Breakthrough

I think I just had a breakthrough.

I have always been a very anxious person. I worry about everything. And then I worry about the fact that I worry about everything. No exaggeration.

Before sending pretty much any text, I have to reread it at least 3 times–are there any grammatical errors? Embarrassing. Is the wording perfect? Is that really the right emoji? I don’t want to be offensive in any way. Do I use too many emojis? Not enough? Ugh, again, embarrassing. Is it too long? Too short? Don’t want to drone on and be a bore or appear rude. Have I texted this person too often lately? Don’t want to look desperate. Not enough? Don’t want to appear uninterested. *Send* Why did I just do that?! They probably won’t read it anyway. And if they do, they definitely won’t respond. 

I need to know how a day is going to play out the night before. If I don’t have a general idea of what is going to happen, I can’t fall asleep. If plans change, it’s like the world was turned upside down. You want to try a NEW restaurant for dinner?! But I was excited about making a roast! Where is it? That’s kind of a sketchy area. What if we get lost and something bad happens? What if the restaurant isn’t clean? What if the food is terrible? What if there’s no one else there, so everyone can hear what we’re talking about? What if there are too many people there and it’s so loud we can’t hear each other? 

I used to be terrified that someone was going to break into our house and kidnap me or kill my family in front of me. Those were real thoughts that I had nightly and sometimes they seeped into my dreams. I can still remember one recurring dream I had where these thugs came in the middle of the day posing as some kind of tradesmen and they would threaten my parents and I would sneak out of the house and run as far as I could. But they would always find me. I would ask my parents multiple times before bed to check that all the doors were locked (even though we live in a very safe area). I also asked them to leave a TV on as long as they were awake, so I would know they were still safe. Every rustle or creak convinced me that those thoughts were finally coming true. There was definitely someone walking around the house with a gun. Because of those thoughts and dreams, I became scared of answering the phone and the door. To this day, I will not answer a phone call or the door unless I know without a doubt who it is and what their purpose is. (I literally hide from UPS and FedEx.)

I also have social anxiety. I’ve always been shy, but I think this goes beyond it. If I’m talking to someone I don’t know face to face, especially if they are in some position of authority, my face gets beet red, I start sweating like a crazy person and come this close to crying. My brain shuts down. I can’t process anything. If I have to initiate a phone call with someone I don’t know, it takes at least 45 minutes for me to actually dial and press send. I have to psych myself up. That’s okay as a kid, but it’s pretty hard to function in the adult world if you can’t effectively communicate with people you don’t know.

There were periods in my life when that anxiousness completely took over and smothered the real me. (I would prefer not to revisit that time, so let your imagination run free. It’ll probably end up where mine did.)

For some reason I really felt like I was supposed to learn more about anxiety last night (I don’t know why I had never done so in the past). I remembered reading something about Emma Stone being very anxious (finally the La La Land obsession paid off!). I did a quick search and came across this article where she talks about how debilitating it was when she was younger and a book she made to help deal with it.

“I wrote this book called I Am Bigger Than My Anxiety that I still have: I drew a little green monster on my shoulder that speaks to me in my ear and tells me all these things that aren’t true. And every time I listen to it, it grows bigger. If I listen to it enough, it crushes me. But if I turn my head and keep doing what I’m doing – let it speak to me, but don’t give it the credit it needs – then it shrinks down and fades away.”

As I kept rereading that quote last night, I realized that that felt familiar. It wasn’t until this morning when I started reflecting on it in my journal that it really hit me.

I’ve been thinking of myself as this negative person for years. But when I’m not listening to that little voice in my ear, I’m actually a very happy and positive person! I don’t like being a Debbie Downer. It doesn’t feel natural. Happiness feels natural. Laughing feels natural. Joking feels natural. Being hopeful and positive feels natural. It’s the voice that brings me down. I’ve been feeding it for far too long.

It’s made me realize that I don’t have a million huge problems, like it sometimes feels. I have one major problem that presents itself in a million little ways. And it always seems easier to fix one problem than a million all at once!

I feel like I can finally see the sun coming out from behind the clouds!

I don’t know how much this new outlook will change, but I feel a lot more hopeful than I have in a long time!

(I definitely reread this 3 times before pressing “Publish.” I’m hoping this will be helpful to someone, just like Emma’s story was helpful to me.)

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Remembering a Dream

You know that feeling when you’re trying to remember a really good dream after you wake up? That’s how I’ve been feeling lately when I listen to La La Land. I feel like it’s supposed to inspire me somehow. But I can never quite grasp it.

If I’m being honest, I was starting to get a little sick of the music. Then one day last week I stopped singing along and just listened.

That is so much more powerful.

It moved me.

I feel inspired to do something–I just don’t know what it is I’m supposed to do.

It calms me, which is actually enough right now. It centers me.

My life has been a lot more hectic since we got back from Hawaii. Next week will be the first really normal week, schedule-wise.

So I suppose I’ve needed that one steady thing to bring me back from the craziness.

I think I’m in for a year of self-discovery.

Finding My Somewhere

I have to admit something:

I. Love. La La Land.

Actually, I don’t just love it. I’m a teeny bit obsessed with it.

And by obsessed, I mean I’ve seen it in theaters 4 times and have had the soundtrack playing almost constantly on a loop for more than a month now.

As I was listening to this song for the thousandth time (at this point in my obsession that’s probably not even an exaggeration anymore) this morning, this line grabbed my attention. It already stands out, since it isn’t directly surrounded by any other lyrics. But it hit me in a more personal way today.

“Is someone in the crowd the only thing you really see? Watching while the world keeps spinning round. Somewhere there’s a place where I’ll find who I want to be. A somewhere that’s just waiting to be found.”

I have spent my whole life wanting to be someone in the crowd just watching other people live their lives. It’s safer that way. And I’ve been able to get away with that for a long time.

But now I’m starting to feel like I have to start living more boldly.

But when–and how–is my purpose going to make itself apparent?

My dad was telling me that if he’d known that everything would work out, he would’ve taken advantage of and enjoyed his single years more.

But it’s hard to appreciate the stage you’re at when you’re not positive that it actually will work out.

But then again, how positive can you be that something is really going to work out–even the best things can go downhill.

I feel like I should be enjoying this time a lot more than I am. I’m still trying to figure out who I am, I’m living at home, I’m single, I have an extremely flexible job and I’m still young.

Yet I find myself worrying about the future all. the. time.

I know I have to put myself out there more to get everything I’ve always wanted for my life, but it’s so comfortable in my bubble.

As I was looking through random notes on my phone the other day, I came across this quote:

Let your faith be stronger than your fears.

I saw it in my new favorite store in Hawaii and it made me think. I completely forgot about it, until I stumbled across it a few days ago.

I’m having a little trouble with the faith part right now. My fears have always had a tendency to take over. 
But I’m trying to think about this quote throughout the day and make different choices.

Because nothing will change if nothing changes.

I have to go out and find my somewhere. 

It’s Time

It feels good to be writing again! We’ve been pretty busy this past month and I needed some time to think about what I want and need to change this year.

My nephew was born a few days before Christmas and he’s the most chill baby I’ve ever seen! He’s been a snuggler, snorer, and smiler since day one! And he makes the most adorable puppy noises! I’ve decided to call him PB on this blog. Him and his sister (who seriously grew up in the last 2 weeks!) are PB & J! My brother is having a lot of fun with that! The first 2 weeks of PB’s life were filled with lots of family and friend get-togethers to show off our new pride and joy!

Then my parents, my best friend and I jetted off to Hawaii for 2 weeks! We spent one week on the Big Island and one week in Honolulu. We all needed that break for our own reasons, but I feel like I really learned a lot about myself.

It had been 5 years since we’d been on the Big Island and I had always regretted not ziplining while we were there. Well, this year we finally did it! I was getting pretty anxious on the drive over, but I was never really nervous. My parents, especially my dad, were pretty nervous, though! I knew it was safe and that I would love it, but it’s hard to scare those butterflies away!

I didn’t, however, think that I would love it as much as I did.

Neither did my parents.

They honestly thought that I would chicken out. My mom told me how proud she was after almost every run. They didn’t think that I would be able to overcome the fear.

But I was never scared.

It was exhilarating!

It was very unlike me. It made me think about some other (smaller) fears that I could overcome with this new confidence.

Then the next day we took a sunrise helicopter tour around the island. I get sick on regular airplanes…so we were all a little hesitant about it. I decided not to take any drugs, because I hate the drowsiness that comes with them.

I didn’t need them.

Again, I loved it! It wasn’t quite as exhilarating as the zipline, but, again, I overcame a major fear of mine.

(I couldn’t, however, overcome the 7-hour plane ride home with as much confidence.)

The rest of the trip was rather dull in comparison, but still enjoyable.

We landed at 5 am Saturday morning and only had a few hours to clean up and catch some z’s before some last-minute company arrived for the night. My brother brought the kiddos over for a sweet reunion and I was asleep by 8:30 pm.

Yesterday was the real recovery day. And last night as I was trying to fall asleep, I knew what I needed to write today.

I need some accountability on this, which is why I need to write it here.

It’s time for me to grow up.

2017 needs to be the year of Carrie.

I need to continue learning about myself and, most importantly, challenging myself.

I need to start seriously thinking about a career.

I have decided that that means two things:

  1. Posts that focus on me. After taking some time to think about, I’m just not comfortable with the number of posts last year that were all about J. Last year was all about the kids, and I need this year to be about me. This will be a challenge, but I think it will be good for me. I haven’t yet decided how I will channel that excitement about the kiddos, but I think it needs to be something more personal and private than public.
  2. I need to make time every day to write. I’ve seen this technique all over the internet and in various books and I’ve decided to try it. It doesn’t matter if this leads to anything–writing is something that has always calmed me and allowed me to think through things in a more tangible way. Toward the end of last year, I decided to commit time every day to exercise and now I’m addicted. It makes me feel so good! I’m equating this to mental exercise. I need to take care of my body and my mind. I’m not sure if this will be in the form of blog posts, in fact I actually doubt it. But it will certainly help me focus my posts on me.

I have never been a resolution person and I’m not even going to consider this a resolution, because resolutions rarely work. This is a process for me. It’s a journey. It’s an adventure.

I can’t wait to see what other discoveries this will lead to in the year ahead and I’m excited to take you along for the ride.

Wish me luck!

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December

I love December.

Because, as you know, I love Christmas. And December is basically just Christmas.

December is also the month of babies in my family this year. And, I mean, I don’t know, do you think I like babies?!

My “twin” cousin just had her little girl this morning and we’re all kind of betting on my sister-in-law having her little boy this week!

Combine those two things, Christmas and babies, and really what else do you need?!

I felt like I was going overboard with my Christmas shopping this year, but then I realized most of the stuff was for me…whoops. I’m really really enjoying the giving part of Christmas lately, though. I haven’t been able to give any suggestions for myself in years, but I have so many ideas for my parents, brother or sister-in-law, niece, or even friends. It’s a strange new era for me.

Another thing that’s strange for me is that I’m not really getting all of the familial warm and fuzzies I talked about in my last post. My dad and I are still doing all of the traditions, but my mom has no interest. Like, no interest.

I used to have an order that I would want to watch all of the Christmas movies in. I guess I thought it was important to her too, so I’d always wait for nights when we were all home. This year, when we tell her we’re watching a movie, she grabs a snack and watches her British dramas in her bedroom. Because she’s been so blatant about it, the magic has greatly diminished for me, so we’ve been *gasp* watching the movies out of order.

I also seem to remember at least 2 years when we had a little tradition of all of us putting the tree up together while watching (the first movie of the season) White Christmas. This year, while my friend and I were partaking in a Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life binge, my dad literally brought the tree home, set it on the deck and said “Okay, here’s your tree, Carrie.” put it in the stand (okay, with a little help), put the lights on, put the angel on top and put all of the ornaments on. There was no “we.” It was a little sad, honestly.

also put up all of the Christmas decorations around the house, which my mom used to help with.

The only tradition we’ve truly kept alive this year is my dad and I putting up the outdoor decorations together to avoid being sucked in to one of my mom’s projects.

I’m not trying to sound down. It’s just an adjustment for me. I’m starting to realize what my Christmases going forward might look like.

Growing up feels weird.

That’s why I need to hang out with all of these cute babies being born!!

I seriously cannot wait to meet the little dude!

Here’s the last calendar page for 2016:

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I haven’t decided yet if I will be sharing pages from next year’s calendar…cliffhanger.

Now that I see the page, I feel bad that I didn’t say anything about my best friend!! I think I summed it up pretty well last year! I love that dog more than any person (maybe he’s tied with that little girl)! He is literally the best, most constant and loyal friend I’ve ever had! Ugh, LOVE HIM. SO MUCH.

Merry Christmas!!

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Already Dreaming in White

We got our first snow of the season today! If there was a little bit more snow involved, this would’ve been a blizzard, because the wind is crazy! If there’s any left tomorrow, it’ll probably only amount to about a half an inch.

But it was enough to make me crave Christmas music and movies and fires and stockings and Christmas villages and cookies and, most of all, a Christmas tree! Diana Krall, Tony Bennett, Bing Crosby and Michael Bublé are serenading me as I write this!

Usually we jet off to Hawaii for New Years, but this year thanks to my little nephew (and, honestly, our poor planning) we won’t be leaving until a little later in January. Because we’re usually gone for New Years, my dad takes the tree down a few days after Christmas. I would personally leave it up half way through January! So his compromise has been letting me start the Christmas season the day after Thanksgiving. But this year, I just can’t shake it! Even though I’ll get an extra week or so on the other end, I NEED IT TO START NOW!

I used to love this time of year because of all of the things. I loved decorating for Christmas and listening to the music and watching the movies and making (and eating) the cookies, and, of course, the tree and presents. And I still love all of that, but it’s different now.

When I went to college, it became more about the people and the feeling of Christmas than the things. It became the time of year when I was reminded over and over and over again how much I love everyone in my family and how grateful I am, especially, for my immediate family.

And when Juliana came along, oh boy! It’s 100% feelings now! I’m just a giant ball of mush in December! Literally everything can make me cry!

I think my mom thought I was pretty crazy when I turned the Christmas music on today. But I felt like I was in a Christmas movie.

My dad was sitting on the couch pretending to be asleep and Juliana would “sneak” up to him and scream to wake him up. He would jump a little and tickle her, and her sweet little giggle radiated through the house. Then she would want “Mo! Mo, Papa!”

I was sitting on the floor across the room watching the shenanigans and I started tearing up a little bit! Their adorableness, the Christmas music playing in the background, the snow falling outside, and my mom beaming in the kitchen just put me over the edge. I felt like my heart was going to burst!

That’s what Christmas is.

Forget Thanksgiving, I’m already dreaming of a White Christmas!

(Fun fact: White Christmas is the title of my favorite Christmas song and movie! Who doesn’t like the classics?!)

And I’m not the only one:

Have I ever mentioned that he’s a snow dog?!

Now I have to go listen to Michael Bublé’s “White Christmas” about a million times!

Happy Friday and almost Thanksgiving AND CHRISTMAS (too far?!)!

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November

I’ve been a little preoccupied this month.

I live in an extremely political family and there’s a divide, so I’ve pretty much been holding my breath for the past 2-3 weeks. I can’t wait for the election to be over–I know the talk will continue, but at least there’ll be an answer to the question that has been the center of family conversations for the past 2 years. (I’m also kind of excited to watch the results come in, whichever way it ends up going!)

To help me cope with the 24/7 election talk and Vikings downturn (Boo!), I’ve become a bit of an exercise nut. When the weather allows, I go for multiple walks a day and my evenings are spent on our brand spanking new sit down elliptical! I get to watch whatever I want (which is never news) and don’t feel one ounce of guilt about it!

What does make me feel guilty now is every minute spent on my computer. I kind of can’t stand sitting still now. Which hasn’t given me much motivation to keep writing. But here I am! It’s finally a cool, cloudy day and my dad has all of the shades down, per dermatologist’s orders.

I’ve been thinking about a lot of things concerning the little girl lately. I love taking pictures of her, but no one else appreciates it, so it’s been a bit of an internal battle. A few months ago I was really excited to make a photo album of all of the fun times we’ve had with her this year, but now I’m struggling with that, too. I also realize that this year she has been the main topic of my blog posts. Not that there’s anything wrong with that–she’s kind of the best part of my life right now.

The problem is she’s not my daughter.

If she was my daughter, these wouldn’t even be considerations for me. I would take as many pictures as I wanted and make as many photo albums as I wanted and write as many posts about her as I wanted.

My mom, rather bluntly, reminded me that there are other people in Juliana’s family who might feel jealous of our relationships with her. Some weeks we end up spending more awake time with her than her parents, and I love that, but she has other family that she only sees a few times a year.

It’s a tough pill to swallow for me, but I feel like I have to work this out before her brother is born in a few weeks.

I don’t know what that means for this blog, though.

I love documenting all of this for myself, but do I really need to be sharing it all with the world? Should all of the energy I’ve been putting into this blog be going into a book specifically for Juliana with all of the stories of her childhood? Should I leave my comfort zone and get my own freaking life?

I struggle because I want to have an amazing relationship with my niece (and soon with my nephew) but I don’t know how that looks if I’m not here taking care of them.

I don’t know what my life looks like without them in it almost every day.

Anyway, things might be changing around here.

I just really needed to write all of that out and see it all put together as opposed to random strings of thought in my mind.

Here’s the calendar page for this month:

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She really liked hats last year!

I hope the rest of November can be a little less heavy.

US: PLEASE VOTE.

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