Tag Archives: balance

Hello From The Other Side

blog

Hey there. If you are reading this, then I’d like to congratulate you on staying faithful to the same email address for at least the last three years. That’s committment.

And it outlasted my relationship with this little corner of the Internet. I have a new corner, but I’ll get to that in a minute.

This summer I took an online writing course, my most formal attempt at cultivating my writing. One of the assignments was to write the chapters of our lives, past and future. After some eye-rolling, I ended up really enjoying this exercise and the self-reflection it inspired.

Most chapters were about major life transitions, but I titled one “Balance Overload” to mark the couple of years I was blogging regularly. It’s not because this blog changed my life radically or anything like that. But it reconnected me with my love of writing and expression, and that is a pretty huge thing in my world.

And then life — in its beautiful, ephemeral and distracting way — popped up, as it is wont to do. JB and I had just married when I wrote my last post at Balance Overload. And now, almost three years later, I sit here typing in between going in to snuggle a sick 18-month-old little boy, while his twin brother sleeps in the adjacent crib, miraculously undisturbed by his sibling’s cries.

As parenting ushered in my most significant transition yet, I felt my head once again full of ideas and thoughts that I wanted to express externally. But I believed it needed a brand new cyber home. I have often said that parenting is kind of like starting your life over, learning everything from scratch and with a completely new perspective. And while I didn’t want to necessarily write a parenting or “mommy” blog, I felt I needed a new space for these thoughts that are still from Caryn of Balance Overload, but seen through different lenses.

So after a lot of procrastination and stall tactics, I started a new blog called Journey to Napa. As I explain, the name represents my road to retirement (from work, in-the-trenches parenting, etc.). Obviously my retirement of any kind is a long time away (*knock on wood* everyone is healthy and all of those prayers up to the universe). But I wanted to have a broad palette to write about life. I have a few posts up and it’s a little all over the place (a lot seems to be about writing), but I hope to narrow in on topics as I go.

Even if you no longer have any clue who I am or why you ever entered your email address at this site, I want to thank you for following this little blog that fueled me in big ways to nurture my creative side. I have re-read many of my posts these last couple of weeks and I’ve especially enjoyed revisiting the conversations we had in the comments. I would be so honored to continue this dialogue (and learning about any new perspectives you have gained) at my new home.

How To Make Sure You Never Forget How Old You Are

Wow! I remember my WordPress password. So now that I’m here, let’s write a blog, shall we?

People often ask me if working on a college campus keeps me young or makes me feel ancient. I always tell them it’s a little of both.

I work directly with students and sometimes they actually like me. They stop by my office just to say hi, compliment my outfit, or friend me on Facebook. Now and again they might even “like” one of my status updates. And that small click is “fountain of youth” worthy! Feeling young doesn’t mean I’m their best friend. I don’t have the desire or energy to feel 19-years-old again. It’s more like the cool aunt who because I am slightly younger than their parents, I am deemed acceptable to have a conversation with devoid of eye-rolling or texting. It is on these days when I think to myself, “Caryn, you are still hip!” I give myself a little high-five, pop up my collar, blast some T-Swift, and so very quickly, any youthful vibe is erased (but that liked status update lasts FOREVER).

But lately I have just felt old. Like “maybe I should take down my diplomas so they don’t see the year I graduated” old. Thinking back over the years of my career in higher education, I have pinpointed the following reasons why this may happen:

Pop Culture Differences

Every generation has their Beatles, their New Kids on the Block, or their Justin Bieber. And I love talking about who or what was popular “in my day” with students because sometimes they have heard of Nirvana or watch The Cosby Show on Nick at Nite. But everyone now and then, there is a disconnect that will leave you deciding that since you don’t even remember the 2.5 years you spent in the seventies, you will just tell people you were born in 1980.

I’ll never forget discussing the demise of Saturday Night Live with a student a couple of years ago. Generations have been having this conversation for decades, so there is nothing new here. And I felt a commonality with her as she lamented that she missed the “classic” seasons when the show was groundbreaking and funny. I thought, wow, here is a teenager who gets it and understands the legacy of sketch comedy people like Gilda Radner, John Belushi, Eddie Murphy and Dan Akroyd created. And then she added, “like when Will Ferrell was on it.” Okay, we’re done here.

Blank Stares

The Blank Stare is an important signal that you are about to feel like your grandmother. It is not uncommon for one to say something to a college student on any given day that will be met with an expression of concern that you may have just suffered a stroke because the words coming out of your mouth made no sense.

In a few weeks, I am taking a group of students to New York City for a study trip. I couldn’t wait to tell them that I had secured tickets for us to attend a taping of the Late Show with David Letterman! And there was plenty of excitement. But all I could focus on were the couple of Blank Stares in the crowd. “Who is this David Letterman of which you speak”, their faces said to me. Geez, it’s not like I said we were going to Jay Leno. (That would be less cool, right?)

Similarly, a classic story I like to tell is when, as a career counselor, I was explaining to a student the importance of using LinkedIn. I told her it was like an online rolodex. What’s a rolodex, she asked? Enter my own Blank Stare.

Memory

Assuming it has nothing to do with an action item I may has assigned them, the memories of these kids are amazing. They can tell me in detail about their weekend, semester-long study abroad, or four years of high school (and I’m glad they do, I love hearing their stories!). Meanwhile, this morning, I spent a good five minutes in the shower trying to remember if I had already shampooed my hair or not.

Look, I am nowhere near ancient. And I think one reason I enjoy my work so much is because I am youthful and can relate to students, developing relationships with them that allow me to feel like I might actually make this transitional time in their lives just a tad bit easier, more enjoyable, or supported. And if I am being honest with myself, the times when I do feel old, I am really feeling a twinge of jealousy. For the unique friendships they are forming, the new experiences they are having, and the adventures ahead of them.

Luckily, we all have new experiences and adventures awaiting us at every stage of life, and if we can go after them with the same zest and energy that college students tackle theirs, I think we are in good shape.

But first, a nap. I’m exhausted and I think I need to wash my hair again.

Finding Your Inner Font

It’s a Saturday afternoon and I have nothing to do.

As with most people, I don’t experience this total lack of time commitment often. I have already gone to the gym, watched the Olympic gold medal trampoline competition (bouncy!), and written my daily goal of wedding thank-you notes (two, because I need an instant feeling of accomplishment). Although it’s beckoning to me, if I watch our recording of Bachelor Pad before JB gets home from golf, our brief marriage might be in jeopardy. And running errands just doesn’t sound appealing since it’s 212 degrees outside.

So I sit, with no excuses left to avoid confronting my writer’s block of the past months. Since getting married, I had hoped that I could re-focus all of the time and energy that went into wedding planning back to my blog. I have felt so inspired to write, with ideas running through my head at all times and the unfinished drafts of posts to prove it. I kept starting, but quickly lost the motivation to finish, unimpressed with anything I had written and all of it sounding like I was trying too hard to be witty or deep or both.

But after much soul-searching and reflection, in this afternoon of idleness, I think I finally identified what has been holding me back: FONT. SELECTION.

The idea of writing yet another post in Times New Roman was how I imagine an Olympic swimmer feels when they get out of the pool and see reporter Andrea Kremer waiting for them. Please, not you again! And while I can’t upgrade broadcasters, I can upgrade WordPress themes.

You noticed, right? Look again. Yeah, baby! I think we can all agree that the Balance Overload experience has been revolutionized for blogger and reader alike. (I also updated my “About Me” page, which has been another source of discontent for a while.)

You might be thinking that all of this focusing on the aesthetic aspect of my blog is really yet another distraction to evade the deeper question of what do I really want to accomplish with this site? What is my voice and what do I want to say?

And to that, I respond…. look at this new photo collage site I learned about from Leah’s Thoughts! It’s a great distraction enhancement for blogging! And it’s a great to excuse to showcase wedding pictures. I thought it only fair since all of you have followed me on this wedding journey. (Yeah, I know, who am I fooling, it’s totally for my own amusement.)

Wedding photos courtesy of Tim Hord Photography and printed with permission from JB

while he’s napping.

Look, I know I just wrote a whole blog post about changing my font and then gratuitously threw in wedding pictures. And if you read it and thought to yourself “WTH is she doing wasting my time with this crap, some of us actually have things to do this afternoon”, then please know, I appreciate it. It is said when you have writer’s block that you just have to write. About anything. Get the juices flowing again. So this is my attempt. I’m hoping my font change is just a signal of a new start in blogging.

PS: My new upgrade also allows me to change the color scheme of my blog. If my writer’s block continues, things could get all-out crazy.

How do you handle a lack of motivation, whether in writing or anything else?

It’s Time To Get Hitched!

When I first blogged about getting engaged, I promised Balance Overload wouldn’t become a wedding blog. Luckily, we had nothing to worry about since it just ceased being a blog altogether!

But such is life. And regular blog postings or not, the wedding week has arrived! When JB and I got engaged back in July, it was hard to imagine that an actual event (and yes, most importantly, a marriage) would happen at the end of the planning. It seemed so far away. And it was.

At the time of engagement, I had just started my new job. I worried about not finding the community I had at my former employer or making friends. Now it’s wedding time, and last week 14 of my colleagues showed up for a surprise lunch/shower thrown for me and JB. I couldn’t even get words out I was so touched.

A few other updates from wedding planning. First, the exercise. All was going great. My arms even had these things in them that my personal trainer called “muscles.” And then my trainer left for a new opportunity. I was worried this would deter me, but by that time I had learned enough from her to feel comfortable doing the workouts (to a lesser degree no doubt) on my own. I have also become quite the Zumba-holic. When I first started Zumba, I resented the women who knew all the routines. Between hip rolls and shimmy shakes, I told them (silently, in my head) that if I had the time, I could know all the routines too. Losers.

It turns out, I am such a loser! I can barely brush my teeth without busting out some Zumba moves. There are unfortunate consequences of this, such as almost liking Pitbull songs, but in Zumba, I have found a cardio workout that gets me excited to go to the gym. Combined with a day of weights, I am confident in continuing this plan even when there is no wedding dress as an incentive.

Oh, and the contact lenses? Yeah, they aren’t happening. I tried. Sort of. Once. And it was just too much. So I dropped it. I’m going naked on my eyes down the aisle. I will see JB clearly once I’m up there with him and it’s probably better for my nerves to not be able to make out all the faces anyway. Once the reception starts, the glasses will be back on. I might even clean them for the big day! Much like my decision to not fake tan, the glasses, like my pale fair skin, are who I am.

And that brings us to right now. JB assures me that for someone who has a tendency to freak out under stress, I’ve been a relatively calm bride. But this last week has definitely been full of emotion. And despite my claims of not being that stressed, my body has certainly tried to prove me otherwise.

I went to the doctor last week for an ache in my side that has persisted for the last couple of weeks. As the doctor poked around on my belly, he stopped in his tracks and told me to listen. He tapped my stomach and said it sounded like he was beating a drum. And then he called it “impressive.” Blushing, I was getting ready to thank him and tell him that it’s simply a combination of eating right mixed with crunches and some oblique twists when he said, “You are full of gas.” Oh. So I guess you don’t want to hear about the Roman Chair lifts I’ve been doing?

(I also foolishly let them draw blood despite knowing my body’s reaction of bruising to this. Hopefully JB’s family and friends will be thrilled to know he’s found a nice little heroin addict to settle down with).

But overall, it was my body’s way of telling me to chill out. So that’s what I have been trying to do. The ribbons are on the programs, the tables are assigned, and the lists have been checked over and over again. As JB and I said to each other on the way to dinner this weekend, it’s time to enjoy and make every moment of this week count. As everyone reminds us, it will be over in a flash.

I can’t thank all of our friends and family enough for their support this last year. JB and I know the real meaning of this weekend is to start our life together and we’re super excited for that and everything, but in the meantime, LET’S PARTY!!

Wedding Gut

When it comes to my gut, I’ve never really listened to it that closely. I mean, there’s the gut that tells me that even though I ate the equivalent of two entrees at the Indian restaurant (plus naan) I still have room for frozen yogurt. I listen to that one.

But that other gut, the one that deals with instincts over appetite, we don’t really communicate. I’ve never considered myself “intuitive.” Wedding planning has changed that.

I have a lot to be thankful for, including being able to plan a wedding where I can explore options and try to create the day I have always dreamed about, thanks to the generosity of my parents.

But what I have noticed is that my “dream” wedding is, in reality, very different from what I had once thought it would be like.

Take location. “Every hotel ballroom looks the same.” That was a popular refrain of mine during the days/months/years of planning my hypothetical wedding. Once wedding planning became no longer just for the “One Day” Pinterest board, it was time to secure my hip, non-hotel downtown location.

“What do you mean that price doesn’t include linens?” This — and similar variations — became my new refrain. Downtown just wasn’t working. We were *this close* to signing at my dream downtown venue when JB and I went to Ohio to visit his family. As I showed his parents and others the location, it just felt… wrong. It was beautiful and what I had always envisioned, but quite frankly, it was going to be a pain in the ass. Not to mention, in the wallet. I called my parents on my way home from the airport and it turned out they were feeling the same way, though were tying to make it work for my dream and all. I think we all felt like a huge weight had been lifted.

Resigned to looking at hotels, my sister visited one in a Dallas suburb that puts other suburbs to shame with how much of a suburb it is. But it was PERFECT! The date, the price, the ease for our guests, the staff.  The skyline views aren’t there, and honestly, the ballroom is a hotel ballroom, but it has always felt right.

From the very first decision, the tone was set for wedding planning — just about everything I’ve chosen from dress to invitations has been different than what I thought I wanted — and for a new way of thinking. In that one decision, and after 34 years, I think it finally hit me: When you have that nagging feeling (good or bad) and you listen to it, you feel contentment, peace, and confidence with your decisions. When you ignore it, you maintain anxiety and unease. Not very complicated, obviously, but I have spent my whole life basically disregarding it. I have become more attentive to this gut and what it’s telling me at work, with friends, and just life in general (though sometimes still ignoring it because I’m stubborn like that).

And when it comes to wedding planning, I guess it’s the same gut feeling you get when you know you are with the person you want to marry. And in the end, that’s the only gut that really matters.

In what situations do you rely on gut feeling?

Goodbye Letter… To My Condo

Dear Condo,

I’ve heard the expression that the best days of being a boat owner is the day you buy it and the day you sell it. While I have never been a boat proprietor, I imagine it’s one of those sayings that is funny because it’s true.

I wondered if I would feel that way as a homeowner. I surely was excited the day I bought you. I rushed back to work and joyously showed my new keys to all my co-workers. I couldn’t wait to get you some new carpet and update your kitchen appliances. I couldn’t wait to make you my own.

A little over four years later, I showed up today for the “seller” closing appointment and signed you away to a new owner. Though a huge relief and I am beyond grateful for the relatively quick sell, it wasn’t quite the same rush I had the first time.

Although I had already moved out of you, it was comforting to know you were there. Yes, you were there with a mortgage and an electricity bill that I was not particularly sentimental toward, but you also still housed all of the furniture I had lived with since my first post-college apartment.

Remember when I actually used your new kitchen appliances? That one time? We cooked dinner for JB and set the little table that had never been set before. JB was so touched. I told him it was the beginning of me learning to cook.

I haven’t cooked dinner for him since, but you sure provided a great setting for what has turned out to be a once-in-a-lifetime occasion.

Yes, with home ownership comes the handyman (who might just happen to drunk dial you), HVAC repairmen, plumbers, and Home Depot visits. Many Home Depot visits. Until the day I die, I will not understand why there have to be so many options for toilet seats. But you seemed to sense my lack of resourcefulness and gave me very few problems. Thank you for that.

Friends who visited often referred to you as “cozy.” My niece and nephew named you my “little house.” Yes, you were small. But you were the perfect size and place for me to transition to the next stage of my life.

I know the new owner is excited to make you her home. Enjoy getting all dolled up! What an exciting new adventure we both have ahead of us.

XOXO,

Caryn

Macy’s Day Parade and Me

Traditions abound this time of year. Most of these center around time spent with family and friends.

But one of my favorite holiday traditions is one that I keep for myself. Thanksgiving morning, wrapped in blankets (ignoring the high today of 70 degrees), drinking hot chocolate and watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

I don’t know when this tradition started in my adult life or how no one has managed to infiltrate it. I do know JB loves the guilt-free pass to play golf. (Don’t worry, I did invite him to join me in my holiday tradition of watching Love Actually, I’m not a monster!)

But back to the parade. As if Matt Lauer doesn’t have the most amazing job already (in addition to “Where in the World is Matt Lauer?”, just yesterday he had the privilege of interviewing this couple for absolutely no good newsworthy reason), he guides us through the three hours of parade coverage with Al and the current female co-hosting The Today Show.

Some people think you can just tune in at the second hour, when the parade floats have made their way to 34th Street. But for me, the first hour has some of the best action — the Broadway performances!

A great lead-in for the high school drill teams (miss you!), marching bands, and floats that will soon take over the TV screen — starting of course with Tom Turkey and ending with the much-anticipated arrival of Santa Claus.

Sure, there is a lot of NBC self-promotion and horrible lip-syncing. And it appears that the producers drink a vat of adult eggnog (which I will soon be imbibing!) and then assign the performers to their spot on the parade. Avril Lavigne on the Cooking Channel float? Um, okay!

But it is all part of the parade experience. As is crying during the St. Jude commercials and its meaningful tagline delivered every year by Marlo Thomas: “Give thanks for the healthy kids in your life, and give to those who are not.”

This solo tradition comes at a reflective time for me as I am just days away from turning over the keys to my condo — selling my home of four years that was a symbol of my independence. Combining traditions is truly wonderful and I’m so excited to do so with JB and his family, but I think having a few of your own is just as important.

One day I will, hopefully, share this tradition. I can picture myself sitting on the couch, wrapped in blankets, and sipping hot chocolate with a little baby on my lap. Sure, as Baby grows up, we’ll have to deal with questions about Santa and why he doesn’t visit our house and how that isn’t it fair and that Baby wishes he could live with Baby’s friends who have Christmas trees because they are more fun and Baby hates me for ruining his/her life.

On second thought, maybe Baby can go to the golf course with daddy. This tradition is mine.

Happy Thanksgiving! May we be thankful today and every day for the blessings in our lives.

Do you have a tradition that is all your’s? What is your favorite Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade float?