Tag Archives: blogging

Hello From The Other Side


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.


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?

Get Smashed

With cake of course.

Balance Overload is celebrating its first birthday!

While I have been a pretty neglectful mother over the past couple of months, I couldn’t let this milestone go unnoticed. On November 17, 2010, I wrote my first post and told five people. It would be another month before I would reveal to the masses (Facebook) that I had started a blog.

It took awhile to get comfortable with the fact that I was writing about myself, my life, my thoughts and reflections, and it was out there for the world to see. But mostly I was worried. Worried that friends and “friends” (Facebook) would think I was vain. “Why does she think anyone cares that much about her mundane life that we would want to take a break from writing status updates about our mundane life to read it?,” they thought in my imagination.

I still worry about that. I still wonder sometimes what am I actually writing about and why do I think anyone cares? Moving forward, I plan to really evaluate little Balance Overload and try to determine the direction I want to take it. I thought this would happen naturally as I started writing, but honestly, I am still not sure. I feel I want more focus. I feel I want to give more to those who read it, so it’s not just a story about my life, but that I offer something readers can take away. Food and recipes are out — but surely there is something else, right? It might be a whole new blog. Who knows?

There is a quote I snagged from a blog awhile ago that said: “Think of something valuable and share it with the world.” I wrote it down on a Post-it note and it’s in my office. I’m still trying to think of my something valuable.

But let us not forget that this is a party! Blogging this last year has been such a wonderful experience. I reunited with my first love of writing and I feel I connected with some of my friends in a different way. I even made new blogger friends for who I am so grateful for every time I read one of their posts or they comment on one of mine. I can’t thank you enough. There are some amazing writers and creatives out there who have so many valuable things to share — I’m blown away.

Thanks to everyone for all of your support and encouragement of my little hobby! And you are such gracious guests, I know you won’t even mention that I clearly messed up and thought the anniversary was today and didn’t realize it was actually yesterday until I linked to my first post. I hope this is not an indication of what I will be like as a real mother one day.

Have a great weekend and a very Happy Thanksgiving!

It’s So Hard To Say Goodbye (And My Guest Post!)

In my job as a career counselor, I (along with other bloggers) often link the job search and networking to dating. College students can understand this analogy.

And just like networking is similar to courting,  leaving a job is a lot like a break-up. I recently gave notice at my current university after five great years. This is the first time I have changed jobs for no other reason than a new opportunity. The two previous resignations were expected — I was moving cities and I was starting a brand new career path.

This move is the same career field, just a different type of position at a new university. My colleagues and supervisors have been so supportive of this opportunity, for which I am eternally grateful. And like any nervous dumper fumbling for the right thing to say when announcing their goodbye, I heard myself resorting to a variation of some of the classics:

  • I wasn’t actively looking for this to happen. It just did.
  • It’s not anything you did, it’s me.
  • This just feels like the best thing for me at this time.
  • You’ll find someone else.
  • I hope we can keep in touch and stay friends.

Unlike a break-up conversation, however, I meant every one of these things — no one more than staying in touch. Leaving my work family is the toughest part about all of this.

I’m going to write more about this transition in the coming weeks, but in the meantime, check out my guest post at Balance in Me about finding and keeping balance in times of change. I was excited for the chance to one again contribute to this site and share with a new community of readers.

What are some of your favorite cliché break-up lines? Does this translate to work situations?

Lost in the Brackets (and my guest post!)

The suffix “-ology” is commonly meant to denote the “study of” or “science of.” Archaeology, psychology, geology, etc. Of course, it’s a national pastime to butcher our language (I do it too, that’s not literary snobbishness) so we like to add that suffix to words that are not very scientific, like mixology or of course, the buzzword for the next two weeks, bracketology.

I’ve never been a March Madness kind of gal, not like this girl. I did enter an office brackets pool once. I picked completely at random as many people do and if I had to guess, probably had Duke going all the way. But the second you make something a science, I’m out.

However, I was a little curious to see how my life and decision-making process played out in brackets. Below, please see my Morning bracket.

Checking my phone has really had a Cinderella kind of year this season. And of course, representing what I did tonight, the Evening bracket.

And this explains why, though exhausted, I am writing and posting my new blog entry at midnight. But spending time with the girls is an easy decision. On normal nights, that bracket might read “Catch up on DVR” instead. When that goes up against checking email and Facebook, it’s anybody’s game. If I put all my time and decisions into brackets, I think I could really see where I get off track in terms of productivity!

While we’re on the topic, March Madness is a perfect time to talk about individual hobbies and interests and how they can strengthen relationships. As it turns out, I wrote about this very topic in my first guest post for the Balance in Me blog I mentioned in my last post! I am excited to be contributing to a great blog. I hope you enjoy it!

Here’s your turn to brag — where are you in your office pool? Have you flunked bracketology?

Balance in Me Contributor Blogger

Hello readers! This is a quick post, but I just wanted to let you know that I have been given the opportunity to contribute to a great blog, Balance in Me. Here I will be able to share my individual strategy for finding balance in different areas in life while building community with other writers and readers doing the same thing.

The author introduced the guest bloggers today in her post “7 Awesome Strategies to Live a Balanced Life” so check it out when you have a chance! My first post should run early next week.

Thanks for your support!

Do You Wordle?

Well folks, it’s Snow Day #4. North Texas continues to be shut down due to ice and now the almost 6 inches of snow we got overnight.

Obligatory snow photo! Obligatory snow photo!

Not too much has changed since my last post about the weather, except perhaps my attitude. And JB and I did venture out Wednesday night for some enchiladas and human interaction. I also figured out why it’s so easy for soap operas to catch you up in 10 minutes. Today I was exposed to All My Children once again (it’s the same channel of the local news I prefer, stop judging). Most of the characters are still in the same clothes as the Tuesday episode except for the one woman who was getting a massage on Tuesday and is now hooked up to tubes in a hospital bed. Bummer. But it’s not too difficult to update a viewer who hasn’t watched in 15 years because in Pine Valley, only one week has passed! Genius!

Anyway, I decided to use this time to put some blog entries into Wordle. On this wonderful and addicting site, you submit text and an image is generated (that you can then customize) showing you the most frequently used words in the copy. I put in some recent posts and here is the Wordle (this is as big as I could get it, you can click on it to enlarge).

Wordle: Blog

Clearly, in the last several entries I have written a lot about “days.” But what really stood out to me was that “perfect” was used so often and, um, where is the word “balance”?? Isn’t that the topic upon which I created my blog in the first place? Isn’t that what I am trying to achieve?

It’s easy to lose track of goals and of a blog theme. I’m going to try to get back on point for both.

So throw some text into Wordle. If you enjoy writing, I think it’s great for seeing all those little words we use so often but shouldn’t – like “really” and “very.” And even if you don’t, let’s face it, if there is a Snow Day #5, you won’t have anything better to do.

Stay cozy!