Tag Archives: goals

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.


What Is Your Keynote Address?

Over the last couple of months, I have been inspired by some amazing speakers. It wasn’t necessarily their topics that have captivated me, but rather how they engrossed their audience. This has happened mostly in professional settings such as conferences and workshops, but also from a rabbi as part of some religious exploration that JB and I have recently embarked upon (more on that in a future blog — talk about balance!).

Anyway, I want to be like these speakers. I want to capture an audience’s attention and not lose it. I want there to be a topic that I am so informed and comfortable with, while also possessing genuine emotion for, that I don’t need a PowerPoint or an activity to keep listeners engaged. Basically, I started thinking, “For what type of conference or event would I like to be a keynote speaker?” In what would I like to be a “perceived expert?”

One of the speakers who inspired me last month was Marlee Matlin. If you are not familiar with her and don’t want to click on the link, she is an actress who won an Oscar in 1987 for Children of a Lesser God. She’s also deaf and a recovering drug addict.

As the keynote speaker at a workshop for those who work in addictions counseling, Matlin signed her entire speech, while her interpreter spoke her words from the audience. She was so engaging, after about three minutes, I completely forgot that the person I was staring at was not the voice (and a male one at that) I was hearing. I was also trying to not hate her for looking so absolutely incredible in skinny jeans and stilettos after four kids, but mostly it was the speech. Being able to communicate a message like that, much like looking good in skinny jeans, is a gift.

It’s more than just knowledge. Yes, you have to be competent in your subject, but you could tell me you want me to present on the 10 ways that cloud computing will change the world and I could dutifully research the topic and put a presentation together. Maybe even a good one, though doubtful, seeing as I have yet to understand a definition of “the cloud.” I mean, how is it different from a server? Sorry, topic for another day. But I would want my keynote to also be about something I have experienced and lived. Something I truly believe in and would authentically and enthusiastically want to share with others.

I might not ever become a keynote speaker for anything other than something I organize (but of course!), but thinking about it in these terms helps me gain a better grasp of what is important to me and where I would like to focus my professional and personal goals. I haven’t figured it out completely yet, but I have a few ideas. I’ll let you know when you can book me 🙂

Have you ever thought about what event you would like to keynote? What speakers have you seen live who have just captivated you?

No, It’s Not Spam…

It’s just me posting. Every week. For a year. Officially.

I’ve been mulling over if I wanted to take WordPress up on its “Post a Week” challenge for 2011. You can read more about it in this CNN article if you’re interested. In its truest form, it is actually a “Post a Day” challenge, but luckily they have the weekly option for slackers who are easily overwhelmed busy people like myself.

When I started this blog, my goal was to post once a week, and so far, I have been consistent in doing so. But my blogging tenure has only been two months. Two months where I have been off work frequently. Two months where I have been so excited with the novelty of blogging and sharing my thoughts with my close friends and family the world!

It is likely — or rather, 100% certain — that over time, I could get lazy. So this challenge is a way for me to stay accountable. Blogging is very important to me because it has helped me remember how much I love writing, how happy it makes me, and how much I need it in my life (it’s almost as if I should have been a journalism major or something!). This challenge will hopefully make sure I don’t forget all this when, say, a “Top Chef” marathon sounds more appealing than writing.

To help all us bloggers out, WordPress is providing daily prompts for content. Sometimes I will use these, sometimes it will just be my own musings that come from who-knows-where.

Thanks to everyone for your support so far of my little blog — I like all of you even better than I like writing! 🙂

New Year Jitters

I was a little greedy and took an extra day off work this holiday break. My colleagues are back in the trenches today, but I knew that I wouldn’t be ready to come back so I attempted to prolong the inevitable return with an additional day.

I’m not sure it was the best idea.

Sure, I’m finishing up some errands, sitting at a coffee shop working on my blog, and when I’m done, I’m going home to DO NOTHING but catch up on my DVR (something I have yet to do this break). It all sounds perfectly relaxing, no?

But instead, the day has an anxiety cloud hanging over it. I’ve had such a wonderful holiday break, but I feel now like there is a countdown clock in my head to 6 a.m. tomorrow and its “tic-toc” sound is quite loud. Let me be clear, I have a great job that I enjoy and I work with wonderful people — this has nothing to do with job satisfaction and for that, I’m grateful. I think it is just about having a break. The novelty of a lifestyle that is so different from your normal routine. I’m worried that going back to reality will mean the end of these peaceful feelings.

But I have control over this, right? So I’m going to look back (via my less-than-spectacular photography skills) on a few fond memories of the break and how I can maintain these good vibrations when normalcy comes a-knocking tomorrow.

What I was feeling: Warmth and coziness in the picturesque holiday setting of Ohio.

How to keep it going: Well, I’m not doing a snow dance. I prefer to only visit the cold. But spending time with JB’s family was comforting and my own family is all within 10 minutes of where I live. It’s easy to take this proximity for granted. Perhaps a little more time spent with all of them in 2011 is in order.

What I was feeling: I mentioned in an earlier post how I look back on my college days and remember them as the least stressful times of my life. While I received some very honest feedback from that blog leading me to believe that perhaps I have extra-strength rose-colored glasses, when I had the chance on New Year’s Day to cheer on my alma mater in my hometown at the TicketCity Bowl, it was exhilarating to sing the fight song, see the band, and feel the purple pride among the crowd. We didn’t win, but it didn’t matter.

How to keep it going: I guess I could donate to my school. *pondering this* Ok, I’ve thought of something else. The real happiness of this day was the camaraderie among the Wildcat fans — even more so given how outnumbered we were playing a Texas school with 55,000 local alumni as opposed to our 2,000. And I do believe we cheered louder. Consequently, I would like to be a more active member (or at least a member) in the local alumni association this coming year. Being around people with whom you share a common thread — whether it’s a school, a love of movies, or the sick desire to do something crazy like run a marathon — can be a great way for adding some new activities to your routine.

What I was feeling: I’d like to end this look back with pizza. But not just any pizza, Chicago-style Lou Malnati’s pizza, as displayed above by JB and his oven mitt. We (but not so much of me) cooked this up, along with some black-eyed peas for good luck, after the bowl game. Besides feeling satiated in a way only cheese can do, I felt so excited that we had nothing to do but eat this pizza and watch that other team in purple make Texas proud. Falling asleep on the couch at 8:30 p.m. also didn’t hurt.

How to keep it going: Should be pretty simple, if I can only remember that it’s not necessary to schedule something every weekend night.  I feel selfish and guilty when I don’t make plans with friends, like I’m wasting an opportunity to catch up and develop those relationships. But man, that pizza at home tasted GOOD!

I could continue with this stroll, but I can’t believe how long this post has become. Besides, I think I’m ready. The “tic-toc” sound has lowered. The to-do list is completely checked and the Google Reader is empty. My mind should be prepared to enter back into reality.

Or maybe I need just one more day…

Have you taken the plunge and headed back to work? Did you survive? Assuming you did, what’s on deck for 2011?

Time to Start

If you are reading this, it means I actually posted a blog. It also means you’re probably my mom because I can’t believe I would have the nerve to tell anyone else.

I have talked about blogging for a while, but it was not until I received a postcard in the mail of a note I had written to myself about what I wanted to be doing in six months that I felt spurred to action. I can’t remember where I wrote it and I had no recollection of writing it at all when I curiously opened the envelope the day I received it (I’m assuming about six months after writing it). My colleague received one too, so as much as I would like to think it was a mysterious paranormal happening of my subconscious finding a way to reach me by way of lined index card, it was probably just a “live your dream” exercise at a conference.

And it worked. I started to seriously think about this blog, what I wanted to write about and why.

I always knew I wanted to write about balance, but it’s not a blog about simplifying. Simplicity is not really for me. I’ve tried different simplifying strategies (and if you’re looking for a blog that shares some, Zen Habits

The mysterious postcard reminder - transferred to refrigerator immediately.

is probably the best there is), but they don’t work for me because as it turns out, I like things a little complicated and over-scheduled… and frenetic… and neurotic. My moments of zen are nothing more than Daily Show segments and I’m okay with that.

So I strive to find balance without stripping things away. Is it possible? Sometimes. Is it sustainable? I hope so. I’ll be using this blog to talk about the ways I am learning to create this equilibrium in four main areas of my life related to four goals I set for myself last year. I hope I can share some helpful tips along the way, attempt to make you laugh, or at least provide a place for commiseration. The four areas I’ll be focusing on are:

·         Developing and maintaining a healthy romantic relationship
·         Getting serious about being healthy in terms of diet and exercise
·         Strengthening relationships with friends and family by being better at keeping in touch
·         Keeping a work/life balance (I probably won’t write too much on this. It’s covered. And when I write about it, I feel like I’m working.)

The first blog post is titled Time to Start. It’s a song from a Blue Man Group’s performance. I have never seen said performance mind you, but a friend of mine played it for me as I was recovering from a tough break-up. For the blue performers, it is just about starting the concert, but I was a different type of blue and for me, it was a reminder that my time living in (as well as weeping in, obsessing in, being angry in) the past was over and it was time to start moving on. It’s now a little bit of an anthem for me and for anytime I am embarking on a new adventure. I would call this an adventure.

I hope you will come along on the adventure. And don’t worry, I promise not all posts will be this long. If you are actually still reading this, thanks Mom.