drive out with the sun in your eyes

2014 tested my patience. That’s the short story.

The long story is, I had to come to terms with the worst parts of pet ownership. The vet costs, the sleep loss, the panic, the confusion, the sudden empty home, the lack of energy.

The mind-numbing, stomachache-inducing, crippling anxiety.

I’ve spent the better part of a year trying to deal with the loss of a critter in my life. It feels irrational to still be so sad. But there’s nothing rational about death — other than it being the logical end of the life cycle, of course.

My cat Bizzi was, somewhat embarrassingly, the light of my life. It seems silly to put that in writing, but she was my first real pet. We had family pets (even when Dad didn’t want them but they’d somehow end up in the house…), and I’ve always grown too attached to animals, but Biz was the apple of my eye from the minute I laid eyes on her. That cat was going to be my little buddy.

It’s gotten easier.

But the quiet is still deafening.

The long story is, I didn’t travel very far. When I did, I got homesick — a rare and unwelcome feeling.

But people back home were getting sick, or having babies, or growing older. And I was missing it.

The long story is, I made plans, and I plodded through the boring steps of wish fulfillment. I saved my $5 here and $5 there. I looked at houses. My god, did I look at houses. And I found one. And I bought it. And I tore it apart and rebuilt it.

And in the process, I tore down some of the fundamentals of who I think I am. (I also discovered that I can be a real pain in the ass when things aren’t going my way.) I settled into my discomfort with commitment, and I fell so in love with the result.

But man, was it hard.

The long story is, 2014 was the year I truly realized that this is where I’m meant to be.

*Title inspired by Band of Horses (again), “Evening Kitchen,” a sad, pretty song about change and destruction and goodbye. In the very literal sense, my kitchen is my favorite part of our new house, especially in the evening when the sun peeks through the window. 

after all my plans melt into the sand

Every day is a blank slate. Not just Jan. 1. Not the first day of every month. Not your first day at a new job or in a new relationship. Every. Single. Day. And every hour, and minute, and second.


We rely on tangible dates to kick-start the goals we fear we’ll never reach. We give deadlines for starting new endeavors so we can end the old ones with a bang. We want a sober January, so we have a mostly drunk December. We want to detox from the Valentine’s candy, so we promise to go no sugar for Lent. It’s a silly cycle based around the idea that planning is actually doing.

I’m guilty of this scheduled goal setting – and I’m even guiltier of failing at those goals. But I’m learning that a little bit every day is better than nothing at all. Putting $5, $50 or even $500 into an untouchable bank account. Cutting up a credit card. Doing 25 pushups a day. Doing even 2 pushups a day. Saying no when I really want to say yes. They’re all teeny tiny steps in the right direction. They all help remove the fear of failure through realistic expectation-setting. 

Don’t view the start of a new year as the only time to begin. If you break your resolution today, don’t give up tomorrow.

* Title inspired by Band of Horses, “Older.”

if adventures will not befall a lady in her village, she must seek them abroad

I did not get enough of Thailand last summer. The people, the scenery, the tropical weather, the kindness, the craziness — it all left me yearning for more. I knew I’d be back some day.

But I had no idea I’d be back just 14 months later. Yes, in a few short days, I’m heading over the Pacific once again. This time though, I’m exploring for three whole weeks with three of my very favorite people. We’ll trek through Chiang Mai to play with elephants. We’ll snorkel and swim in the Gulf of Thailand. We’ll watch our friend say “I do” to his gorgeous new wife on the beaches of Hua Hin. We’ll zig zag around Bangkok, hopefully making more sense of it than I did last year. And — my favorite part — we’ll leave our itinerary wide open to unknown opportunities.

I know I’m lucky. I make traveling a priority, and those closest to me help make it happen. My parents watch my cat, my coworkers cover my assignments, and my friends let me incessantly brag about my time away (although I’m sure they block my obnoxious Facebook posts the entire time I’m gone). In return, I can only thank them a million times a day, hug them when I get home, and convince them to hop on a plane to somewhere totally different. Thailand’s not necessarily new for me, but the experience will be completely different than anything I could possibly expect.

*Title inspired by Jane Austen. Image borrowed from weheartit.

none of what’s become of me was Seattle’s fault

Somewhere along the way, I became a football fan.

I know — it surprised me too.

But here I am, jazzed for a Seahawks PRESEASON game, and I don’t know what to do with myself. In the never-ending list of contradictions that seemed to come with the finality of my 20s, I started enjoying the one sport I actively loathed. (Seriously. My ESPN username was Cari Hates Football.)

It all changed last year when my friends bullied me into joining their fantasy football league. I suddenly had a brand-new procrastination tactic for thesis-writing sessions — and I actually wasn’t terrible at it for someone who autodrafted and checked my lineup once each week. My competitive streak flared up through league trash-talking, and my social calendar filled up with game-day activities. I watched the games willingly, with no liquid encouragement necessary — and I even knew some of the players by name. My joy for the game became a sport in itself as I began to understand the nuances of different plays and positions.

And then this idiot fantasy team manager ended up in second place. And she began plotting her draft strategy for the 2013-2014 season.

The lesson here is that you never know how a person will change, and you never know if you’ll like something until you try it, and maybe you should stop being so stubborn about the issues you see in black and white. Sometimes those issues are in shades of blue and green.

*Title inspired by the “Where’d You Go, Bernadette: A Novel,” a book that has nothing to do with football and everything to do with Seattle.

by the finish line, I am drained

One thing I’ve learned over the years is that my pursuit for perfection goes well past the schoolroom and the office. It’s also ever-present on the playing field, a place where competition is often walk

Unfortunately, my adrenaline pushes me to battle through pain to conquer previous scores. In childhood, it landed me a few broken bones and bruises as I tried to prove girls were better than boys. In adulthood, it’s gifted me twisted ankles, shin splints, knee pain and, most recently, a pulled quad muscle as I tried to prove my willpower was better than my training.

Spoiler alert: It’s not. Our bodies are made to endure the hell we put them through, but jumping headfirst into a fitness routine can be disastrous.

Now, I’m not a doctor (surprise!), but I want my misfortunes to benefit somebody, particularly in regard to that somebody’s health. Whether you’re a crazy (uh, I mean passionate) running freak or a recovering gymaphobe, just remember: Your hips don’t lie. Weak hips and core muscles are murder on a training schedule, and the only solution is to strengthen them as you improve your exercise habits.

I’m lazy about my ab exercises (and I have the adorable beer belly to show it), but I’m also tired of the constant pain. So, as of this month, I’ve prescribed myself to strength training and yoga at least three times a week. Regular icing, stretching and rolling post-workout are now a must, whether I have the time or not. Compression leg sleeves also help with muscle recovery on long runs — plus, they look SUPER cool and fashionable.

It’s only been a few weeks, but my quad healed much faster than I expected. The one thing that would’ve been faster is if I’d avoided it in the first place — but that’s the demoralizing inner monologue that I’m trying to stop. Instead, I’m going to use all these preventative steps as a new outlet for my hyper-self-competitiveness. Because, really, the only area we should aim to perfect is taking care of ourselves in the first place.

*Title inspired by Sea Wolf’s “Middle Distance Runner,” a phrase that exemplifies my preferred running regimen. Short and sweet, but frequent.

everything looks perfect from far away

I work in an industry where I spend a majority of my time advising clients to “just write.” “Get those ideas down on paper.” “All that genius isn’t helping anyone by swirling around in circles inside your head!”

Ignoring the “genius” line, I should really be lecturing myself. As usual, my fear of doing something less than perfect has halted me from doing ANYTHING. I don’t specifically mean my writing pursuits. I’ve been riding the post-grad burnout excuse for six months now, and it’s time to stop letting perfection dictate my actions. I mean, all that worrying about flawlessly executing isn’t helping anyone by swirling around in circles inside my head!

So July’s my month. I’m going to make things happen! I’ve been reading “The Happiness Project,” a book that made its way around the blogosphere several years ago. The memoir follows the author as she embarks on a year filled with improving her life through a variety of simple yet effective changes. I appreciate her emphasis on personal happiness: the things that will make her happy won’t make me happy. We are all special flowers with our own special flowery interests. So, emulating her personal 12 commandments of happiness, I free wrote a set of my own beliefs. Here they are, in their sloppy, absolutely not perfect glory:

1. Be here.
2. Run your own race.
3. Treat others kindly.
4. Make the world better.
5. Look for the sunshine.
6. If you’ve heard it before, it’s a cliche.
7. Wander aimlessly and travel far.
8. Just f*cking do it.
9. Accept your shortcomings and learn to revel in mistakes.
10. Want less.
11. Appreciate the ordinary.
12. Always love harder.

These need work. 1 and 11 sound the same, but they’re not. 2, 3 and 4 are all cliches, making 6 seem inaccurate, but it’s not. The order is not important, but 12 is most important. These commandments are raw with minimal edits, and they highlight my most important values for being truly happy.

And not once does the word “perfection” appear.


* Title inspired by The Postal Service’s “Such Great Heights.”

you’re confident but not really sure

After taking a much-longer-than-intended hiatus, I’m finally making some noise with the obligatory oh-my-god-now-I’m-30 post. (Of course I am. I’m a millenial. Our entire problem-solving process is a mental Thought Catalog article.)

So here I am, entering my fourth decade, wiser and more confident than I was 10 years before. My 20s were a blur of life lessons. I moved and I traveled and then I moved back. I loved and I lost and then I loved again. I went blonde and I went brunette and then I went red. I did all the things I thought I was supposed to. I did a few things I knew I shouldn’t.

And it all turned out OK. Just like my parents said it would. Just like your parents probably said it would.

As I tiptoe back into this blogging thing, here are some thoughts from people more eloquent than me:

You will only be happy when you start to focus on the simple daily experiences that make you happy.”
Don’t forget to wander.”
You live bigger and you love harder.”

* Title inspired by Tom Petty’s “Saving Grace.”