On Owning It

Life is like riding a bike.

Sometimes you have to pedal with all of the might you can muster, making your way inch by terrible inch up that long hill. And other times you can coast down with no resistance beneath your tires and the wind whipping gloriously through your hair.

If I picture life as a person, I see it as a jokester. You know the type; one of those people who thinks that super inappropriate things are really funny and who laughs at funerals. Life never takes itself too seriously. It likes to present a wide variety of situations in many unexpected forms just to make sure you really are on your toes at all times. It has an affinity for showing up in ways you could have never anticipated, will pound its fists on your front door at three in the morning just for a laugh, and it loves to pitch you curve balls to test your willingness and ability to knock them out of the park. Life has a grand ole time making sure that the only thing you can expect for certain is that things will turn out differently than you planned.

Recently, I was asked a pointed question that has kept me thinking.

How do think you react to adversity?

Great question.

I like to think that I take adversity in stride. I’d like to say that I handle all things with as much grace as I can possibly mobilize on short notice. I like to think that I do the best that I can while I keep a smile on my face and my heart full of compassion. I like to think that my experiences have taught me to be a strong and resilient person, capable of triumphing over anything that comes my way. I have overcome a lot, just like each and every one of you, and I intend to keep on doing just that.

But let me tell you that when life throws everything its got at me, one curve ball after another pummeling straight at me without pause, my reaction to adversity isn’t as pretty as I would like it to be. I’ve found that I move into silence rather than speaking my truth and that I falter in my faith rather than being able to turn it all over and trust in His plan for me. My positivitiy tanks.

I doubt myself. I wonder what I am doing wrong. I struggle with feeling wrong-sized and get angry when none of it seems to be working. Am I too sensitive? Am I unapproachable?

I switch tactics. Read more books. Reach out to others for help. I milk my support system for all its worth. Believe me, keeping me strong and centered and sane takes a village.

I am consistently revamping my strategy to figure out what the best fit is. I am constantly re-energizing in order to gain momentum for the next movement, looking to level-up and press forward. This doesn’t work, so let’s change it. That didn’t work, again, so let’s try this instead. Fail. Fail. Try again.

Do you know what all of the negative, uncomfortable and challenging feelings and experiences mean?

They mean that I am human. In progress. Developing. Learning. Achieving. Reaching. Trying.

I’m dealing with people, places and things that are not on my terms and that do not conform to my comfort zone. I’m like Silly Putty in the softening process; the part where you throw it around in your hands to make it pliable enough to mold into something entirely new.

I don’t like to think that I need molding. I don’t like to admit that I have areas I should work on. Who loves to pick themselves apart and acknowledge their faults? No person I know. But the sooner I get over with the pummeling, the faster I become ready to change my form. When I am warmed up and ready for a new shape, it means I am completely willing. It means both my mind and my heart are open to new ideas and new opportunities.

Let’s face it. Sometimes life beats the crap out of us.

We can either let it shatter us, or take it as a not-so-subtle hint from the universe that things are changing. Discomfort and pain are two of the greatest motivators for change, and change is always good.

I repeat. Change is always good.

Change forces us into action. Change improves us. Change intimidates us, seems impossible and then it teaches us that everything will be okay in the end. Always. Change shows us that the unexpected can lead to glorious results. Change terrifies us and then it chides us, whispering that we should have trusted the process the entire time.

So however you react to adversity, own it. Own it in its glorious imperfection and simultaneous badassery. You’re getting your tail licked and still asking for more. You’re waking up each day and focusing on the good. You’re giving it your best shot. Embrace everything and don’t get too caught up in the details. After all, it will work out just as it’s meant to in whatever amount of time it takes.

Own your abilities, inabilities, sensitivities, strengths, shortcomings, and greatness. Own your life.

Here’s to writing your legacy. 



Anything Can Happen


Where were you at this time last year? How different is your life today than it was twelve months ago?

At this time last year, I was working as a server and trying to figure out what direction I wanted my life to take. I hadn’t even begun looking for a job within my field, but I knew one thing for certain- I was unhappy with where I was and I was ready for a change. I was also willing to do anything to make it happen. I had no idea that, one short month later, I would be catapulted directly into my future.

A lot can happen in a year. If you think about it, it rarely requires a whole year for immense change to take place. The speed with which change is brought about is directly related to the focus, determination, and effort you invest into making it happen.

You only need one break, one person to believe in you, one tiny chance, and everything will change. It will change unexpectedly and with bewildering speed. It will happen when you least expect it.

You can’t dictate the timing of change, but you can certainly work for it. The most successful people you know weren’t sitting idly on the couch binge watching Netflix when their big break came along. They put in the hours, made the effort, and took the necessary steps.

Don’t get jealous of others’ success, there is plenty of it to go around. Your time will come. Practice patience, stay in a state of gratitude, and have faith that everything is unfolding with perfect timing.

The universe is on your side, I promise.

A lot can happen in a year. In fact, anything can.



Since When

Since when did asking for help become a sign of weakness, rather than an opportunity to develop a relationship? Since when did asking a question come to represent a lack of knowledge, rather than seizing an opportunity to foster better communication? Since when did reaching out become something you stop and question, rather than embracing the opportunity to learn something new and see another’s perspective?

Everyone has shortcomings. No-one knows everything. Yet, somehow, we are living in a world where we’re embarrassed when we do not have the answers. We are afraid we will look stupid for asking certain questions. We fear we will be judged for lacking the knowledge. We know we will be questioned for not being one hundred percent sure of the answer.

This sounds backwards right? No-one has all the answers and nobody is perfect- not me, not Obama, not even Oprah. We all have flaws. We all make mistakes. The problem is that we don’t want to admit it. We don’t want to appear weak or unprepared. I think the biggest mistake we are making in always worrying about messing up, or trying to go it alone, is that we are not letting ourselves be vulnerable. We try to be the problem-solvers, the fixers, and the I-can-do-it-on-my-own-ers, which creates distance from everyone we come into contact with throughout the day.

This past weekend, I did some damage at Home Goods. This is the part where I must confess that I prefer to outsource certain projects. Like hanging things. So, I asked my neighbor to come over and help me. Could I have done everything on my own? Sure. I know how to operate a drill and a hammer (I am woman, hear me roar!). Easily and in under two hours? Heck no. Instead, I chose to ask for a favor and doing so does not make me weak or dependent. In reaching out and asking for help I was inviting friendship in. I was embracing the opportunity to let someone in to my life rather than declaring that I can do everything alone.

Back in April, I wrote about my struggle with vulnerability. The Vulnerability Project was a declaration of my insecurities, my fears, and my desire to change. I made a promise that I would make a wholehearted effort to open myself up to new experiences and to engage fully in life, come hell or high water. I made a promise to dare greatly.

That is since when I started trying to assume less and to listen more. That is since when I started asking for help rather than sitting alone in my struggles. That is since when I started letting people see the softer sides of me, the pieces that are nowhere near polished or perfect but are completely authentic. Engaging in vulnerability is challenging.- asking questions, initiating conversation and getting outside of what is comfortable. Sometimes I seem less knowledgeable that I am. Sometimes people think I am weak. Sometimes people hurt me. What then? Then I feel the feelings, all of them, and that is the gift that I receive. Each experience teaches me a little bit more about myself and I get a little bit better at being vulnerable. And that, my friends, is progress.

How are you at reaching out, letting others in, and being vulnerable?



ps. Check out my beautiful new pallet art, a custom piece that was designed just for me and is now hanging proudly in the entrance to my bedroom. My dear friend Nick is the artist, and if you love it he is more than happy to create something special just for you :). He accepts orders via email at ncarlsongolf@yahoo.com.



*Top photo via Pinterest

10 Things I’ve Learned from a Year Without Alcohol

Next month marks one full year since I last had a drink. It’s astounding, really, what can change in a year. Everything has changed: who I am, the way I look at life, and who I am becoming. Choosing to live a life without alcohol has been eye opening, challenging, at times soul-wrenching, full of emotional peaks and valleys, and quite possibly the best thing I have ever done for myself.

Here are ten of what I consider to be the most valuable lessons I have learned over the past 341 days:

1.    You accomplish the goals you set.

Over the past year I have been able to achieve and exceed every goal I set for myself. I have embarked on a new career. I completed my first ever juice cleanse. I started this blog and have developed my writing. I have been able to meet my financial goals, and I did this by making some incredibly hard decisions. The most difficult of which was selling my car. This allowed me to get significantly ahead in the long run, but it has been one of the hardest things I have ever done.  Public transportation is no joke, and neither is having to rely on other people for rides. Learning to depend on others has taught me humility and filled me with gratitude. Luckily, in a few months I will have a brand new car all my own! And damn does that feel great.

2. People’s perception of you will change.

This is OK. I became more quiet. More settled. More calm. More sure of myself. Less willing to compete for attention. I found that on the inside I was thinking much more, and much more in-depth, about anything and everything but I often found myself wanting to keep my thoughts and opinions private. I’ve also learned that new people I meet might think I’m a goody two-shoes, which is just fine with me.

3. It’s not boring.

Just because I have stopped drinking doesn’t mean I have stopped having fun. I still love to go out, socialize, and try new things. It has been refreshing to discover just how much fun I can have without alcohol pushing me along. I laugh more, and genuinely enjoy myself more, than I did when I was guzzling down the booze. Appreciating the moment has become easier and more authentic.

4. You learn not to take the easy way out.

Sobriety isn’t easy. It’s not a walk in the park, and it’s not all rainbows and butterflies. Your problems just don’t disappear because you no longer have alcohol in your life. You feel different from your peers, and many times I have struggled with the feeling that I do not fit in anywhere anymore. This makes you stronger. It makes you wiser. It will change things. In the end, it’s worth it.

5. You learn to trust.

You learn to trust yourself, your decisions, your journey and your story. Being able to trust yourself is invaluable.

6. It will affect your dating life.

It will do this in both a good and a difficult way. Dating without liquid lubricant has been something I have had to make an effort at. I’ve had to confront, and try to heal, the trauma I have experienced in past relationships. Removing alcohol from my life has allowed me to deal with my romantic past head-on, when I used to run from it with every atom of my being. This has been incredibly healing and restorative. However, it has made casual dating practically impossible for me and I have simultaneously discovered I am not quite ready for all that comes with a serious relationship. I have learned that temporary situations no longer give me any thrill, and I would rather hold out for the one that is worth my time and heart than fill the in-between with a superficial relationship. I value my independence and alone time.

7. Your friendships will flourish.

The appreciation I have for the friends in my life is indescribable. I have met a few key people over this past year that I know will be my friends for the rest of my life. I have been able to build on my existing friendships. This is one of the greatest gifts I could ever receive. I have learned how to be a better friend by becoming less selfish and less self-seeking, and this has invited wondrous change into my world.

8. You’ll have more energy.

Much of the time, I feel like the Energizer Bunny. I’m more alert, more aware, and more open to what the Universe throws at me. Every day feels like a fresh start. I start my day at 5am, maintain two jobs in a six day work week, try to incorporate an active lifestyle, do my best to weave a healthy amount of self-care into my schedule, and somehow balance this all without my own vehicle to get me places. Lord knows I wouldn’t have been able to do that while drinking. God bless sobriety.

9. It will cultivate your sense of self.

I have learned an incredible amount about myself during this time, and continue to discover new things every day. I am more sure of myself, less critical, more embracing of the present, and full of confidence and hope. In short, I have learned to like me again.

10. You HAVE to embrace the whimsy.

Sometimes I miss the old me. Sometimes I miss the partying, the craziness, and the reckless abandon. I have found it’s important to cultivate my whimsy side fairly regularly to maintain my sanity. I do this by losing myself in music, dancing like nobody is watching in the middle of the dance floor, having deep and heartfelt conversations with complete strangers, and nursing my sweet tooth.

If you would like to know more about my journey or this past year, please email me or post a comment below! I would love to hear you share about your own personal journey and experiences!