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.

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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
 

How To: The DOs & DON’Ts of how to help a friend get through a breakup

We’ve all been there before.  It doesn’t matter the details of the breakup, whether they were dating 5 weeks or 5 years, if they weren’t serious or if they were engaged. What does matter is that she is hurting and heartbroken and she needs you, her friend.  But we all handle things in different ways.  Not every tactic works for everyone and not everyone wants to be supported or cared for in the same way. Know your friend – but Here are several suggestions on the DO’s and DON’Ts for helping your friend through her breakup through her breakup:

DO be there for her, be supportive and listen: One of the most important things you can do for her is to listen. Let her know that you understand and that you are there for her. She may be a broken record in your eyes, but she needs to talk it out. Be there to just listen.  Be there emotionally, physically and mentally. Tell her she has people in her corner who love and support her and that she is not alone.  When she is lonely, keep her company. Even if you sit in silence or watch TV, she’ll appreciate your mere presence.

DO offer positive & healthy distractions to keep her busy: Encourage her to get out of the house. Help her get involved in fun activities – Take a day trip together, go for a walk, window shop, volunteer for a cause, go to a movie or a concert, go out for dinner, play games, see a comedian, get her a massage. Invite her out to things, have a girl’s night out (or in), or watch an episode of Glee together.  Make sure she is not always alone and get her out of the apartment.

DO reach out just to say hi and that you’re thinking of her via calls, texts, emails, e-cards or even snail mail: Remind her that she is not alone and that someone (you!) care. Be genuine, not nosey. Ask how she is doing or if she prefers space. If she prefers space, that might be just that day. Tomorrow she may want your presence again. If she does want space, she will tell you to stop but still appreciate that at least you cared enough about her to try.  However, most people need to feel loved and thought of and will need their friends to check in on them.

DO NOT set and forget or one and done.  Just because the breakup is not at the forefront of your mind, does not mean that she has moved on, too: One text or call is not enough. Even a few weeks or months later she still needs to know that you care, that you are still thinking about her, and that she is not alone. You may think you are a great friend because you went to dinner with her once or texted twice, but a real true friend continues to reach out consistently, not only in the beginning.

DO encourage her to rediscover herself:  Is there something she has always wanted to do but never done? Anything she never tried like knitting, taking dancing lessons or baking peanut butter cookies because he was allergic? Has she always dreamt of traveling but he was afraid of flying? Encourage her to explore new things, to find new hobbies and passions.

DO NOT make the breakup about you: Let her have this moment. Don’t compare her breakup to your past breakups. She is the one grieving now, so let her work it out. After some time has passed and her wounds are not as fresh and she is doing better and moving on, then you can swap battle stories.

DO have comments & feedback but keep it positive:  It is okay to say, You did the right thing, or I can’t believe he did that to you. BUT…

DO NOT Bash and trash the ex: This is not the time to let all your real feelings out of the bag. Don’t release all the personal complaints you’ve held against him. Avoid criticisms of his personality, looks and habits. She chose at one point to be with that person good or bad so don’t say you never liked him anyway or how ugly he was. What happens on the off-chance they patch things up and get back together? She won’t forget what you said and your comments will likely come back to haunt you. You might think bashing is helpful but it is not supportive behavior. She will go back and forth on hate – be supportive and positive. Don’t hate.

DO make her laugh and have fun together: The breakup shouldn’t end the fun in your friendship.  She will have good days and bad days, but let her know it is okay to laugh and have fun even if she is sad and missing him. Help take her mind of things. Try to make her laugh even when she thinks she doesn’t have it in her to smile.

DO NOT expect her to “get over it” after x amount of time: She doesn’t know how long it will take but she needs to be able to grieve. Time heals so let her have her time. Be patient and understanding. Breakups can be like a death when you lose someone from your life. It is a loss. Let her mourn the relationship. Don’t rush the healing and grieving process.
DO reach out proactively: Don’t wait for her to tell you she is struggling. Check in with her before  she reaches out to you. Knowing that someone is thinking about her (without her bringing it up first) will help her heal faster.
DO NOT forget to say 4 little words: “I’m here for you”: She is venting and heartbroken but she is also probably worried about if she is annoying you, too. Be present, listen, and her confidant. Be encouraging and supportive. She has so much on her plate and is worried about so much. Don’t be another cause of worry for her.

DO respond to her emails or text messages with a little thought of something that shows you care: Even if you do not know what to say, try to say something that makes her feel like you care. Replying only “I’m sorry” to her plea for help is not supportive and screams that you do not care. Instead try, “I’m sorry, is there anything I can? Let’s grab a dinner or coffee soon.”

DO NOT tell her that dating sucks and that there is no one out there. Remind her that this pain won’t last forever: Remind her that she will be happy again and that it gets better.

Do be her personal cheerleader: Breakups can be are a blow to the self-esteem and she may have a lot of self-doubt. She may feel she is not pretty enough, not love-able enough, not fun enough, that she is never going to find another man – etc.  Tell her how wonderful she is, remind her of her great qualities, and how much your friendship means to you.

DO NOT make her cry about her ex in a bar (or anywhere for that matter): She will cry about it anyway. Do not instigate it. Do not try to get the gossip out of her about the details of her breakup. If she wants to talk to you she will. Do not bring up The Ex after she has been drinking. Again, if she wants to talk  about it she will.

DO be a confidant and trust worthy: She is talking to you because she trusts you and needs a friend. Do not be a blabber mouth. Don’t go sharing her stories with others. Show her you care by keeping her trust and stories confidential.

DO NOT get upset with her if she asks you to do her a favor regarding The Ex: If she tells you, “I’m still getting his mail” or “can you please give him his pants that he left at my place” just be a doll and offer to pass along the pants & the mail. It is hard to have The Ex’s stuff still lying around. Help her move on by removing the memories.  She isn’t asking you for this favor to start anything or make you feel uncomfortable. You are her friend and she is looking to you for help. Odds are they are not on speaking terms or it is too painful. ** Note: Once or twice is ok, but you cannot be the monkey in the middle.

DO set boundaries but be polite and subtle: The breakup is hard on both of you. You want to listen and be there for her but it can be stressful for you too. Help yourself and help her at the same time. Be upfront and agree to talk about the situation for 15, 30 minutes, an hour, whatever seems appropriate for you both, with the intention to change subjects after the time has passed. (note: Don’t interrupt her and say TIME’S UP though!) It is good for your mental health as well as hers. This allows you to continue to listen but stops the breakup from taking over her life, too, allowing her to think about and move on to something else.

DO NOT tell her juicy gossip you her about The Ex: Be considerate of her feelings. If you are still friends with The Ex, do not tell her that he slept with Susie Slutface. This will not make her feel better.

MOST IMPORTANT- DO BE A FRIEND!!: Maybe she actually is your first friend to go through a breakup. Maybe you don’t know what encouraging words to say or what to do. Don’t worry about that. You don’t have to talk about the breakup.  Whether she is your first friend to experience a breakup or not, being a friend shouldn’t be unfamiliar territory. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel here- JUST BE HER FRIEND. All she needs is you to be there for her. 

Life after breakups can be very emotional and challenging. She will learn a lot about herself and who her real friends are during this process. Be the friend that you would want to have if you went through this. Being a friend shouldn’t be a foreign language to you, but here are few of my personal favorite things my closest friends are doing to help me: 

  • Coming home to an empty apartment after he moved out was heart wrenching. My ex neighbor turned friend came over and helped me rearrange the couch, do laundry, hang pictures on the newly barren walls, make my bed with said clean sheets. It was the littlest thing but it made such a difference to me.
  • Offer to bring dinner over. If she is anything like me, I have trouble making myself dinner when I’m blue. Bringing her dinner (and eating with her) is one of the most helpful things you can do.
  • Have a girls night & sleep over.  Sounds silly to have sleep overs as an adult but it will mean the world to her, especially if she used to live with The Ex.
  • Fly across country to physically be with me, to hug me and to help cheer me up.
  • I got Snail Mail letters filled with encouragement, support and love from fellow bloggers. Emails are good but getting an actual physical envelope to open really shows her that you care.

*this is all from ‘her’ perspective for consistency but same advice applies to guys.


What do you say to or do for friends when they are going through a breakup? What has helped you move on from your own breakups?  Are you, like me, going through a really tough breakup right now?  Don’t worry, we’ve all been there. You are not alone!