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Its not all OOTDs: My Anxiety Story: Part 1

Its not all OOTDs: My Anxiety Story: Part 1


I’ve mentioned a few times here that I suffer from anxiety. Back in May, during Mental Health Awareness Month, I shared a little more about my struggle on Instagram. Every since that post I’ve wanted to share more, so I'm getting personal today! My hopes in this is to not only get a little deeper but to also connect to more people.

Today, I want to share the beginning of my anxiety and how it started to shape my life. In the future I want to share more on my journey with it and eventually get into how I cope with it and the steps I’ve taken in my life. Everyone’s anxiety is very different. I don’t expect anyone else to have the same exact same struggles that I have but maybe you can see a connection in parts of my story.

Although I didn’t always know what it was, I’ve had anxiety for as long as I can remember. As I was growing up I would stress at new changes. I loved school but I would worry failing, not having friends or not keeping up with my homework. I could find a hundred things to worry about and it would keep me on edge. My feelings went beyond the typical stress one feels and when I was a teenager started becoming much more intense. On my bad days, the typical social stresses we all have at that age could cause me to have a complete meltdown.

Many times my anxiety wasn’t triggered by something that was happening in my life but by something that could happen. My mind is constantly creating a ton of different scenarios of how things could turn out and what could happen. I would worry and fixate on the "what if’s" in life. Once I had these ideas, I couldn’t get rid of them. I had racing thoughts, feelings of dread and a lot of fear. I would even worry about how much I was worrying! This is when my anxiety changed from situational to more of a constant in my life. Many days I would have this “keyed up” feeling all day.

Like many, my anxiety shows itself in physical ways too. It typically starts with a heaviness in my chest that can move throughout my body. When it is really bad, my heart can race and I can feel short of breath. In High School I had my first panic attack which I can only describe as a mini heart attack with a feeling of a complete loss of control. Obviously a panic attack can be very scary, especially if you don’t know what it is. When I had my first one, my mom was with me and I was lucky that she knew what was happening and could calm me down. Then the worry of having another one added to my anxiety, which creates a vicious cycle. 

Obviously the changes that come with going to college can cause stress and a little anxiety for anybody. While exciting, all the “new” in the life of a college freshman can be a bit overwhelming. I loved my new life and being at OU was so much fun but of course it added many challenges for me. Making new friends, trying to feel comfortable, managing school and trying to have a social life pretty much consumed me. Add to that the unhealthy eating and lack of sleep that is a signature of college life and I had primed myself for more anxiety and panic attacks.

What some people don’t quite understand about anxiety is how people live with it. While I had a high level of anxiety, I could still go about my day, study, have fun and kind of hide the struggles I was having. Not that this is healthy, but I learned to separate the different “boxes” of my life and shut off what I wasn’t focused on in the moment. I would put difficult emotions or what I was dealing with in these boxes and not deal with them. This doesn’t mean the anxiety wasn’t there, it was more that I was ignoring and not working thru it. And in the long run this increased my anxiety. 

Because I was hiding most of my feelings and worries from myself, I was also keeping them from my family and friends. I am lucky to have incredible people in my life but I am naturally someone that doesn't easily share things. So never did I even think that I should be sharing about my anxiety with anyone. I didn't see how sharing could help me, so why would I burden those I loved with this? People in my life could probably see that I was stressed but I think I did a pretty good job at hiding the level at which I was struggling. Having some anxiety herself, my mom could recognize that I did too. She was the only one that I felt even slightly comfortable in being open with my struggle. Her and I always had a close relationship and talked daily so I would give her some details about my anxiety level. But most of the time this only happened when she asked about it several times or when it was so high I was about to burst. 

I really thought my level of anxiety and the constant heavy feeling I had was normal. And honestly it had basically become my new normal. When you have this same consistent feeling most days, it is hard to remember a time without it. Because I didn't really think I could help this feeling, I wasn't doing any work to make it better. I also thought that since I was doing well in school and making friends at college that I must be ok. And since I wasn't sharing with really anyone, no one could tell me that I shouldn't have to live with this intense level of anxiety. One of the biggest symptoms I struggle with is difficulty sleeping. I could lay in bed for hours and not fall asleep, even though I was exhausted. Then on nights when I could fall asleep, I would wake up in the middle of the night and not be able to fall back asleep. 

Only in hindsight did I realize I was boxing up my feelings. It was a subconscious way my mind taught me to cope so that I could live my life. I still had plenty of joy and fun in my life so I didn't see the problem in what I was doing. Not until I started therapy in my mid 20’s would I learn how to break this habit and that dealing with my anxiety, and all the emotions that come with it, was the only way that I could actually alleviate it.

Like I stated before, this is the just the beginning. For me, anxiety will be a lifelong struggle and I am thankful that I have the opportunity and platform to share with you. Later this month, I’ll be sharing the next part of my story and how 2 major life events affected it.   

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Kara Krittenbrink
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Beauty RX: Texture Spray

Beauty RX: Texture Spray


One question I seem to get quite often is what products I use in my hair. I'm relatively low maintenance when it comes to hair products. While styling my hair I typically only use one maybe two products. Unless I have freshly washed hair, I will use dry shampoo. This has been a staple in my hair arsenal for over a decade. My super thick hair is incredibly time consuming to blow dry so I love anything that can keep me from washing it a day or two more!


Since I don't use many, a hair product has to be pretty incredible for me to consider it a must. A few years ago I received a sample of this texture spray.  After experimenting with it I realized this is the hair product I've been missing! It creates the perfectly un-perfect style I'm always trying to achieve.

Texture spray is a dry spray that does exactly what the name sounds like, it adds texture. Unlike dry shampoo, texture spray isn't just applied to the roots. Texture spray can be sprayed all along your hair, from root to ends. It sprays in a fine mist and doesn't leave any residue or weight to your hair. It works well on about any hair texture or length. Since it doesn't have any weight, texture spray is great for adding volume and movement to your hair. Unlike most hair sprays, you can still run your fingers thru your hair after you use it. I've listed it on almost every hair tutorial that I've done.

You are probably now asking when you should use texture spray. With its versatility you can use it for tons of styles. Before you curl your hair, spray a light mist. This will add roughness to your strands which will help them curl. It also helps create the messy, beachy waves look which so many of us love. (See how I curl my hair with it here). It also helps revive second or third day hair. Spray it all over by lifting large sections and spraying throughout your whole head. Spraying it lightly will add some volume. The more concentrated you apply it the more defined your look will be. This works for straight hair as well!

Braids are also the perfect hairstyle for texture spray (see here). Before braiding spray a bit of texture spray on the strands. Your braid will be thicker! The grip the spray adds to your hair will also help the braid stay in place. Smaller pieces won't slip out. Once your hair is braided and tied off spray it again with the texture spray. Then pull on the individual strands to thicken the look of the braid (this is called pancaking). Texture spray will also add interest to a ponytail. There really is a ton of versatility with this product so take some time and experiment with your hair and see what it can do. 


Texture sprays have become more common lately and there seems to be one at every price point! The Rusk texture spray is my favorite. The cost is middle of the road but worth every penny! Oribe makes incredible hair products and I've heard great things about their dry texturizing spray. This OUAI Texturizing Spray also absorbs oil so I think it would be like a hybrid of a texturizing spray and a dry shampoo!

Let me know if you use texture spray an what other hair products you consider a must have!


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Kara Krittenbrink
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Dress + Sneaker Pairing

Dress + Sneaker Pairing


The last few weeks I shared some of my favorites dresses (here) and sneakers (here). Both can be worn with countless other things, I have been combining the two. If you follow me on instagram you've seen evidence in a lot of my recent OOTDs. I have had some questions about how I pair dresses with sneakers so today I'm posting a few of my favorite combinations to provide some inspiration using mainly items from the precious posts!

There really are no rules with how to put together dresses and sneakers. If it's out of your comfort zone (like it originally was for me) then sometimes a little inspiration can help. 

This is my favorite board because both dresses look good with either sneaker. A denim dress will look great with almost any pair of sneakers. Prints, textures, bright colors and neutrals look equally chic with denim. For an impact, I love the combination of this hot pink dress and tie dye sneakers. This look is dressy enough for nicer events. I think it would be especially cute for brunch or a shower. 

An easy way to coordinate is sticking within the same color palette. For example, if a dress has warm colors, like coral, then find sneakers with warm colors like the pink and red in these. It's okay that the colors don't match exactly, the fact that they are in the same color family means they'll coordinate. I also love the contract of the athletic shoes with the dressy outfit.

These glitter sneakers do make a statement but I've been wearing them with everything! I would wear them with any of the dress in this post

Print mixing can sometimes be intimidating. One combo I will always love is leopard and basic stripes. Both prints are classics but when combined become a fashion forward look. 
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Kara Krittenbrink
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Nordstrom Anniversary Sale

Nordstrom Anniversary Sale


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It is time again for the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale. I know it is a really crazy time right now and many of us aren't shopping at all or at least cutting back on our spending. There are many more important things happening in this world than a sale. But in case you are interested, I wanted to put together on comprehensive post on it. This one will be saved on the top of the site for you to come back to during the sale. I will also update it with any new items that are added. 

If you have shopped the sale in years past you may find that some things look pretty similar. A lot of the shoes and sweaters are very similar from year to year. Many brands feature the same product each year just the new season's version. So if you have purchased some items in the past you will see the new version. The great thing is that you know the items are still in style!

First, you'll have to find out when you can shop. The chart below shows the dates of the sale. If you have a Nordstrom card, you'll need to look up your status to see when your early access starts. The chart below has all the dates listed. What is great that this year you can preview whats on sale. If you find some things you like, save then in your wishlist and then when your shopping window opens, you'll be able to easily add them to your cart. 

What makes this sale a little different than others is that pre-season items are on sale. Which means a lot of Fall/Winter items are on sale now. When the sale is over they will go back to their regular price.

I look at this sale in two ways. It can be a good time to stock up on a few Fall items you'll need or it can be a great time to get a splurge worthy item or two at a better price. Many of the items I bought in years past are things I still love and will wear for years. Jeans are a great item to get during this sale! 

Clothes

We all know a classic black dress is always needed in your wardrobe. Work functions, dinner, a night out, weddings, the list goes on and on of events that a black dress is appropriate for. Many times when I am uninspired on what to wear, I go to a black dress because I know it will be flattering and stylish.  I love the mixed materials and pleated skirt on this one. 

One of my favorite items on sale are the Spanx faux leather leggings. I wear them at least once a week in the Fall and Winter. They are always on my must buy list for the cooler weather because they fit so well, are flattering and can be dressy or casual!

Beyond black dresses, the sale has some great fall dresses. This red and white midi dress is beautiful and would pair so well with these white booties! This blue print dress is a great transitional dress. I'd wear it now with my sparkle sneakers from this post and then when it gets colder, layer a sweater over it and add booties.

Madewell makes my favorite jeans! I have several pairs including these black ones. During the Fall and Winter I think I wear my black jeans more than my blue denim. Paired with a black bootie or heel, they create a long lean line and are so flattering. Black jeans can also add a bit of edge to an outfit!

Vince makes some of my absolute favorite sweaters! They are incredibly soft, flattering and stylish. They are made with high quality fabrics so will last for years. This brand is definitely a splurge but I try to get one nice new sweater a year to add to my wardrobe, knowing I will have it forever. 



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Accessories

Last year I was on the search for a pair of white booties. It took awhile to find a pair I love that looked high quality and the leather didn't have too much shine. This pair is very similar to the ones I bought. What I've loved most about a white bootie is how you can wear them thru most seasons.  These croc heels are another great transitional item. They come in four colors and the blush is really tempting! Another blush item I love are these slip-ons. Cole Haan shoes are so comfortable too!

I wish I need a new tote because I am loving this Clare V. leopard one. It's a great size to carry everything and has options to carry it crossbody or with two handles. The leopard isn't calf hair so it will last longer and not wear as easily.

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Beauty

This lip kit is included in this sale almost every year. Last year I bought it and completely fell in love with the color. The color Pillow Talk is well known as the perfect nude lip color that looks good on everyone and so far I believe the claim because I haven't found anyone that doesn't look good in it. 

Kate Sommerville's Exfolikate is one of my favorite exfoliants. Nothing makes my skin softer and smoother and you don't need to use it that often. This post shares how I use it. It is a bit pricey so I typically buy the small tubes and use sparingly but I plan to get this big tube so that I will have it for the next year. 

Supergoop is basically the only brand of sunscreen I buy! The 3 pack of the antioxidant sprays is a great deal and will get you way past the rest of the summer. And since my skin never sees the sun, I am always using this tanning foam. I mention the foam here as well. 
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Kara Krittenbrink
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Statement Sneakers

Statement Sneakers


The fact that sneakers and tennis shoes are one of the biggest trends right now is no coincidence. I've shared a lot recently about how I've been dressing more causal lately. One of the biggest changes I've made is my footwear. I have completely embraced wearing sneakers with almost everything!

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 Until this last year, I never wore sneakers outside the gym unless I was on a vacation. I had one pair of casual sneakers to wear for those few instances. A few months ago, I purchased this pair to try out this trend. I was wearing them so much that I wanted another pair and bought these glittery ones!

My favorite combination is dresses and sneakers! It really has become my go to for pretty much every occasion I've had lately. All of the dresses in this post would look great with sneakers. I love the touch of leopard on this pair paired with a sophisticated dress. It can be a bit intimidating to pair dresses and sneakers. A simple formula to begin with is keeping one item simple and the other item can be more of a statement. Ex. A denim or solid colored dress with this leopard pair. I will admit, as I have become comfortable with this look, I've broke this rule and mix patterns and colors.

If you are just getting into wearing sneakers, then I would highly recommend this white pair, this gold pair or this pair with the blush stripe! All three of them would go with most items in your wardrobe. They'll be easier to incorporate with dressy or casual items. By contrast, if you want something colorful, this tie dye pair and this bright pair will make a statement. My favorite pair are these, which are definitely a splurge but the mix of textures make the neutral colors really pop!
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Kara Krittenbrink
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