Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end

After talking about it since May of last year, it has finally happened.

Ok. So that is a lie. I’ve actually been telling people that I wanted to live somewhere other than Chicago ever since I returned from living abroad in ’06. I used to joke that I’d live in Austin or Boston because well, it rhymed and I am corny like that, and also because I heard they were fun cities to live in. I love Chicago, it is such a wonderful, beautiful and friendly city. It is my home. I grew up there. A part of me will always belong in Chicago. I don’t think I’ll ever fully leave; it is likely that I’ll be back someday. But I’ve always felt this strong draw to get out, to experience living elsewhere and to challenge myself to live outside of my comfort zone. I need a change. I love growing and experiencing new things and staying in one place my whole life limits that.

So last year when everything changed and I started to reevaluate my life, I recognized that I wasn’t truly being the most authentic version of myself. While I am extremely grateful for my friends in Chicago who have come into my life recently, I still felt something was missing. I realized I was a dreamer and a talker but not really doing anything about said dreams. As part of The Year of CarynI immediately began to take action towards putting my plans in motion for figuring out what I needed to do to make myself truly happy. 2012 was the start of doing things now and just because it is 2013, a new year, that doesn’t mean the momentum from 2012 has to stop.

After I visited DC for the second time last year, a friend said, “You should just move here” and with that it hit me that there is no better time than now to fulfill that dream. This is the perfect time in my life to pick up and move to a new city. I don’t have a boyfriend or a husband or any children, and I don’t even have a full-time job for that matter right now. If there was ever a time to have a new beginning, this was it.

People ask why DC? The truth is I have friends here so that made the decision easier, but it was honestly just a gut feeling. So far my gut hasn’t steered me wrong and has led me to great adventures and tremendous growth. When I visited over New Years, I almost signed with two other apartments, but for reasons here and there I had reservations. I nearly gave up but then on whim I skyped with these two girls and that was it. Again, in my gut I instantly knew they were the right choice. I quickly signed the lease and had 13 days to sell all my furniture, sublet my apartment and pack everything up. The last two weeks have been a complete whirlwind. People say moving is super stressful but because I know in my heart that this is where I’m supposed to be now, I was calm and not stressed.

Turns out my life fit into only 16 boxes. What wasn’t sold or donated (which was an embarrassingly large amount of clothing and chotchkes) was brought back to my parent’s place. I decided to ship everything instead of renting a truck and driving it out myself. They came and got my boxes and it felt like you move for free without the hassle of the heavy lifting or the stress of driving it out there yourself. Plus, it was all trackable and insured.

boxes

My apartment was perfect; I’ll miss living on my own in such an affordable spacious place. Closing the door to my apartment was harder than I expected. It was truly symbolic of that chapter in my life coming to an end. I had managed to collect gift certificates to various local places and enough booze to last me a lifetime so it gave me great pleasure to share it with friends instead of throwing it out (once opened, you can’t ship it). I am grateful that I got to say goodbye to so many friends over dinner while also spending two days with my parents before leaving town.

Fast forward to Friday, February 1st. Timing couldn’t have worked out any better, even if I tried. I was able to hug and say goodbye to my parents at the airport gate because their flight (they left for a cruise the same day) was to leave only 10 minutes after mine. I was reminded just how much more personal and emotional it is to say goodbye at the gate like we commonly used to do pre-9/11, rather than being rushed away by curbside security. Looking after them as they walked toward their gate was very emotional. I was excited about this new adventure but saying goodbye not knowing when I will see my parents, my puppy, and friends again was difficult. It was horribly bittersweet. When I studied abroad or went to Tanzania, there was always a known return date in the near future. I know that I am only a 90-minute flight, a call or even FaceTime away, but this time I have no idea when or if I’ll return to Chicago. I’ve never lived (permanently) away from Chicago and am used to going home when I want. It will be hard to not be able to go home for the weekend on a whim, at least without having to buy a plane ticket first. I am blessed to have such a close, loving and supportive relationship with my parents and that makes it harder than all other goodbyes.

Whenever I go away for a big trip like studying abroad in Italy, volunteering in Africa, or even going away to over night camp as a kid, my mom always wrote a letter for me to read on the plane and this was no exception. After our hugs and tears and goodbyes at the gate, they sat on their plane and I on mine, at the same airport, texting in a group chat. It was utterly adorable and made me smile through my tears. I was totally that crazy girl on the plane with tears streaming down her face for no apparent reason.

As I was walking off the plane, feeling oddly stuck between two worlds, my new apartment building called to tell me all 16 of my packages had arrived a day early. It seemed to snap things back to reality and things were already off to a good start. I immediately began unpacking and making this place my new home.

I know that I am just beginning my new adventure and that I chose and needed this change in my life. Everything in the past year has led up to this. Although my family is extremely important to me and I will miss them tremendously, I am excited to begin this new journey and to be closer to so many wonderful friends.

I am proud of myself for taking an active role in making my dreams a reality. I am proud that I didn’t procrastinate this move. I know this is only the beginning and that it isn’t going to be easy at first. There will be a lot of adjustments and change and it will come with a large amount of challenges, struggles and compromises. I will need to be patient and open to new experiences. The thing about change is that it forces you outside of your comfort zone and disguises itself as something painful and uncomfortable. But once you accept it, you forget you were ever worried in the first place. It becomes the norm. You just have to trust the change.

As I was saying my goodbyes, I couldn’t help but get the lyrics to Semisonic’s Closing Time stuck in my head, “Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.This is my new beginning. Now it is time for me to embrace the change and challenges that may come and just enjoy this new adventure.

After talking about it for so many years, it has finally happened.

Source: gitamba.com via Caryn on Pinterest

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.*This post was supported by UMoveFree. All comments are my own.*

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2012 in review. Year of Caryn complete.

Happy New Year, readers! Hope your year is off to a good start. How has another year passed already? Can someone please tell me because I am in disbelief that it has been a year (as of Jan 2) since I made that life changing decision that completely changed my life. It is true, time never stops and looking back, it really does help heal the wounds. It was a very difficult year emotionally but I refused to let misery encompass my life. So instead of wasting my days moping, I decided to learn about myself and made 2012 into the year that I began to find Caryn. I wanted to discover whom I was, what made me happy. I wanted to pursue dreams that I had let fall away and I wanted to become the most authentic version of myself. I did a lot of reflection and soul-searching and I took a deep look at who I had become and who I wanted to be and finally stopped dreaming and started doing. I had deemed 2012 The Year of Caryn and that it was. I find it bittersweet that it is over because I learned, grew and accomplished so much. I am kind of sad to let “my” year go. I know every year can be The Year of Caryn but it isn’t the same. And plus that’s just The Life of Caryn then.

Looking back, I am proud of 2012. It started off to be heart-wrenchingly painful where I was at rock bottom but I turned it around. It could have been just another miserable year but I made it into a year about self-exploration, independence, actualizing dreams, amazing adventures in Africa, volunteering, four (!) visits to DC, finding happiness and myself, winning things, and growth, learning, giving to others and being grateful.

January

Emotional. Tears. Swollen eyes. Heart-wrenching pain. Breakups. Saying goodbye. Losing a best friend. Mom’s 60th. Seeing an Intuitive. Receiving justification. Light-bulb moments. Dark days. iPhone acquired. Celebrated birthday. Realizing the fake vs. true friends. Depression. Crying in a public bar. Visits from supportive & amazing friends (from across the country.) Family support. Soul-searching. BiSC registration. Costa cruise crash & sinking.

February

Set personal goals. Self-reflection. Registered for volunteering in Tanzania. Girl sleepovers. Apartment hunting. RM work test. Date with Dad to see American Idiot. Emotional battles. Misery. Optimistic. Ugly tears. No appetite. Girls night out. Out of town friend visits. Signed a new lease. MIA Valentines Day. First Kitchen Aid! Scary Warm weather in 40’s! Whitney Houston’s death. Deadly tornado in Illinois.

March

30 Day Shred. Deadly tornado in Alabama. MRI results show new lesion on liver. Launch of ChiTownTweetup. Countdown to BiSC & Africa. Travel shots.

April

Acting like a teen again by gabbing on a call for 3 hours. New work team. Spontaneous trip to DC on a one day notice. Surprising friends for goodbye parties. 30 day shred. First official CTTU event at Blue Line Lounge. Planning. Creating. Dreaming. Tears. Dinners with friends. Botched haircut. Botched haircut fixed. Consulting call. New friends. Blog post causes tension. First blog post payment earned. Announced Africa to world. Shopping for Mad Men. Brunch with BiSC Chicago friends. Countdowns. Conflicting emotions. Dick Clark died.

May

Planning. Surprise visit a graduation. DC visit #2. Second CTTU event at Kirkwood. Book Africa flight. No more dreams, now reality. BiSC. Reunite with good friends. Freedom. Guard down. Wedding in Houston. Internal struggles about returning. ALL the emotions. Exiled from hotel room. Sister’s engagement party. Vegas. Abraham Lincoln hoax. Stolen stripper vodka. Soul-searching. Attempts at self-discovery. Spreading positivity and happiness. Lessons learned. Dancing on tabletops. In public. In bars. Letting go. Hit goal weight. Blueberry Stoli’s. Phone dates. Skype dates. Winning the Amazon Kindle Fire. Strip Clubs. Mad Men Party. Zumanity. Get ripped in 30.

June

Month of lots of skype dates and phone dates with friends. Applied for Visa. Attend invite-only Twitter party. Stacy’s Bridal shower. Brunch. Train to visit Mandi. Social media day. Assist in friend’s proposal. 4-way air-hockey. Planning. Stress. ANXIETY. Mom’s graduation. CTTU Sunday Funday at Brunch. Won free BiSC trip while skyping. Positive attitude. Personal Growth. Realizing more dreams and desires. Weight gain begins for no apparent reason.

July

Told my blog gave perspective to woman whose son moved away. Bought Tweetup for Change domain. Creativity. Founder. Entrepreneur. Risks. Charity. Philanthropy. Fireworks. Phone Dates. Skype Dates (Stacey). Almost record-breaking hot weather 100’s. Crazy humidity. Sox game for Dad’s Birthday. Fireworks at The Cell. Bridesmaid for the first time. Conflicting emotions. ANXIETY. Pepperoni chin breakouts. See Ex for the first time. In a wedding together. Extreme awkwardness. All the emotions: tears, pain, happiness. Fever and zits from anxiety. Rivers of tears. Missing him. Longing. Opened wounds. Talking causes crying. Saying goodbye all over again. Heartache and heart-break. Visits to Botanical Gardens to find calmness. Wedding dress decision time. In Aurora, Colorado movie theatre massacre. Bridesmaid chooses to be ex’s friend over me. Lose a friend. Uncomfortable. Lies. DC visit #3. Roadtrips with Maxie to Richmond. Cake Pops. Chocolate food fights. Laughter. Drool-worthy brunch. Bacon Bloody Mary’s. Sister’s Bridal shower. Dad’s 61st. Last minute visitors. Pre-work breakfast bonding. Olympics in London. Wacky opening ceremony. Biased USA reporting. Michael Phelps makes history. USA women’s gymnastics wins gold. Realizations that I’m not ready for friendship, despite wanting to be. Begin couch to 5K. SMC Social events. More shots. Africa preparations.

AUGUST

Concerts for Mothers Day. Seeing J.LO & Enrique. Great entertainers. Photo class. Accomplishing goals. Laid off. Blessings (not) in disguise. TUFC’s Dip Your Beak for Change at Drinkingbird. Won amazing headphones. Found out he’s dating. Elephant chest steps. Motivation to be ready to date. Shopping and preparing for Africa. Bachelorette planning. Neil Armstrong died.Sears Tower Skydeck glass city views. Deep dish pizza and cookie pies. Cupcakes from ATMs. Belly-ache laughs. Being local tourists and playing tour guide. All the walking.

SEPTEMBER

Horrible skin. Stress trumps a positive attitude. Flu. Sickness. Aches. Stacy’s Bachelorette. Last day of work. Job hunting. Loneliness. Lady-friend cycle late. Excited for Africa. Final shots. Filed for unemployment. Pressure to limit trip length. Standing ground. London Layover. Kensington Palace. Long flights. Disconnected from technology. Independence. Appreciation. Learning Swahili. Safari. 20 year-old dreams come true. Teaching kids. Lots of hugs & smiles. Kids shouting Teacha! Teacha! Pictcha! Pictcha! Personal exploration.

OCTOBER

Zanzibar. Palm trees. Poverty. White sand. Aqua water. Snorkeling. Relax. Actual vacation. Pools. Slave trade tours. Flights. Rewards. Love. Friendliness. Gratitude. Lesson plans. Photos. Kids singing to me. Teaching. Hugs. Waterfalls. Day trips. Coffee plantation. 1st Peanut butter sandwiches. Art projects. New cultures. Goodbyes. Tears. Climb Kilimanjaro. Tents. Boulders and rocks. Climbing legitimate rock walls. Personal goals accomplished. Survival. Hiking 7 hours a day. 13 hours to Summit. Accomplishment. Proud.  Mental power. Stunning sunrises. Who needs to breathe? Camping. Tents. Behind-the-Rock Potties. Layers of clothes. I CAN DO THIS. Wet wipe showers. Sleeping bags. Hot Tea. Guide crush on me. Climb mountain same day as my wedding. Tornadoes on wedding day at home. All the emotions of that day. Realization that I like traveling internationally alone. 22+ hour flights. Peace. Content. Calmness. In my element. Tranquil. Return home to enormous stress. Anxiety. Daydreams of returning to Moshi. Coughing. Cat-scans. Lance Armstrong stripped from awards. Parents proud of all my accomplishments. Give up eating meat that is GMO. Superstorm Sandy. Man jumps from space 

NOVEMBER

Culture shock. Anxiety. Depression. Weight gain. Workouts. Sister’s beautiful wedding. Mixed emotions. Tears. Love. Baking. Sign up for online dating. Finally ready. Thanksgiving. Share gratefulness. Gratitude. President Obama re-elected. Best re-election speech. Relieved. Grateful to be able to vote. Grateful lady bits are safe. Revisit orthodontist. Retainer. Again. Job hunting. Moving on. Missing past. Dates. Stress. Baking. Just Dance party. Begin running.

DECEMBER

Birthday. Visit DC & Richmond #4. Apartment hunting in DC. Road trip with Maxie. Donated my birthday to charity:Water. THE WORLD IS ENDING! Anti-climatic-false-Apocolypse. Her lack of perspective. Pain. Helpless. Frustration. Stress. Begin Eating Clean lifestyle. New Years with good friends.  Cards for Humanity. Sabers. Champagne.

Other things that were big this year:

Obama‘s endorsement of gay marriage! Honey Boo Boo. THIS NEEDS TO STOP NOW.Gangam Style. One Direction. Some Nights & We are Young by Fun. Death of Trayvon Martin. “Legitimized rape”. Chick-Fil-A controversy over gay marriage. The Hunger Games. 50 Shades of Grey. Facebook IPO bombs. Clint Eastwood argued with a chair. Hostess files for Bankruptcy – end of (fresh) Twinkies. NFL replacement refs.

Any other big things from 2012 that I forgot?

Here’s to 2013 & another year of growth and new adventures!

Happy 2013

 

* EDITED to include forgotten events.

Cast Your Own Patronus. Smile. Choose To Be Happy

Choose Happiness

I know I’m not going out on a limb here when I say moods are contagious. It’s pretty obvious, right?  We’ve all been there. One minute you are all full of smiles when suddenly, you sense the Dementor’s presence upon you and all your joy comes to an abrupt halt, thanks to your friend, Mr. CrabbyPants. Just because he is grumpy, doesn’t mean you have to be. While a foul mood is contagious, a good mood is too. Which do you want to spread?

If moods are contagious and have a domino effect on others, can you imagine what this world be like if everyone looked on the positive side of things, smiled more often, and complained less? Look at the people around you. How many people look to be truly happy? People are always frowning, dwelling on the negative and finding something to complain about.

While it is perfectly normal to have blue moments occasionally, and I certainly do not expect you to be happy 100% of the time, constantly being a Debbie Downer, incessantly being a grouch, and endlessly complaining and scouring at people is NOT an attractive look. On anyone. When you are feeling down, you give off an unwelcoming, don’t-come-near-me vibe. When you smile, your whole body smiles. Facial expressions do not just express one’s mood, they contribute to one’s overall feeling. Smiling elevates your mood and makes you feel happier. You are constantly giving off an energy and what energy you choose to share is entirely up to you. When you choose to be happy, when you put that positive vibe into the universe, positive things happen in return.

So whatever it is that you are complaining about today, stop it. Think about what it is and why it is bothering you. Ask yourself,  is this really a serious problem? Is this a battle I really want to fight? Is this worth the stress it is causing me now? Probably not. Instead, think about what you can learn from the situation and what you can be grateful for. There is much to be happy about and thankful for in this world, so dwell on that. Find the positive in the situation. Yes, sometimes it is hard to find, but it is there. Something positive can be drawn out of every situation, even the darkest ones. Being happy doesn’t mean you are ignoring the issue. It means you are electing to see past the imperfections and make the most out of the situation at hand.

I’m a firm believer that you make your own happiness.

If you want to be happy, then do. You have the power to choose how you feel and only you are stopping yourself. You don’t need anything or anyone else to make you happy. Being happy is a conscious choice, but luckily, it is no ones choice but your own. While you cannot control what happens in life, you can control how you react to it and how you let it affect your mood. The only true control you have in life, is the control you have over yourself.

Make a habit out of smiling more often and finding the positive in situations, and it will eventually come natural to you. It is a self-fullfilling prophecy. The path will continue to become clearer, until one day, you will no longer have to think about being happy, you will just BE. As the Dalai Lama tweeted, “Through constant training we can enhance our positive attitudes and thoughts and reduce their opposing negative attitudes.”

We are always told that things will get better in the future, that we’ll be happy when we get graduate, when we get that job, when we get a boyfriend/girlfriend, we get married, when we have children, etc. We are always chasing the future. But spoiler alert – we’ll never catch up to it, that’s why it is called The Future. So stop chasing. Don’t wait for tomorrow to be happy. Be happy today.

Every day you have a choice. You can choose to look at the negative side of things or you can choose to be happy. Life is short and unpredictableDo not wait for happiness to find you or let others dictate your mood. Cast your own Patronus. Make your own happiness. Choose to be happy. Smile.

Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier. – Mother Teresa
 

The Dash

I came across this poem this weekend and want to share it with you. It really hit home with me about how I strive to live my life.

I read of a man who stood to speak
At the funeral of a friend.
He referred to the dates on her tombstone
From the beginning..to the end.
He noted that first came her date of birth
And spoke the following date with tears, 1964-1994
But he said what mattered most of all
Was the dash between those years.

For that dash represents all the time
That she spent alive on earth.
And now only those who loved her
Know what that little line is worth.
For it matters not, how much we own;
The cars…the house…the cash,
What matters is how we live and love
And how we spend our dash.

So think about this long and hard.
Are there things you’d like to change?
For you never know how much time is left,
That can still be rearranged.
If we could just slow down enough
To consider what’s true and real,
And always try to understand
The way other people feel.

And be less quick to anger,
And show appreciation more
And love the people in our lives
Like we’ve never loved before.
If we treat each other with respect,
And more often wear a smile.
Remembering that this special dash
Might only last a little while.

So, when your eulogy’s being read
With your life’s actions to rehash,
Would you be proud of the things they say
About how you spent your dash?

A poem by Linda Ellis

Life is unpredictable. In the end, the petty bullshit drama and the material possessions do not matter. It is the love you share and how you treat people (animals and all beings too) that matters. I want to live my dash as a positive soul who enriches, impacts, and brightens the lives of others. I want to bring smiles to the faces of others. I want to experience everything possible, all the magnificent wonders and cultures in this world. I want to follow my dreams and make the most out of my time here. I want to have no regrets. I want to focus on the important things in life and remember to stop and smile. I want to give back often. I want to help preserve this world, its beauty, its mere existence, for our grandchildren’s children. I want to do my part in protecting the animals from extinction. I want to always appreciate and be grateful for all the beauty in the world. You only get one Dash; I want to spend my Dash experiencing, living, giving and loving.

How are you spending your Dash?

On Saturn Return, Soul Searching and Personal Growth

It wasn’t until I had a conversation with my sister about potential new names for my blog that I learned about the astrological occurrence called Saturn Return. It was then that a light bulb went off and I felt as if everything made sense. While I am not a devout believer in astrology, I do think they are on to something here. Things are aligning just too perfect to ignore.

So what exactly is Saturn Return?

In short, astrologists believe in something called “The Saturn Return”, a period of intense and often turbulent soul-searching that starts around age 27 and continues until the early 30s. It is when the planet Saturn has completed its orbit around the sun and returns to the place it was when you were born – your Saturn Return. This cycle can take up to 29.5 years to complete and can begin as early as age 27. According to astrologists, true adulthood begins at age 29 and not at 21 as we are led to believe. It is said that the 27th year is an intense one, one full of soul-searching, self-reflection, self-discovery and personal growth. It’s a time of endings and new beginnings.

This is the time in your life when you reflect on who you were, re-evaluate who you are, and explore who you desire to become. This process of introspection and self-realization is important in order to grow and reach your full potential. The Saturn Returns every 29 years so these are times of great change and opportunity. They can also be times of crisis. This is when we come into our Self and align with our life’s true path.

It is common for people to make significant career, personal or relationship changes during this time. We’ve all seen people who rushed to get married, or pregnant, or divorced, or change careers, all before they turned 30, only to then stop and question if those were actually the right choices. Is it Saturn Return or are people just impulsive in their early 20’s and have grown up by 30?

After all that has happened for me this year, this Saturn Return cycle really struck a chord and resonated with me. When I turned 27 last Christmas, something inside of me shifted. I suddenly questioned everything I knew, everything I wanted out of life, what my full potential could be, and questioned who I wanted to become. I wondered if I was living my life as I wanted it to be or the life I thought was for me. I questioned my very foundation. Now I’m on a positive path of self-discovery, soul-searching, and personal growth. I am finally becoming more comfortable with and accepting who I am. I had no idea about the astrological significance of what this year, my 27th year, would bring when I unknowingly deemed this year ‘The Year Of Caryn’.

Saturn asks you to imagine yourself at age 80, looking back on your life.  Did you achieve your full potential and live true to yourself? Did you accomplish what you wanted out of life? What will you regret not doing because you were too afraid to take a risk?