. I have spent most of my life hiding the fact that I have JIA because I didn’t want to face the questions and the pity. But most of all, I didn’t want to face the fact that I am broken.

People keep on telling me what an inspiration I am and how incredibly strong I am and I want to believe them but when I am laying in bed trying to find reasons to get up in the morning or on all those nights as a child when I cried myself to sleep, I don’t feel strong. I fell lonely and shattered beyond repair. I feel as though all the pain in the universe is condensed into my fragile body and all it would take is a word or a touch to fracture me irreparably. And maybe strength isn’t being invincible, but admitting that you are not.

Living with chronic pain is beyond difficult because you are not living. Mostly it is fighting to survive each and every day. It is like being thrown into a sword fight without a sword and you do what you can to fight back but mostly you are just trying not to die and to surrender to the opponents sword because it reaches a point where getting killed is easier and less painful than continuing to fight.

Living with a chronic illness is waiting rooms and endless questions from doctors. It is needles and examination rooms that smell like rubbing alcohol. It is sleepless nights and loneliness.  It is having people look at you but not seeing you. It is knowing that even if people are there for you, they won’t ever be able to understand what it is like to be you. They will never know how many times they have been lied to when you said “I am fine” instead of:

” I feel like dying and I am not sure if I can make it through today, much less the rest of my life but if I tell you all of this then I’ll have to face the sympathy in your eyes  and have you ask what you can do to make me feel better when there is nothing you can do and we both know it and if I tell you all of this, I will just go away feeling like a burden to everyone in my life and I can’t help but feel responsible for that. So don’t ask me if I am okay because I will never be okay. I am trying my best but I feel my life slipping away. So let me say “I am fine” because I am still fighting even though sometimes I can’t remember why”

I am also a self-saboteur. I have always struggled to take my medications because I didn’t want to face what is wrong with me. Before my relapse on March 9th, 2014, I had been eating gluten consistently for a year and that is why I fell out of remission and I have had active arthritis ever since that day and it is all my fault. I just wish I didn’t have arthritis. I hate it. And I hate myself for not taking better care of my body. I know I should have been doing more to get better and need to continue with taking my medication consistently and the only reason I have for not doing so all these years is that I didn’t want to accept that I have a problem. That I am broken.

I wish I had an optimistic conclusion to this but I don’t because the world is not a wish-granting factory. All I can say that if you are living with chronic illness, I understand what you are going through and I would love to hear your story. Be honest about your pain and don’t minimize it like I have been doing. I cannot remember what it is like to not be in pain but on my bad days, I can remember what it feels like to be alive, and all the people who are rooting for me and that is what keeps me going.

So yeah, I am broken.

But I am also strong.

 I Am Human

I walk with a spring in my step
So you can’t see me limp
I smile with tears in my eyes
But you can’t hear me crying
I am broken but




Someday I will rise up
Out of the pit I’ve been in
And I shall be magnificent
Are these just lies I tell myself?
To reach the other side
Where I live without




I am crumbling but

I am



Day by day I am broken but made whole
And one day, (or so I tell myself)
I will rise up above the skyline
And in ruins shall lay the old me
Right now I’m in construction
The old living with the new
Because it is human to break
It is human to crumble
It is human to build and rebuild
I am not invincible
I am afraid sometimes of my own voice
But the building blocks of the universe exist in my bones
I am human
And someday
(though it seems far off)
I will be made whole.

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My Week Of Firsts

Okay. I am here. I am at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro in an unfamiliar city on an unfamiliar campus in an unfamiliar room with unfamiliar people and starting to live an unfamiliar life. I keep on waiting for it to hit me but it hasn’t. I’m all unpacked and as I type this, I’m sitting alone in the game room of my dorm at 11:30 at night. As I was laying in bed, I was thinking about why I haven’t felt very disoriented and I think I have figured out why.

I am still me.

That alone sounds weird so let me explain. Because of the internet, I have been able to create myself. And slowly since last August, I been both building and discovering myself. And even though I am faced with so many new people and situations, it doesn’t change who I am. I still love to learn and to write, I am an optimist. I am a Christian. I am all the things that I was before but now I just have a different backdrop to my life and my existence. I know I am going to change but hopefully, it will be into all the things that are greater than I am now.

That aside, I have had a wonderful first day. My family left around noon and so I’ve just been unpacking and getting to know my hallmates since then and meeting up with a few of the people I met online which has been a lot of fun! It has been searing hot and unbearably humid all day so I’m hoping tomorrow will be better as far as weather goes. All day, I’ve been getting emails about my classes as professors have been uploading the syllabi online, which has me very excited for my classes to start.

Anyways, I am really tired and it is getting late! If you want to keep up with my life, you can do so on IG @kate_cruz17 and on August 20th, my roommate and I are launching a vlog! I hope y’all have a lovely week ! -Kate Cruz



It’s said that if you walk under the clock tower, you won’t graduate on time…


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My Week Of Lasts

So here it is. 9 days until I leave for college and this week is my last full week living in one of the only homes I have ever known since I was 7. This evening was my last time volunteering at the library I have practically grown up in and as I perused the aisles for the last time, I admit, I shed a few tears. It seemed odd to be crying because, at UNCG, I will have access to a 9 story library tower full of boundless information. But then I realized the reason I was so sad, was because, at UNCG, I am just passing through. But at my local library, it was mine. There lie the books that have shaped me into the young woman I am today. Once I crossed its threshold, I was no longer that lonely and awkward young girl, confused about her place in the universe. When I entered that building, I was something more. I was an explorer of worlds, a keeper of tales. And with each book held the message I desperately needed to hear. The message that promised, “You are not alone”. 

And the whole thing made me think about how temporary every stage in our lives are. Leaving that library tonight left me feeling displaced like I had lost some large part of myself. But that physical location has given me so much. It has given me hope and a love for learning. So now I am comforted by the thought that even though I am leaving so much, I will always hold the things I gained from these important places because they may not always reside in their location, but they will always reside in my heart. And because I was at home in that library, I shall be at home in all libraries for the rest of my life.

And so I have learned that we will never truly lose the things we love and the things that have made us who we are. And even though it will be awhile until I walk through those large glass doors, I will never lose the things that it has given me. Next week, I am leaving a lot behind. And this week, I will be doing a lot of things for the last time and I keep on reminding myself that it is okay for me to be sad about this. Through this all, I have managed to maintain a hopeful sort of sadness. The kind where even though tears may be streaming down my face, I still look up, and smile. -Kate Cruz

(dedicated to the librarians at the Walkertown Public Library who have played a very large role in making a physical location feel like home.) 








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30 Things I Love About Being Alive

It has been awhile since I have made a long list. Actually, I think the last one I wrote for this blog was “10 Weird Things About Me”. I just don’t want to forget all the beautiful reasons for living and all the things I love so here goes nothing!

  1. Sunday afternoons
  2. The way the night sky looks in winter/summer
  3. Sleeping at Last’ songs. All of them.
  4. late-night conversations
  5. laughing so hard that it hurts
  6. making art
  7. writing
  8. road trips
  9. good books
  10. understanding complex things
  11. exploring new places
  12. and rediscovering old ones
  13. the smell of autumn
  14. the warm sun on my face after a long winter
  15. libraries
  16. learning something new
  17. a cup of peppermint tea
  18. wild blackberries warmed by the sun
  19. being able to help people
  20. smiling without caring how crooked my smile is
  21. listening to stories
  22. thunderstorms
  23. finding beauty in the simple things
  24. and understanding the complex
  25. Chinese food
  26.  bad puns
  27. changing my mind
  28. movies that add meaning to my life
  29. comfortable silence
  30. making lists


What do like most about being alive?

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