Tag Archives: change

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.


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.



Not-So-Secret Single Behavior

When Sex and the City‘s Carrie moved in with Aidan, she worried about losing the lifestyle she had come to know as a single girl, particularly the little habits and behaviors we only partake in when home alone. She called these “secret single behaviors.”

As I reflected last night on how it was my last night living alone, I was so excited to write a post about my own secret single behaviors that I will miss. I’m sure half a million other female bloggers moving in with their significant others have written the same post, and a quick Google search confirmed this. But as I read the other blogs, I realized something: I don’t really have any!

Don’t get me wrong, I have a home routine and I love solitude and there were probably many things I would have hidden a year ago. But all of my secret behaviors? JB already knows them!

For example, I love zoning out and reading blogs before I go to bed. And when doing this, I get a little, shall we say, feisty if I feel someone is reading over my shoulder. Check! We fought discussed that fight situation and all is good.

Also, I watch a lot of crappy television. He’s learned that there is no amount of self-loathing that will keep me away from shows like Big Brother.

As I consume a jar of olives while writing this post, clearly some “me time” preferences are going to come up. But I don’t think it’s the secret behaviors that are a big deal for me; rather it’s the mixing of routines. When you take these relationship steps in your 30s especially, you are already set in your ways. And despite a perfected whine when I need help, I’m pretty independent. And so is JB. I have no worry that we will transition into this new phase smoothly, but I’m definitely going to have to put on my big girl sharing pants.

Like Carrie, I’m protective of my space and of my alone time. But unlike Carrie, I know a good man when I have one. So in the words of JB when I asked him how he felt about this move actually being here: “Off we go!”

What are some of your secret (that will no longer be secret) single behaviors that you worry about giving up or have had to adjust since co-habitation?

Cleaning, Part 2: The Best Find

I’m sorry readers, but please allow me to take up space in your inbox twice in two days for a very special sharing moment.

I wish I had waited and posted yesterday’s cleaning blog until I had gone through last night’s set of stacks. Because it was last night that I found this gem: the HANDWRITTEN response from Allison Knight (Jordan and Jonathan’s sister) on behalf of New Kids on the Block respectfully declining the invitation to my Bat Mitzvah.

Now tell me, is this not totally something Grace Adler would do? I told you I was the inspiration for her!

But seriously, I remember clearly the day I received this in the mail. I was so excited that a Knight sister actually took the time to write me a note. Obviously, much squealing and screeching ensued.

And this is the fun part about cleaning. Remembering all those great memories, people and moments that have gotten you to where you are now — packing up the first home you bought to move in with the best friend and partner you weren’t sure you would ever find, but are so grateful that you did.

I guess I have the New Kids to thank!

Cleaning, Confronting, Procrastinating

The pressure is on. I’m two weeks away from moving in with JB and I’m determined to start this new chapter of my life with as little clutter as possible. That requires that this packing experience be different from my last few moves. Instead of just taping the drawers and moving furniture, storage bins and cabinets filled with papers and mementos as is, I have to: Actually. Go. Through. Them.


This has been a daunting task. And it’s forced me to confront the area of my condo that makes me worry I will one day be featured on A&E’s Hoarders: The Hall Closet.

In The Hall Closet, I have kept bags, filing cabinets, and other storage contraptions that contain every document, payment confirmation, health benefits summary, etc. that I otherwise didn’t know what to do with, but figured I might need one day. It’s like the bank vault for an identity thief. I knew over the years that I should go through them and purge all of the old and unnecessary paperwork, but I kept procrastinating and then the idea of it just became too overwhelming. And the cycle continued. (Wow, I really do sound like a hoarder, though I promise it’s not that bad.)

The Hall Closet has residents like this bag bill payment organizer:

I have given myself small goals each day, which makes the project more manageable. And with the advent of bulk shredding options (including your local Office Depot where they will shred while you watch), this undertaking has fortunately been far less confounding than I was fearing.

You see, my problem is not an inability to get rid of things. It’s the paralyzing feeling of not knowing where to put something or how to discard of it properly. So I do nothing. And then, when I’m under the gun, I realize it wasn’t actually that difficult of a predicament. So I encourage all of you — confront your Hall Closet or Under The Bathroom Sink or whatever it is that you turn a blind eye to. As always with  moving, I am reminded that it’s so much better to live without the clutter.

And that means digital clutter, too. So to distract myself from going through phone bills from 2006, I have also been cleaning out my DVR.  There are now only three items left that I can’t seem to delete.

The Friends and Will and Grace listings are my favorite episodes from those shows that I captured on reruns. And of course the Lost series finale which I’m not sure I have the mental strength to re-watch, but can’t erase. If you’re curious, the Friends episode is the trivia game about each other the crew plays resulting in the girls losing their apartment to the boys. The W&G one is Grace grieving her break-up with Woody Harrelson’s Nathan character.  It’s when I really started to wonder if the writers spied on me for their Grace inspiration.  As for Lost, it turns out it was purgatory all along! (Just kidding.) ( I think.)

Well, I have a stack of cable bills from three apartments ago that aren’t going to shred themselves, so I should stop procrastinating. I’m sure you’re reading this out of procrastination for something else, so just go do it!

But first, what task do you dread? How do you just make yourself do it? Why don’t I just buy DVDs of my favorite TV shows? (I thought I would ask that question for you.)

New Job, Old Friend

First of all, thank you to everyone for your well-wishes on my new job. I’ve now completed two weeks and I have yet to be fired or promoted, so my strategy for keeping under the radar and letting other people do the dirty work while I unassumingly win it all has paid off.

(Why do I watch so much reality TV in the summer?)

But seriously, it has been an exciting two weeks and I’m starting to shake off the “new kid in town” feelings. Being clueless has also left me pretty exhausted, which explains my lack of blog posts lately. When I have had a free moment online, it’s shamefully spent catching up on the live Casey Anthony trial. I can’t miss game-changing tweets from Nancy Grace like this:

Investigative legal reporting at its best.

Amid all of the new experiences these last two weeks, however, there was one that stood out because it… wasn’t.

From a simple Facebook status update and a friend’s comment, I learned that a once close mutual friend from growing up who I had lost touch with had just moved back to Dallas and started working at the same university. (So that, Facebook haters, is one of the reasons people are on it even though you might “already keep in touch with everyone I want to keep in touch with.” It’s time for a new line!)

Even though we hadn’t spoken in years, I immediately felt like I had a buddy on campus.  We quickly set up a lunch which happened this week. It was wonderful catching up on life: the big — I heard she had gotten married, but it wasn’t until I got in her car and saw the car seat that I discovered she had a child! — and the small.  Had we not both ended up at this employer, I might have never known she was a mother. That seems weird to think about after being so close for so long at such formative times in our lives.

Long ago, this dear friend’s dad coined the phrase “I Don’t Caryn” to denote my indecisiveness fickleness fear of confrontation agreeableness when asked what I wanted to eat or what I wanted to do.  And while certain people would probably argue that I’m overly more confident now in sharing my preferences than I used to be, I’ve thought about this nickname often when I would hear myself say “I don’t care.” It always reminded me of how close I was with this friend and her family. Of course, almost 20 years later, she still had to make the final call of where we ate lunch.

I know I’ll make new friends at this job, but it’s especially nice to reconnect with an old one.

What has been a big (positive) surprise for you at a new job?

Why I Love: Love Actually

I’m a pop culture buff. I have a friend who produces music and he has always said that if I like a song, then it’s probably not very good, but it would sell. And conversely, if I don’t care for it, then it’s likely that it is musically a good song, but the masses won’t appreciate it.  I’m pretty sure this is an insult, but hey, it’s true.

When life is hectic and out of control, my favorite music, movies and TV shows help me zone out and restore some balance. So to honor my love of all things pop, I will periodically write about what I learn from this mainstream media. For my initial post on this topic, and in the spirit of the holiday season, I’ve chosen the movie Love Actually.

I could have chosen a more profound and traditional holiday movie such as It’s a Wonderful Life with its reflective message of family and gratitude and such, but I prefer Hugh Grant as Prime Minister dancing to The Pointer Sisters.  And from the many Facebook status updates from friends referencing the movie, I don’t think I’m alone! What is it about this movie that we all relate to so much that keeps us coming back for more winter after winter? Here are my thoughts:

1.  The beautiful musical score and the delicious British (and Irish — Liam Neeson, purrrrr!) accents. Ok, just wanted to get that one out of the way.

2.  This movie isn’t really all about love, but about the choices we make when it comes to relationships and life. In our search for balance, we all choose where we want to put our weight. The most heartbreaking scene for me is when Laura Linney’s Sarah character finally gets to make out with her longtime crush, her sexy colleague Karl. But she ends it to go see her mentally ill brother in the hospital. I always hope this scene will end differently — please Sarah, he’ll be okay for one night!! YOU ARE MAKING OUT WITH KARL! But she never listens  to me and she makes her choice. We all do the same thing every day and ultimately, we have a lot more control over the things that happen to us than we give ourselves credit (or responsibility) for.

3.  My favorite scene is when the Mark character confesses his love for Keira Knightley’s Juliet at her doorstep with his poster board messages.

It’s not his confession that I find so endearing because I am actually always a little conflicted about it — dude, that’s your best friend’s WIFE! But rather, I love when he’s done and she gives him a little kiss, and he says to himself, “Enough. Enough now.” Awww… closure! I’m not sure closure really exists, but whenever that moment happens where you feel like you are ready to move on (from whatever it was that was holding you back), it sure is nice!

4.  Above all, Love Actually always reminds me that Christmas IS all around us. Just kidding — if you know the movie, that song is now forever in your head. You’re welcome! But seriously, as Colin Firth’s Uncle Jamie character and the Aurelia character remind us, change actually is all around us and can happen very unexpectedly — whether it be love, jobs, loss, etc. This constant inconsistency, for me, is what motivates me and stresses me out all at the same time. All the more reason why I need mindless entertainment to keep me going!

If you’re on the Love Actually bandwagon, what is your favorite scene or lesson from the movie? If not, what is your favorite pop culture escape? Happy Holidays — come on and let it SNOW!