Extraordinaries

The past 30 or so hours have felt different than what I’ve accepted as normal lately. It’s not that everything has gone perfectly and lived up to every unrealistic expectation I might have. In fact, I think most things have deviated from the “plan.”

But I’ve noticed every single little beauty and blessing.

That tends to happen to me a lot at this time of year. Everything is so gorgeous with the leaves changing color and dropping, so cozy with the cooling temperatures and return of the blankets, so delicious with more apple flavored treats than I ever imagined and so exciting with the growing number of birthdays and the anticipation of the holidays.

This year has been extra special for me, not only with the addition of my nephew, but with the quality of my time spent with family and friends (with a few exceptions).

It got to the point yesterday where I actually thought, “How did I get so lucky to have such an extraordinary life when so many people live such ordinary lives?” But I know that my life looks pretty ordinary to a lot of people, too. I guess that’s the secret, though. You have to recognize all of the extraordinaries in your life, no matter how big or small. They add up fast!

My dad and I were walking around soaking in all of the fall colors last night and our conversation turned toward an old, ailing tree that I’ve always called The Tree of Life. It sits alone on top of the highest hill on our property and our most beloved pets are buried beneath it. We were trying to figure out what we want to replace it with when it inevitably dies. I kept suggesting a tree that would either flower in the spring or change colors in the fall. While my dad agreed, he pointed out that those trees don’t grow very fast.

As we wandered, we pointed out all of the trees that could work. At some point my dad suggested an Oak. Oaks are pretty much his favorite trees. He went through a period where he saved every little Oak seedling because there weren’t many trees around. Now he has forests of towering Oaks. Because of the number of Oaks we already had, I immediately dismissed that idea. But as we made our way around the property for the second time, I noticed that there weren’t nearly as many Oaks on the back half as there were on the front half.

And then I thought: If I’m going to continue to call the tree on the hill–whatever it may be–The Tree of Life, what better tree is there to represent our family? Oaks are big, strong, sturdy, stable trees. That’s how I think of my dad, the leader of our family, the one who created such an amazing life for his family. We already have so many memories planted on that hill, why not go all the way?

That’s kind of when it hit me. That’s the moment that all of those little extraordinaries provided me with that overwhelming sense of gratitude.

I don’t know how to carry this with me throughout the rest of the year, but I’m so incredibly grateful for the little glimpses this season has provided.

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The Wait

It’s a lonely night.

I’m lucky enough to have someone I can reach out to in these instances, but that doesn’t mean that it’s easy to do.

I still have trouble stripping back all the layers and being completely vulnerable.

Without any of us realizing it, my parents raised me to keep the ugly feelings inside. Me being of the generation I am, that doesn’t feel natural. I feel like I should be able to be me, ugly or pretty, all the time. But I have to unlearn the bad habits and retrain myself. And I desperately want to.

But it’s hard.

It’s really hard to grow up.

I have these flashes of clarity and confidence, but that’s all they are. They disappear as quickly as they appear and leave me feeling hopeless.

I know I’ll find my path one day, but the wait is excruciating.

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Unfollow

I’m just going to say it: Facebook sucks.

I mean it’s amazing, but it sucks.

I have learned that my mind just can’t handle the constant comparisons. So-and-so is engaged! So-and-so is married! So-and-so is pregnant! So-and-so bought a house! So-and-so got a new “grown up” job! So-and-so had so much fun drinking with friends last night! So-and-so went on an incredible vacation! So-and-so has the best family!

Carrie doesn’t care! Or rather, Carrie does care and is actually a little jealous.

See, all I hear in my mind is: I’m not engaged, I’m not married, I’m not pregnant, I didn’t buy a new house, I don’t have a “grown up” job, I don’t go drinking with friends, I didn’t go on an incredible vacation, I don’t have the best family.

I’m not recognizing the joys of the little things in my life. It’s making me question my relationships (we don’t do that, so we must not be as close as them). It’s making me feel inferior. I’m such a loser.

And I’m done with that mindset. I’m done with the comparisons. I can’t live like that anymore.

Last week I did a little experiment. It was hard, but I kind of gave up Facebook. I only let myself check it once in the morning. That’s it. (We actually did have an incredible little day trip, (which I should share with you sometime) which helped for about 2 days.)

Then my sister-in-law posted a video of my niece. And my cousin posted a picture of her little one. And one of my best friends posted a picture of her family on vacation.

I realized that I was a lot happier without it, but I didn’t want to give it up completely. I still love seeing posts from my closest friends and my extended family that I don’t get to see often. And oddly enough, those don’t stir up any jealous feelings.

So today I unfollowed everyone I wouldn’t acknowledge if they walked past me on the street. Which ended up being most of my “friends.”

We’ll see if I feel like I’m missing out on anything, although I don’t think I will.

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Baggage

The teeter-totter continues.

I don’t know how to talk about this stuff anymore. It’s a big thing to put your baggage out there for the world to see. Even if it’s only a teensy, tiny corner of the great big blogosphere. Even if it’s only one of your best friends.

After causing what I might call a stink, I finally got to hang out with one of my best (and busiest) friends this week. I had made a loose promise to myself and to her that I was going to talk about certain deep subjects. I made a promise to myself that I was going to let myself go and just go with the flow. I broke both of those promises.

Now, however, I think it turned out exactly how it was supposed to. In the aftermath, I made some more bad decisions and, somehow, got the message and validation I was yearning for all along.

I don’t know what this means. I can’t sit around and analyze everything anymore. That’s one of the lessons I learned that night.

I actually had an anxiety attack as I was trying to fall asleep. I know that there are people out there whose anxiety strikes more powerfully and more often than mine, but that was a wake-up call for me. My mind is constantly playing games with me and taking me places it doesn’t need to, but it usually quiets down enough for me to be able to fake it and, damn it, fall asleep!

But that night my mind just kept screaming at me and replaying the days events through a darkened lens. I couldn’t escape the thoughts. I needed a release. I felt like I was possessed. I sat up and yelled at my brain to STOP as loud as I felt comfortable doing with my parents a few rooms away. I didn’t notice for a few seconds that I was sobbing uncontrollably.

I made no effort to stop.

I watched the clock as the minutes ticked by. After the longest five minutes of my life, I realized I wasn’t crying anymore.

A few minutes later, I received the texts I had been waiting for. One of them simply said, “Don’t let your mind start running.”

I don’t think anything had ever hit home like that. All of a sudden I felt very secure.

The next morning I woke up feeling motivated and happy. The feeling hasn’t really left all week and it’s starting to give me more confidence. I finally feel like I can stop trying to prove myself and just be myself.

My anxiety never goes away completely, but I’m starting to notice some triggers that really cause it to spiral out of control. If I can identify them, I can avoid them. Learning to live with anxiety is also a lesson in self-control. It’s definitely a process.

My birthday is in about a week, so I’m really curious to see how that unfolds. 22 has taught me a lot, but I have a feeling it still has a few more surprises in store.

As always, I will try my best to Keep Calm & Carrie On.

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Mind Games

I don’t know what’s going on in my head…I’m so uninterested in everything. Life has been crazy busy lately and I hate it. I mean, I like it in the moment because every minute has a purpose, but when it all stops, like today, all the emotions just overwhelm me.

Right now I’m feeling all of the little snubs and judgments from my mom, all of the nights I didn’t want to fall asleep, all of the innocent but hurtful comments and questions from one of the kids I nanny, all of the unanswered texts, all of the situations where I feel I embarrassed myself, the disappointment that my mom is actually retired, the heartbreak of saying goodbye to our llama and the fear that this is it for me.

I went through a period this spring where I really felt like I was supported by the adults in my life. Everyone I told about nannying would praise me for being resilient enough to handle that all the time. But now I’m feeling the opposite. I seem to be encountering more people now who expect a lot more of me. And I just can’t handle the emotion that comes with that. Because, I think, on some level I know they’re right. It’s like when people say it’s easier to believe the negative opinions of you than the positive.

I want to love what I’m doing and I know that this is what I want to be doing, but I just can’t seem to ignore everyone else’s opinions. I feel like they need me to move on and challenge myself, but I feel like I’m already challenging myself by sticking with this. It’s really hard to basically want to just be a 50s housewife in an era of female empowerment. I respect all of the women who truly do want to go out into the workforce and make a difference and “have it all.” But I’m not one of them. And I just wish that people would respect that.

My mom was truly a trailblazer. She was one of a handful of women in her class at dental school in the early to mid 70s. That’s a lot to live up to. Because of her persistence and determination, I feel like the people who have known her the longest expect similar from me. I don’t want to disappoint anyone, but I also need to do what I want to do.

I know, I know. As long as I am truly happy with my life, they will be too.

But my mind likes to play games.

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P.S. I hope to post a bathroom update soon! It’s looking incredible!

Summer of Change

There are lot of changes happening this summer.

My parents are currently at my mom’s retirement dinner with her coworkers. She has one more day of work left, next Tuesday, followed by a few weeks of moving everything out and then she’s done. It’s very exciting for her, but a little scary for my dad and I. We have no idea how she’s going to fill her time–she’s starting to show signs of maybe being ready to slow down a bit, but she’s always been a very busy and involved person. We’ve learned how to keep the house running without her around and, honestly, really like it that way.

We are also in the midst of a bathroom renovation that rapidly grew to include siding, trim, carpet and other odd jobs around the house. My dad and I spent a good portion of Mother’s Day moving everything from my room and bathroom down to the guest bedroom and bathroom. (We let my mom do whatever she wanted; she chose gardening.) We didn’t realize how bad the bathroom looked until it was all emptied out!

Since I moved downstairs, we’ve discovered more and more things to improve in that bathroom. We’re replacing just about everything that doesn’t require more than a drill or a wrench to remove.

 

My bathroom is getting a little more work done…

I was really dreading the first day of demo. I thought I would really miss my space, but now that it’s all torn apart I’m just really excited for the finished product, which should be stunning! They’re putting up drywall next week, so things will really start taking shape!

On the less exciting end of the spectrum, my parents think they’ve found a new home for our last llama, Rosie. The process really sped up after a visit from one of my uncles. He tends to make things happen and straight up asked my dad why we still had Rosie. He hadn’t even been in the house five minutes when he called up a llama farm in eastern Wisconsin. That didn’t pan out, but he was applying some pressure and my dad finally decided to look into it seriously. They found a petting zoo about 90 minutes south of here that’s interested.

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I’m having trouble adjusting to the thought of not having any llamas. I was only two when my parents got the first two, which means that we’ve had them for 20 years. And Rosie was the only one who was born here. She’s never known anything different and now they’re going to send her to a petting zoo? She still seems to be pretty happy here, even if she doesn’t have any other llamas to socialize with. And I can’t imagine not having llamas around for my niece and nephew. My dad can understand that. Which is why he’s agreed to having chicks, ducks or pheasants every spring. Birds fly away before winter! So we now have four chicks.

So, yeah. Lots of changes. This will be an interesting summer.

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Midnight Musings

I wrote this last night as I was lying in bed. I was determined to not touch my phone once I crawled into bed. But as I lay there with my eyes closed, I felt content. I haven’t felt that level of contentment in a long time, so I knew I had to write about it.


I really do feel like I’ve been learning a lot about myself this year. I mean, I better be; I said this has to be the Year of Carrie.

On paper it may not look like much has changed, but I’m starting to feel different inside. I’m starting to discover new parts of myself and learning how to label and deal with some older parts.

I think a lot of that has to do with shifting my focus from kids to me. At the end of last year I made the decision to stop dedicating entire posts to my niece, who basically was my 2016. That started the domino effect. I found a perfect outlet for all of my excitement surrounding the kids and all of a sudden it started feeling okay to put myself first.

I started paying attention to the things I swept under the rug for years. I did research and came to a better understanding of why I am the way I am. I started to notice how individual things make me feel–physically and emotionally. I started listening to my body and doing things that felt good and–this was big for me–stopped doing things that didn’t. I started making conscious decisions about my relationships with family and friends. Everything seems to have become more deliberate.

But I feel so much more free.

I cannot believe we’re almost at the halfway point of 2017. What more can I possibly learn about myself?!

Just kidding!

I can’t wait to see what else 2017 will teach me!

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