On Control and Learning to Let Go

“You can’t always choose what happens to you in this life but you sure as hell can choose how you respond and react to it.” –Brixston

Control is a funny thing.

Growing up I was a goodie-two-shoes. I didn’t want to get in trouble so I always did what I was told; I respected authority and the elderly. I was sure to always say my please and thank you’s. I’ve never been arrested or broken any (serious) laws. I never did drugs nor did I drink at all until I went abroad my second semester junior year. I’ve never had that random kiss in a bar or one-night stand; I can count on one hand how many times I’ve been sick from drinking too much. I make lists so I don’t forget things and will often take ownership of something to make sure it gets done. I always sat in the front of the class, turned my homework in on time and I never played hooky from class. My bills are always paid on time; I take daily vitamins, work out, I eat very healthy and watch everything I put in my mouth. I realize I unintentionally take some things too serious, like jokes and some aspects of relationships. I used to care a lot what people thought and tried to please everyone. It shouldn’t be a surprise that I’m a planner. I try to get to the airport with time to spare and always have at least a quarter tank of gas. I’ve always been overcautious, meticulous and constantly trying to do the right thing. I could go on…

While a select few things have changed, most have not. And I would not change who I am.

But in the past 6 months, there have been multiple serious life-changing events, that were both good and bad, that despite all my efforts and precautions, still happened. And there is absolutely nothing I could have done differently. All of it was completely out of my control.

While I cannot control the outcomes, I can control how I react and respond to the situations.

It is frustrating and defeating at first, and it is okay to have those feelings. But rather than dwell and wallow, I’ve chosen to focus on the positive aspects that I can take away from it. What can I learn? How can this situation make me a better person? What is the positive in this particular situation? How can I use my situation to help someone else?

I’ve learned that the Universe often has its own plans. No matter how much you try to be in command of the situation, to do all right things, say the right things, be in the right place, and to protect yourself against the dangers of life, sometimes you just have to let go, take some risks, love freely and live a little because some things are just out of your control.

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One Year Later…

One year ago today I moved to a new city without a job, on a gut feeling and craving change and new adventures. Fast forward to today, I can’t believe how fast time has flown. How has an entire year gone by already? So much has happened. (2013 recaps found here). Each year just seems to pass faster and faster.

There have been a lot of ‘one year anniversaries’ for me in the past few months but this is the last of the anniversaries for a while. I’ve made many life changes and created new milestones for myself. I’ve embraced change, dreams and the unknown. I’ve gone out and made things happen. I am ready for what is next.

Here I am with a ton of amazing experiences, memories and new friends and a great job, and I know this is where I am supposed to be. I have had ups and down, no doubt, and am now looking to move again (within city limits) but I can’t imagine this past year any other way. It is wild to think that not one of the memories that I now cherish from this past year would exist if I hadn’t just up-and-moved across the country.  Who knows what will be this time next year. I look forward to all the adventures that this year will bring.

A HUGE thank you to everyone who helped make this past year so special, memorable and wonderful.

Happy One Year In DC Anniversary to me!

Caryn in DC

Come visit me over at En Route Traveler today…

Have you checked out En Route Traveler yet? It is an online resource that inspires and educates the independent traveler on how to prepare for a journey, discover affordable planning and travel options and best of all, guides the traveler on how to experience a place’s culture and environment in an authentic and responsible way. It is a fabulous resource with very informational articles and beautiful photos!

So when they asked me to guest blog about my experience climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, I was thrilled and jumped at the opportunity! So, I’m excited to be guest blogging with not one but two(!) posts over at En Route Traveler today sharing 24 Insider Tips for Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro and my Complete Packing List for Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro.

Be sure to check it out! Hope you enjoy it as much as I do. 

10 Years Later…

I remember on graduation night 10 years ago, thinking that the 10 year reunion seemed like an eternity away. It seemed so far off that it would never get here. But time doesn’t stop and just like that, I was standing among my peers once again. It is crazy to think about all that has happened since my high school graduation let alone what the world was like a decade ago.

Just within the year I graduated…

  • We were on the brink of the tech boom in 2003.
  • The Recording Industry Association of America filed copyright lawsuits against Internet users for trading songs online.
  • Apple launched iTunes and was cited TIME’s Coolest Invention of 2003
  • A white tiger attacked Roy Horn of the duo “Siegfried & Roy” leaving him partially paralyzed.
  • Microsoft released the first Tablet PC. The year book says, “it enables users to write directly on the screen rather than typing on a keyboard”.
  • tabletKelly Clarkson won American Idol.
  • The space shuttle Columbia exploded on reentry into Earth’s atmosphere, killing all aboard.
  • Amber Alert is introduced.
  • JK Rowling’s fifth Harry Potter book Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix was released.
  • Phones were actually used for making calls and texting with T9.
  • The first camera phone (with a terrible picture) was released and people & companies were panicked about privacy.
  • Oh, and there was no Facebook yet.
  • and more.

nokia phone

Fast forward to this past Friday – to my 10 year high school reunion. It was held at Benchmark, a bar in downtown Chicago the Friday after Thanksgiving.

I am now comfortable and confident in my own skin so I walked into the bar alone; something I NEVER would have done until recent months. I knew I’d obviously know people so it wasn’t like I’d be alone for long. Plus, I’m at a point in my life that if you are still going to judge me, that’s your prerogative. I walked around and did my best to talk with everyone, even if we weren’t particularly close in school. We’re all adults now; I’m long over the high school cliques and drama. With a few exceptions, most people dropped their cliques and were friendly, pleasant and chatty. Majority of people looked the exact same. While I think my face is a bit thinner, I know I fall in that category, too. I enjoyed catching up with friends I’d lost contact with and meeting my peer’s spouses. One benefit to attending reunions is that you have an opportunity to rekindle those lost friendships. It was very surreal that it was actually happening, that it was my turn to be celebrating. How had 10 years passed so quickly? It was bizarre being in a bar with all these familiar faces, that I hadn’t seen in so long, all in one room. It was really nice to reconnect with those I’d lost contact with.

10 Year Time Capsules I had completely forgotten about filling this out at Grad Night until someone asked if I had found mine yet. Turns out, I did! I’m so grateful I took the time back then; this was so fun to read. Apparently, even then I knew I was passionate about impacting lives, making a difference and knew that it was important that I stay true to myself.  Here are a few of my answers:

  • Favorite TV Shows: FRIENDS, Everybody Loves Raymond, My Wife and Kids (FRIENDS was still on!)
  • What is the funniest thing you did at GBN, but didn’t get caught? I didn’t do anything risky worthy of getting caught (Yeah, sounds about right)
  • What do you want to do for your career? PR, Marketing, Sociology, Psychology, anything that will have an impact on someone else.  (I wound up minoring in Sociology and I have a background in media/marketing. I also took my current job for that EXACT reason that I wanted to have an impact on others!”)

Predictions for 2013:

  • What is your occupation: No idea
  • Where will you be living? Chicago (close – I moved away from Chicago Feb 2013)
  • Will you be married? No. (sad, why didn’t I even believe it?!)
  • Who will you still be friends with from your graduating class? Of the five people I listed, only one remains.
  • What do you hope your greatest achievement will be? Stay true to myself, graduate college and make a difference in other’s lives.

Even though I may have lost my way for several years in there, it seems that I always knew my purpose, my passion. The fact that I took my current job specifically to “make a difference and impact people’s lives” and have recently taken drastic actions to ensure that I find myself – enabling me to finally be true to myself, is absolutely wild. I guess I knew myself better then than I realized!  I think it’s funny, but kind of sad that I didn’t think I’d be married either.

Facebook Contrary to what most people think, I think it actually helped serve as a conversation starter for some. I heard, “Oh, your wedding photos were beautiful,” “I saw you moved to California, how is it?” or “You went to Africa!” etc. It added dimension to conversations. If you had nothing to say but wanted to be friendly, it wasn’t creepy but rather complimentary to say, “I saw you got married, Mazel Tov” or something along those lines. I sure as hell am thankful Facebook didn’t exist while I was in high school but it wasn’t as detrimental to the reunion as I expected.

I originally went to the reunion because I figured, “I’d rather go and know it sucked than not go and regret it.” There is a lot of hype and high expectations that build in anticipation of the big day.  Turns out, I’m really glad I went. I had a great time catching up with people and it was great to see so many familiar faces. A lot has happened in 10 years, both in the world and for me personally.

Left: Senior year 2003. Right: at the reunion with Tom - my prom date (left) and good friend Robby (right).
Left: Senior year 2003. Right: at the reunion with Tom – my prom date (left) and good friend Robby (right).

Once again, 10 years from now seems almost impossible to imagine. But just like this reunion, the 20 year reunion will be here before we know it. To think that I’ll be almost 40 at that point is mind blowing. Oye. I feel old just thinking about that.

10 years from now: I hope I am happily married, settled with two(?) kids and a loving family. I hope that I am happy in my job and that it allows me to support my family, that I continue to have adventures, pursue my dreams, continue to travel, and am making a difference in people’s lives. Maybe I’ll be back in Chicago, maybe still in DC, maybe I’ll be in a different country all together. Who knows!

Here is to the next 10 years…

Did you go to your 10 year reunion? 20 year? What did you think? 

19 points: Be Thankful

While I try to practice Daily Gratitude; Thanksgiving reminds us to take a moment to pause, eliminate the clutter, reflect on the past year and share what we are thankful for.

gratitude

This year I have quite a bit to be thankful for. 

  1. I’m thankful that Thanksgiving, Channukah AND my 10 year high school reunion all fall on the same weekend, saving me from three separate costly trips home.
  2. I’m thankful I get to spend over a week with my family, since I don’t live close anymore.
  3. I’m thankful I had the courage to move across country to DC.
  4. I’m thankful for new friends I’ve made in DC, particularly Cara.
  5. I’m thankful that I am only two hours away from Terra and Stacey and can just hop on a train at any moment to visit.
  6. I’m thankful for all the experiences I’ve had in the past (two specifically) years that have helped me grow and shape me into the person I’ve become.
  7. I’m thankful for my job. I love that when I get a candidate a job, I am positively impacting their life.
  8. I’m thankful for food, clothing, shelter and clean water. Because really, with these necessities taken care of, everything else is a privilege.
  9. I’m thankful for airplanes. I am still amazed that we can fly through the air in a heavy metal tube to travel to a new location within a matter of hours, rather than days.
  10. I’m thankful that I don’t already have everything I desire. This allows me to have things to work towards, look forward to and strive for, and appreciate it when I receive it.
  11. I’m thankful for my body for allowing me to do everything that I take for granted.
  12. I’m thankful that I don’t know everything. This allows me the opportunity to continue to grow and learn new things.
  13. I’m thankful that no one in my family has any serious health issues.
  14. I’m thankful for my family; although quirky and sometimes I admittedly lose patience quickly, I am blessed to have such a loving and supportive family.
  15. I’m thankful for the mistakes I’ve made and the lessons I’ve learned.
  16. I’m thankful for the difficult times, they have helped me grow.
  17. I’m thankful I don’t have school loans or debt.
  18. I’m thankful that while I like Channukah being so far from my birthday, I am glad that Thanksgivvukah won’t happen again for a long time, another 76,000 years. It just didn’t seem right to be celebrating both together. Hope all you MOT’s enjoyed the combo holiday.
  19. I am thankful for YOU. Thank you for continuing to read, support me and for being apart of my journey. Your presence and loyalty means more to me than words can describe.
thanksgivukah
thanksgivukah menorah and turkey

 

There is so much to be thankful for, my list could go on for pages. So tell me, what are you thankful for this year?