Sunday, October 27, 2013

free pizza

silence is my enemy. its in the silence that my head begins to reel. but tonight i sat in it, i soaked it in. i let my thoughts run and flip inside my head.

as i biked home tonight from a long shift at starbucks, it felt like the city was sleeping. it was only 11pm on a sunday night, but Philadelphia was quiet and calm. silence. it was the kind of quiet when you can actually hear the click of the stop lights switch from red to green.

i sat at a red light, and waited for the click.


i didn't move my feet, instead i looked down and saw an overflowing bag of free starbucks food and a dominos box. i was overwhelmed with gratitude and appreciation.

A couple nights ago, I was talking to some friends about wanting pizza. All I wanted in the world for my free Saturday night was a pizza, a movie and my very terrible attempt at crocheting. In my head, my happiness would only happen if I had Dominos in hand, the best gluten free pizza in Philadelphia - trust me. But I thought about being responsible, and less impulsive and self gratifying and I passed on the g-free slice of heaven, and it was shocking - but I did survive.

I woke up late this morning and headed to New Jersey to meet up with some old friends I used to work with at Wills Eye. We laughed and ran in to corn stalks and away from bees, there was not a cloud in the sky, but there was sun on my face and a fullness in my heart. I was with dear friends who, when I think about them, I get this feeling that can only be described as "warm and fuzzy". I don't know what a fuzzy feeling should feel like, but I know I feel it when I think about these women and their families.

I came home, walked in the door and my mood went from pure bliss to a 5 year-old whiner in a matter of seconds. I had to park half way down the block and I had to work at my second job and I was missing my Sunday night Walking Dead night at a friends house.. Mind you, my legs work fine, so the parking situation was not a big deal and the job is truly a blessing. A blessing I should be overly grateful for, but instead I complain about it with every breath for 2 hours before I go in.

My roommate Lindsey and I were talking about something important to me when I felt like she was being insensitive and I shut down. In hindsight, I was just whining and in a pissy mood for going in to work on a sunday, and taking it out on poor Lindsey (who was already suffering because she had to watch the Eagles terrible loss - read: embarrassing loss). Instead of shutting down as well, she stood up danced in front of me until I couldn't stand it any longer and I had to laugh. She always does that - turns my moods around, even if its her I am mad at - I can't stay mad for long. She doesn't let me sit in my negativity. Life is too short for anyone to sit in negativity, and she won't allow it. For that, I am so grateful for her and for her spirit and the fact I get the privilege of living with her.

We laughed, the Eagles lost, and she even gave me her soup for dinner. I was well on my way to having a better night..

I went in to work, barely making it in on time. In therapy, when your clients don't show up on time repeatedly, it means they don't want to be there. Every time I go into work, I realize I don't want to be there when I clock in with seconds to spare before I am considered "late". They threw me on bar, making drink after drink, the line winding around the store. I was overwhelmed but handling it as long as I kept tunnel vision. I heard a couple customers say "excuse me" but I ignored them, I was scared they might actually need something. Out of sight, out of mind.

I had been at this pace for about 2 hours when I heard "excuse me", but I was still ignoring those words. The man said "umm, Carolyn?" I looked up and saw a Dominos delivery man staring at me. I put down the 3485th pumpkin spice latte I had made that evening and stared at the delivery man, who in turn, stared back at me.

"Yes, I'm Carolyn"
"I have your pizza"
"I didn't order a pizza"
"But I have a pizza for Carolyn"
"But I didn't order a pizza"
"Are you Carolyn?"
"Yes, but I didn't order a pizza, do I need to give you money?"
"No. Paid"
...tears ensued. my shift let me take a break.

It was so nice. My friends bought me pizza. And my favorite kind, Dominos Gluten Free Hawaiian, if you were wondering.

I was so happy.

I was biking home after work and I looked at the pizza box and all the left over salads work was throwing away (which means lunch and dinner for me tomorrow) and I was so overwhelmed. I thought about my roommate, and my friends and my church, my sleeping city. I thought about my lack of hunger, and the glorious morning I spent basking in the sunlight on a hayride with people I love so deeply. I thought about my friends who completed their adoption with their son just 2 days prior, and my friends who recently got married, as well as some who will get married soon. I thought about my family and how blessed I am to have parents who call me so often, just because. I thought about the kids I get to serve at Create every single Wednesday who trust me enough to hug me every time they see me.

I feel so lucky.

I pray often; but tonight, I am praising like I should do more often. I am rolling around the word blessings, sitting in reality of the vast amount I have in my life. I have so much, I feel so full in heart and in life. Things aren't always perfect, and life doesn't always look the way I want it to, but God is present in the good and the bad. He has blessed with me friends I can talk to honestly and I know they will listen and not judge me. I take many things for granted, but tonight I have a thankful heart. Thankful for such good friends and amazing community.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow. seriously ya'll.

Thursday, October 17, 2013


I am a creature of habit. I don't like change and I really hate when I have no control of the change around me. I know this is not a sexy characteristic, so I hide it the best I know how in front of strangers and new friends...but my old friends know I hate change. I like rhythms, familiarity, that feeling of being comfortable. Gosh, it makes me shudder just thinking about how unadventurous I actually am. The cats out of the bag, I suppose.

There are some serious repercussions of my unadventurous spirit, and some not-so-serious ones.

Not so serious:
Trying new things is really hard and anxiety producing. I talk a lot about the things I want to do, learn, accomplish. But I don't take that leap. There are a couple reasons for this.
  • One: I am not naturally talented, so when I learn things for the first time I look foolish. I don't like looking foolish, obviously.
  • Two: Some times some of my grandiose ideas cost a lot of money. Social workers don't typically make a lot of the green. And I have googled how much those silly rock walls cost for one lesson...and don't get me start on how much it cost to learn how to fly a plane.
  • Three: I am an extrovert. I like doing things with others, but I don't like looking foolish in front of others. I would like to do new things with others. I look foolish when I try new things. I don't try new things in front of others. So I don't try new things. And so on, and so forth.
A little more serious:
I get really sad when there is change in my social circle. People are constantly leaving me in Philadelphia. Which is funny, because I use to threaten all the people of Philadelphia I would leave you first. But I digress. This is a problem because they are no longer part of my routine and instead of thinking of the great things they are going on to, I am selfishly thinking about how they are not part of my daily rhythm and it makes me sad. It is change.

Being comfortable changing thought patterns or negative behaviors (sin) is something I have struggled with for years. When you don't like change, it makes it really hard for the Lord to work in your life to change you and shape your spirit to resemble one more like Jesus. This could also be classified under stubborn, prideful, blind, etc etc.

 I will never forget a life changing moment at Urbana in St. Louis in 2006.  Brenda Salter McNeil (gosh, I really love her) got up and started preaching. That woman was on FIRE with passion. She repeated over and over, "Never settle, because where you settle, you will die". I think in a lot of ways, when we get scared of change, when I push against heart changes that need to happen, when I become lazy instead of picking up a new hobby - I am settling. This is a scary thought because being stagnate causes death, maybe not always physically but definitely emotionally and spiritually.

Instead of being paralyzed with fear of change, I decided to take a step tonight. Just like so long ago in 2006 when I stepped on a mountain for the first time in Colorado and decided to give this whole "snowboarding thing a whirl" (see my first time out with a couple of my patient friends who I looked VERY foolish in front of as it took my 4 hours to get down the mountain the first time)
After I conquered my fear of snowboarding, I even decided to jump out of a plane a couple days later.
It was totally worth looking foolish.
Over the years, I have gotten much better about enduring and even embracing changes such as letting my friends leave me in Philadelphia. My selfishness has dwindled and I have matured (somewhat) in this area. I have started new and big things that have been really scary and then I realize, that was because Jesus' hand was in it. It wasn't from me, it wasn't about me.
There have been, however, many other things I have talked about starting, learning, accomplishing that I have not done anything about. This list includes, but is not limited to, learning the guitar, going to more concerts, learning to crochet, learning how to rock climb, learning how to fly a plane, going kayaking at least once a year, going to a play/symphony during that rush period an hour before, competing in a Tri, visiting California, taking more hip hop classes, trying yoga, taking real pictures, the list (seriously) goes on and on....
So tonight, I bought a ticket to a concert to see one of my favorite bands: The Lone Bellow coming in November to Philadelphia AND........I did this.
Well on my way to not being scared to mess up. Preparing to embrace the foolish look.
Life is too short.


Friday, September 20, 2013

the music of a war child

I have been working on a post about the power of words and it's not going...great. When you write about words with words, it doesn't exactly have the umph you think it will...

Anyway, inbetween drafting up a post I started to distract myself with TED talks.

I love TED talks. Like a lot. Every time I listen to one I feel inspired to change the world. I guess that's the point, though, right? People use their words to inspire others to act or think differently.

Maybe one person out of the thousands who hear the talk will act, and I would call that a success.

Anyway, while grasping for inspiration on what to write, I saw this video.

We all have preconceived notions about war, refugee, child solider. Upon hearing or reading these words, it is natural to have a response. Most of the time that response is a negative one. Rightfully so. But I would challenge you to watch this and take heart. Instead of sadness and despair, choose hope next time you think about one of those words.

And so, I need you to watch this video. But before you click to watch (and it will be worth it), I need highlight some things to be mindful of.
  • Many times, TED talks are watched by upper middle class educated yuppies & idealistic college students, therefore when the music gets going at the end, watch the audience instead of Emmanuel. Watching the audience in bewilderment, struggling to figure out how to move their arms and bodies in sync with a beat may have been one of my favorite moments of the whole video.
  • Also, note the woman taking video of the performance, find her and let her know TED talks are already video taped. But thank her for giving the TED camera guys that really sweet, unfocused, focused, unfocused shot. You'll see...
  • be encouraged
  • choose hope
  • pray, everything he describes is a tragedy. If it doesn't break your heart, you are not listening. 
  • want to get involved? let's chat.
I tried to embed the video. It didn't work, so just click here.

Monday, September 2, 2013


This morning while I was running swimming through the city, I saw a man sitting on a wall. I saw him about the time my salty sweat had just started to drip in to my eyes, burning with every blink. This is actually a blessing while I'm running because I'm not thinking about how much I want to die, instead I'm thinking, "Why aren't my eye brows working? I need to get a sweat band. How can I possibly make this look good?"

Anyway. I saw this guy. He was an older gentleman and had on a bright, highlighter bright, orange shirt. He was sitting on the wall outside of a big beautiful church and he smiled at me.

 I guess this is when I should mention when I run I do NOT smile, mostly I look super angry. I'm working on it.

But this time, I smiled back and then I looked at his shirt "Running sucks". HA I need that shirt.

Thank you sir, for making me feel not so alone on my run. Thank you for making me laugh. My morning motivation.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013


Over the past couple weeks I have really wanted to write. Which is ironic since I spend most of my time at work writing. But every time I am feeling motivated to write I am not by a computer or I have previous engagements I am required to attend like "work" or "church" or "eat" or "duck dynasty". Life is hard.

I have been thinking a lot about a topic that ties in to my previous post about identity; I have been thinking a lot about perception lately. Our identity is often times wrapped up in what others think of us...their perception of who we are. Some times their perceptions of who we are are spot on, but a lot of times they are not because we spend a lot of time with inner dialogue we never and should never voice and therefore we feel no ones perception of us is really all that accurate. 

Because I am in the helping field and a thoughtful writer, I thought I would just give you the definition of "perception" to make sure we are on the same page. Merriam Webster (whoever made him/her/it boss) said perception is defined as "a result of perceiving". When I found that to be unhelpful, I noticed a link "See perception defined for kids" ah ha. That's where I need to explore. I clicked, expecting simple, concise knowledge and I got this, "a result of perceiving".  Right....moving on.

There is this "common thought" if you will, about a particular man in my circle of friends. I have heard it from multiple people, including him. They (being his roommates) say, "he is the most not put together, together person in the world". Which is a ridiculous statement for so many reasons, I mean have they met all the people in the world? So dramatic. I know nothing about being dramatic. Such an exaggeration.*

Anyway, I have thought about that because the person in which this statement has been made (I wont 'out' him publicly) does not feel this is true. This is just a perception of him. This made me start thinking....what are peoples perceptions of me? What are the false perceptions rolling around in my life?

While I was thinking about it, I was trying on dresses at a store. I was on vacation and when you spend money on vacation it doesn't count (false perception 1). I also have this idea that I am much more glamorous than I actually am while on vacation, because I'm not working and I'm always ordering food and ice cream (if you eat terrible food but you are on vacation you don't gain weight) (false perceptions 2 & 3). Vacation dialogue goes something like this, "Now where is my butler" "Another margarita please, yes one for everyone in the restaurant for everyone in the world!" "I have an endless supply of money" "oh, you have to work? That must be dreadful, darling" "I would like to purchase a hermit crab for every child on the beach" "world peace!". I also begin to think its okay to refer to strangers as "honey" "doll" and "dear". It's not.

Anyway, I was trying on dresses at a local Delaware store that I love and only shop at when I'm feeling glamorous (on vacation). I put on a dress and thought "Oh, I could wear this to a wedding" "Oh, I can wear this one to a rehearsal dinner" "This is a great date dress" "This dress will be perfect for when I have my own rehearsal dinner in 50 years, I'm sure it will still be the latest trend and fit me like a dream" "If I just lose like 8 pounds, this one will zip"

I know....Houston...well, you know the rest.

The problem here is that I already have dresses for all the weddings and rehearsal dinners I have planned for October (three) so I don't need another one (what I need to buy are wedding gifts). Also this thought process reveals that I perceive I am so important that my friends will notice if I wear the same dress to more than one wedding (hint: they won't unless I am wearing white or if they have a crush on me and spend hours going through all of my 4309847560247 pictures I have tagged on facebook - a problem for another post). And the second incorrect perception is that I am rich. Both of these perceptions are false and I walked out of the dressing room with the 28 dresses I had tried on and handed them back to the nice sales woman. Surprisingly, she did not snarl at me when I said "no, I don't want any of them. that's right, not one. But thank you for letting me take up one of your two dressing rooms for the last 4 hours".

As far as the thoughts regarding 'date dresses', I will start by saying I am a woman. I am not dating anyone and I do not have endless dates lined up and therefore do not need date dresses. But like I said, I am a woman living in America and we were taught in 2nd grade to have date dresses. This is more of a fact than a perception, but I do perceive I am awesome enough that someone will want to date me...some day. And when that day comes, I will not have the perfect date dress. And I'm sure the guy won't notice, because hopefully I will be on a date with a guy who is straight....and doesn't understand the meaning of "sooo last season".

Another perception is "I am funny". I laugh at myself all the time, literally all the time. Sometimes I start laughing before I get a chance to say my funny thought. Sometimes I don't get to say my funny thing, but I have satisfaction in knowing how funny I could have been. Sometimes I get the chance to say the funny thing and no one else laughs except me. From this scenario, I still have satisfaction from at least one person laughing - me. Win-win... I have come to realize I am not that funny, but I really like to laugh and find a lot about life and people humorous.... Seriously, if I didn't laugh about all the crazy stuff that happens to me, I would lose it.

I thought about continuing this post, to include my perceptions about my weight, salt water taffy and my 8th grade formal but I have learned recently that less is more. So I will save my other perceptions for a "part 2" or during a conversation where you buy me a coffee/beer/ice cream...or maybe a coffee ice cream float in a stout....I have a really hard time with 'less is more'.

*I am very dramatic. This was blatant use of sarcasm.   Also tried making up a word here. It didn't make sense, so I took it out but I googled it before I deleted it to see if it was a word. Sometimes Daniel Luster does this and he gets one right. I did not.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

identity crisis

Lets talk identity. It seems like recently I have been having a lot of conversations around identity. (Maybe I have been having them for years and never stop to think about it.) There are a few observations I have made.

People have identity crises sometimes. Its scary not only for the person who is living in it, but also for those around them - they can no longer categorize this person in their life. This is confusing on many levels. And Americans like structure and fitting people in boxes. Don't mess with our boxes. Things get messy.

People want to have identity in something. This goes back to wanting to be "known". Normally people are known for something they have accomplished or are exceptionally talented doing. When someone does not think they are exceptional at something, they feel their identity is lost, or worse - boring!

Identity, everyone has one. No matter what. Even you and me. We have classified ourselves. We create our identity and sometimes let others help shape it as well. Some aspects of our identity we love and some we loathe.

Which brings me to the point of this post. I have come to terms with my identity. Are you ready for it? I bet you'll never guess what it is. Well...first, let me tell you some things I am not, but at certain times in my life wished I was.

I am not crafty. I would love to love Pintrest. I would love to be able to put together a party and have decorations that are cute and vintagey - is that even a word? But I can't do it. Its not my thing. I want so desperately to knit you a sweater and wrap your gift with the perfect DIY bow I sewed together using the thread I dyed in my vintage bucket I got weathered personally by Anthropologie. But guess what - its not gonna happen. I have friends who are very gifted in this area and for a long time, instead of encouraging their gifts, I got jealous of them. No more. I will never own napkin holders and I will never know how to not match in order to match and be trendy. I probably will never enjoy a crafting party, The letters "DIY" stress me out when placed together in that order, and I will never be considered an artist. I am structured and type A with a Google Doc for everything. And that's ok - it makes me happy.

I am not a chef. BUT...drum roll please. I can cook. There, I said it. For years I have said "I cannot cook" and I have finally come to terms with the fact that I can. The correct terminology I should have embraced long ago is I do not enjoy cooking; and I am not creative while participating in it. And, again, that's ok! I will leave it up to my friends that like do it and write blogs about it and get enjoyment out of it - and I'll bring the wine. Which sounds like such a better option for me.

I am not a runner. This is verryyyy trendy amongst my friends. People run in Philly! They love it, so much so  that they join running clubs and run in pairs. They run a lot and for a long time and go really far...and they think its fun! I will never understand this, because I don't like running. But I like swimming and playing tennis, dancing and biking. All very equivalent to running, but the biggest difference is I enjoy those activities.

I am not gentle. When I became a Christian there was a verse that plagued me. It creeped into my inner dialogue and kept me up at night and made me whimper when I read it. 1 Peter 3:4. The author is talking about where a woman's beauty should come from. Let me quote it to you: "Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight". YIKES. Have you met me?? Gentle or Quiet are not things I do well. Brash and confrontational are more my speed. I'm a mover and a shaker! Spunky and full of life, unwavering in my beliefs, passionate, unyielding, excitable and boisterous are words that come to mind when I think of myself.  Now I have come to realize reading one line in the bible is a sure fire way to take holy scripture out of context and, in turn, get upset over the misunderstanding. After reading a few stories in the Bible about some of the women, I do not think God intended for us to be a "mushroom in the corner" as my father says (please read previous post about him, you will understand that reference much better). But seriously, He gave me this spirit for a reason - to keep you on your toes. Not to stifle my spirit and pretend to be something I am not. He made me this way for a reason, and I fully embrace the lively personality I possess.

I am not athletic. Gosh, I wish this weren't true. Because I like sports and I enjoy playing them. But lets be real - I'm not good at them. But it's not about winning or losing, its about how you play the game. Which in my case is not that hopeful because I play the game terribly. I have fun though! Sorry all you competitive boys I play any sports with! I am teaching you patience. Get over it.

I don't know anything about politics, history, science or most of what is going on around me. I am trying to get better at this, because I know this isn't something I should be proud of - and believe me, I'm not. I should know why our economy is failing and what happened in that war way back when. I should know the difference between an atom and a neuron...should those even be in the same category?? But I just haven't focused a lot of time or energy into learning that stuff. And I was a terrible student, so the little I did learn is now gone. Wiped clean to make room in the brain for other things.  So next time I laugh at your political joke or current event reference, know I am doing it to be nice and so that I won't appear dumb. I really have no idea what you are talking about. Much more than you probably think.

I'm not really that cool. I know - shocking.

Now I know what you are thinking, "wow Carolyn...depressing". But the good news is, I know what I am! For years I have struggled with focusing on the things I am not. I have looked at other people and thought, man I really wish I was crafty/artsy, athletic, smart, really cool. But I am not! So lets focus on what I am. Have you figured it out yet?

The answer is.....I am a people person. I like people. I know a lot about people, because I listen to them. I like talking to people and hearing their story and drinking coffee and taking walks while they talk about what makes them tick. What makes their heart beat a little faster and what makes their palms sweat. What makes their brows furrow and their stomach churn. I like to make people laugh and let them cry when they need to cry. I enjoy hearing about their journey and make them feel safe in sharing the process with another human being that could easily take that vulnerability and smash it into a million pieces. 

But more importantly, my identity is wrapped up in Christ and who He has made me. When I was having an identity crisis, a couple good friends pointed this out to me. Sure I could focus on all the things I am not, and all the things I could be or I could focus on the only thing that matters - Jesus. And a sigh of relief and comfort came over me. I don't have to impress anyone, I need no one else's approval. My only job here is to have an identity in Christ by glorifying who He is, what He has done and loving others in the process.

Instead of embracing the jealously that can arise when I hear about the amazing things others are doing and accomplishing, I will commit to encouragement, happiness and love. I don't think I am alone in this. I think we all feel it in some way. We were all made for greatness but if we are so focus on someone else's greatness, we will miss our story. Let us not focus on our shortcomings, or the shortcomings of those around us because we will miss what makes us great. What makes you great? What makes you - you?  

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

I want so badly to believe....

.....that "there is truth, that love is real"
and I want life in every word to the extent that it's absurd

Clark Gable is one of my all time favorite songs. Beside the fact that I think The Postal Service is genius in their melodies, their lyrics are brilliant as an added bonus.

I was listening to this song this morning while I was doing my work and I started thinking (uh oh). Mind you it is Wednesday, and on Wednesdays I am always a little more thoughtful and analytical. Because every Wednesday, for almost 3 years (over 3 years?) a small group of ladies and I have been meeting to talk, laugh, cry, talk, pray, cry, eat. This morning's conversation was rich and vulnerable; in turn it made me feel full and known. A rarity among 20 somethings of my generation.

But it made me start thinking....
What an awesome time in my life this is.

And then I started thinking....
I want to look back on my life and have no regrets. I don't know how to do that, or where to start, but I know it involves risk and confrontation.

I am thinking..
I am really lucky. Praise God, seriously.

That is all.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

every day should be father's day

A few weeks ago my father saw my (third) tattoo. And he didn't freak out.

This statement is possibly one of the most shocking statements I have ever proclaimed, with the exception of my declaration last night: "I'm training for a half marathon"....we'll see how long that one lasts. If you know me I know what you are thinking, "Carolyn, you exaggerate all the way that is the most shocking statement you have ever made" (I am hearing Justin and Jeremy in my head as I type this). But I will counter that argument with, have you met my father? Let me introduce you to him.....

My 5'2'' father is 71, he is from Tuckahoe, New York...essentially NYC. He was raised by a single mother, Louise, and his grandfather, Pop pop, in the 40's; he was an only child. He started working when he was 13, sang in the church choir and ran cross country for his high school. He followed in his father's footsteps and joined the Army right after high school. Because of his father's rank he was placed in the "guided missiles" department in the Vietnam War (he is also dyslexic which makes me very nervous when I think about the missiles he was in charge of writing coordinates for....). He started his own business and bought a house in Delaware in the early 70's. When he was set up with my Mom, he was also dating 4 other women at the same time. He tells me constantly its the only way to go, date, date, date. He still owns a flip phone, does not have an e-mail address and has no idea how to turn on a computer or how to check his voicemail, forget about a text message.

He is loud, boisterous and short. Life of the party, story teller (exaggerator) extraordinaire. He is where my life of the party personality comes from. I may look down on him physically, but I look up to him in life lessons he has taught me during my 27 years here on Earth. In general, I would say he tends to be a little more on the "conservative, traditional" side of things....and by that I mean he is the most conservative, traditional person I know.

A lot of times when I think about who my father is, I wonder where I came from, and I think he does too. His liberal, outrageous daughter adorned with tattoos and living in the scary city is a bewilderment to him; every single day he shakes his head in confusion. We fight, bicker and misunderstand each other all the time. But we also love each other in a deep way, in a "blood is thicker than water" kind of way. He let me cry on his shoulder and was there for every ballet performance I had for 13 years. He was there when I failed and with every success I had as well. He was there, putting aside any plans he may have had for his day, year or life. He pushed them aside and made room for his children, each in our own way. Granted none of this would have been possible without my mother there to support him, but I'll save that for another post.

I will always appreciate his voicemails. My favorite one is still the one in which in sang (tune: Mickey Mouse song) "M-I-C-K-E-Y   M-O-U-S-E........LARRIVEE, LARRIVEE. and if you call me, maybe I'll pick up the phone, but if I don't I'll call you anyway. LARRIVEE, LARRIVEE.

I will appreciate when he knows he will not win in an argument against the 4 women in the house and he sits back with his hands folded across his round stomach, feet crossed out in front of him. He drags a deep sigh of air before he declares "aw, shit" and then lets the argument die. I chuckle now when I think about the chaos this has caused in our house.

There are so many statistics of fatherless in our country, it is an epidemic, a tragedy. I am blessed every day to say my father desires to have a place in my life. I regret to confess I don't always make room for him there. I am thankful for him and his crazy antics and words of wisdom from growing up in the 1940's that he tries to apply to my life now in 2013. I am thankful for our differences, for the growth we can make together.  I am so blessed to be able to call my Dad and say "Happy Father's Day Daddy". I pray I never take this for granted.

happy fathers day ed, maybe one day you'll learn to turn on a computer so you can read this, I mean that in the most sincere, nicest way possible.

Monday, May 13, 2013

a social media respite

I can remember where I was sitting when I heard the word "facebook". It was my junior year of college. The exclusive website was only available to those lucky enough to be in college at the time. Now I could stalk whoever I wanted with zero consequences. Genius.

Slowly facebook started getting weird. "Your Mom is on facebook?!" " GRANDmom is on facebook". People were being cut from study abroad trips, they were being turned down from job opportunities all because their facebook pictures looked....questionable. Character judgements were being made through facebook profiles. I was getting invitations for farm games and candy crushes. The layout changed once (annoying), and then again (worse), and then again (unbearable), and then again.........I don't even know how to use it and I still hate the "Time line"

And then I got "friended" (which is now a word according to webster) by people who I would not recognize if I passed them in the grocery store of my very small home town. Last time I checked I am pretty good at recognizing my friends. Unless the definition of friend has changed. Lets look up the definition of friend together.

friend /frend/

A person whom one knows and with whom one has a bond of mutual affection, typically exclusive of sexual or family relations.
Add (someone) to a list of contacts associated with a social networking Web site.

Obviously the verb has been added since 2005 when facebook was created.

Don't get me wrong, I love me some time on all of the social media websites I am a part of, which is all of them. Facebook, Twitter, Blogspot, LinkedIn, Instagram, Google +. I love figuring out the connections on each site...I love figuring out connections. I love admiring pictures and publishing a witty status, i love the likes! But there comes a point when enough is enough.

My reality is now being shaped by a website that is accessible for me not only while on my computer, but on my phone when I am hanging out with real live people. These websites create an alternate reality where every one's life looks better than mine. Because I have been cursed with the gender: female, I over analyze and compare my facebook life with other's facebook lives. And my life never looks quite as fun as everyone elses. But I really like my life, a lot.....

Last night, my roommate Lindsey and I were talking about my comparison problem when she stated, "oh yea, that's a thing, comparing your life to another person's on facebook and thinking your life sucks, its called the facebook syndrome". I've got it and its bad. But if you think about it, who is going to put the ordinary everyday stuff on facebook or the terrible crap in their life; I mean if they do we naturally block them from our newsfeeds because they have now become "boring" or "depressing". Please, I have pictures to like and status' to create. Ain't nobody got time for that (YouTube syndrome).

And then there is Instagram, my love. I can't say anything negative about Instagram because I love it way too much. But I have heard it is discouraging for those who are not good at finding Instagram photo opportunities. Or for those who have not discovered the exposure button (which makes everyone a photographer).  Don't get discouraged though, just use the #VSCO camera and #hashtag the crap outta that picture! Follow me at carrielarrie. I need more affirmation.

Twitter has been a recent phenomenon for me. And I am terrible at it, you can see for yourself at @carrielarriee. I have had so many conversations about how to use it and that it's "good for the news". But I look up or the New York Times.  News done. So why twitter? I hate saying the word "twitter" and "tweet", I don't enjoy "following" others. Why am I torturing myself? But seriously, follow me @carrielarriee, I need more affirmation.

And then there is the scenario of the social gathering turned YouTube fiasco. It all starts with one person saying "Oh man, have you seen  ___________ on YouTube? You've got to see it! Hilarious! Best video ever! Viral! Let me show you". Nothing kills a conversation faster than pulling up YouTube on your phone, computer, ipad, ipad mini, kindle fire.....yikes.

Lastly, LinkedIn. One time a "hand model" added me to their professional network....a hand model, what?! his summary is as follows:

My education was mostly bogus. The only reason I graduated High school was because my dad taught at the middle school. Most of the teachers/counselors/ local politicians thought I was mental, so I was placed in that room at the back of the hallway on the other end of the school, with the rest of the loons.
Some goals: To beat the final board on all the video games where I got to the last level and punked out.
Finding another 1991 Eagle Talon only this time, treating it the way it deserves. Regular oil changes, cd player, floormats.
Specialties:My dad gave me his fishtie(Largemouth bass) and his Elvistie. I also have a specialshirt, it's the flag of Texas!

This guys LinkedIn invitation to me is still pending. I don't want to reject him, but I can't possibly include him in my "professional network", right?

Somebody help me. Technology doesn't look good on me and I tend of abuse it. So last night I said enough is enough. I hit the deactivate button on Facebook. I don't think this is permanent but its a step. Its a breath of fresh air. A respite. I have no idea what anyone else is doing, looking at, looking for, who they are hanging out with, or engaged to or how many babies they have unless of course I see them in person and have a conversation with them. I know in a couple months after a friends wedding I will have to get back on to see the pictures and dance videos, but for now I'm okay. I'm still breathing, and comparing myself a little less to...everyone on earth. 

Now the only problem is, how am I supposed to share this blog post on facebook? And more importantly, how are you supposed to Friend me now? 

Friday, April 26, 2013

behind prison walls

Working for a human services organization, you find out some weird things. Recently I learned you can be mandated to go to prison every weekend. The courts rule that if you only do drugs on the weekends then you are a danger to society, your family nd yourself ....on weekneds. Solution: go to jail every week and you will no longer be a threat to anyone. One of my co workers has a friend of a friend of a friend who spends every weekend in the local prison on state road. I guess she misses a lot of weddings.

Now a fact about me, every third Sunday I go to prison too. A couple years ago some friends of mine felt convicted to go to prisons and participate in prison ministry.  Being the must-get-involved-in-everything person I am, I knew I had to check it out too. I went once and all of the sudden the event "Prison" at 6pm every third Sunday was placed on my google calendar, repeating with no end date.

We go into the prison and fellowship together, normally there are 6-10 in our very diverse group and 100 men dressed in blue scrubs waiting for a profound message. We start with songs and begin to preach the best way we know how - with humilty and prayer.

This past Sunday I was feeling especially anxious about church in general. I have been "church hopping" now for a little under a year and I am tired. I am tired of church and expectations and not being known. But when I entered the prison and sat down in the gray plastic chairs (which are purposfully not metal) I sighed and felt at home. I have been worshipping with these guys for almost 2 years and I always learn something new when I go.

I sat next to one of prisoners playing the piano. He played a beautiful piece I would have paid to listen to all night. I closed my eyes and listened to the music as the men entered, each one shaking hands with us and each other, saying "God bless you" "Hallelujah" "Praise the Lord" and "Thanks for coming". I watched as they filtered in and got on their knees and began to pray. I listened to the music and watched the men and breathed a deep sigh of familiarity, comfort, and beauty. It was such a beautiful moment watching these "criminals" enter and then begin to sing and worship with them. The kingdom of God, the beauty in brokeness, men who know about pain, suffering and regret.

I sat and listened and smiled knowing this is what Jesus meant when he said
"For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’
Then the righteous will answer him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?'
And the King will answer them, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.'"
(Matthew 25.35-40)

Loving others doesn't have to be pretty or perfect, and sometimes its scary; but i think regret is much more scary than loving others when its hard.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

i can't make you love me....if you don't

The post is brought to you by........random, disjointed thoughts that I have....they are not connected.

Every time I hear the song "I can't make you love me" sung by Bon Iver (and sometimes when I hear Bonnie sing it), I cry.  Every...single...time... I get so emotional. I start thinking about scenarios of unrequited love I have never even experienced. My imaginary boyfriend or love of my life I have never had comes into focus and I "well" up. I fight the urge to plan out and star in a sad music video. You've all done it too. I can't help it really, it's just so beautiful and dramatic. It makes my heart ache.


A topic of my blog that has come up more than I would like is emotion. Crying over songs, stories, movies, COMMERCIALS. Uhg, this is just not me. I have written more on fighting the crying than embracing it. I have made more comments apologizing for tearing up than asking for a tissue and letting the tears flow. I have fought the emotions of being more than just a woman, but instead, human. I put my fists up brace the gut wrenching feeling of, well...anything. Mind you, it doesn't work and my emotions come out fractured and at the wrong time and towards the wrong person.

I don't think I'm alone in this. Three times this week, I heard a few friends say they used their husband/fiancé/boyfriend as a "punching bag". Ouch. Ok, not literally...but emotionally. And every time, the guy gives them space and they talk it out and all is good. But WHY do we do this in the first place?

I think it is instilled in us at a young age that we should not show weakness, and somewhere along the way we equated weakness with crying and sadness.  This makes us scared of being depressed, feeling lonely, and talking about emotion too soon. We are told to "guard our hearts" and "be strong" and there's "no use crying over spilled milk". There's not? I think its calling coping and dealing with shit that happens in our lives. Because life is hard sometimes.

Maybe I'm just getting older. And realizing in this short life, things are worth crying over. Sometimes, that's all you can do.


This past weekend I went home. Sometimes I feel suffocated by the city. The demanding life of the city wears on me. I am not good at saying no, sitting still or being alone. Which makes living in the city a perfect place for an extroverted young adult like myself. Or maybe it makes it the worst place for me. I hide here in the busyness, in the activities, in the food and drink.

I don't think being busy is bad. I think its good, and like my last post explained, it is important. But I think when you get to the point where you "have to get out" and "just need to go home", I think you've let the city infiltrate you, crush you with its weight of expectations and, dare I say, broken dreams. I get to this point about every 6 months. I think this time it was expedited by the broken wrist, surgery and starting a new job within a month. But really, those are just excuses. Because regardless of my physical state, I get burned out more often that I care to admit. And now I've admitted it, and you know.

My family yells. We are a loud, proud people and we want to be heard. I don't think this is bad, but sometimes it can get confusing. Our personalities are loud, except my mom, who is as cute, sweet and quiet as can be; but the rest of us.......whew.
So I went home to rest, and I yelled. I saw my little baby niece who is growing up way too fast and I love more than anything. She has fashioned herself with red hair and blue eyes, what a great combo. I love her, and I love my family. And apparently, I love yelling. But please, everything in moderation.

As I write this post, I still feel burned out but full. I am peaceful about it, which is weird. I have come to find that life is exhausting when you live it with your heart open; when you chose vulnerability over isolation. I have been told, as a female, to guard my heart. While this is "smart advice" and I should heed it, it is hard to do. Because when I love, speak, listen, sit, read, watch, write, invite, pray, cry - I do it all with my heart. It's hard to keep my firsts up for that long.

I was watching a TED talk (gosh, I love them) about being vulnerable. The wonderful PhD woman said that we numb ourselves so that we do not feel pain, sadness, guilt etc. And that makes sense. But you cannot selectively numb. When you numb the bad parts of life, you numb the good ones too - love, vulnerability, happiness, contentment. You guard yourself, you heart from feeling anything when you skip over the bad feelings. So I just feel everything. And it makes me tired. But it makes me full too. And I will argue this point with my dear, big-brother-like-friend, John, to the death of the subject. But we will never agree.

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.” CS Lewis

Perspective. I don't love the right way or well, but I'm trying. I'm trying to give up the control of everything going perfectly. Of making everyone happy. Of thinking my life should look different than it does, or that I have to fix be someone I'm not.

I try, but I can't make you love me, if you don't.

Monday, February 25, 2013

thinking about justice

This weekend I met a guy.

...thousands of them, and girls too.  Now I have your attention, no doubt, good.

What I really mean is, this weekend I went to the justice conference in Philadelphia with thousands of men and women.  In order to process everything I experienced, I wrote a post when I came home Friday night, and another on Saturday and yet another on Sunday night after processing even more. I erased all of them. I don’t think that I have ever erased a post in its entirety before, but this weekend was a total mind F for me in so many ways. Its hard to process having all of the emotions of guilt, shame, sadness, hope and joy over the same topics.

I was talking to a new friend at one point during the weekend, and in passing he mentioned, “I think in song lyrics”. And my response was that “I think in narrative”. In fact, I have been writing and re-writing this post in my head for about 3 days. While I am driving or staring or when I should be listening, I am usually starting a new piece of writing in my head. Thinking through things.  When I hear about a person's story or when I replay conversations, it usually concludes in the form of a story. Weird, I know, but ask me how I remember your name sometime and you will discover my thought patterns are weird on all sorts of levels.

I was thinking about the conversation, and how thought patterns occur differently for everyone, in between being inundated with the harsh reality of talks on topics such as sex trafficking, immigration, racial injustice, and poverty. As I sat in the bleacher seating, I was thinking, writing, crying and these thoughts rolled over me almost like a dream....

And who shall I blame for this sweet and heavy trouble?
For every stupid struggle?
I don't know.
I could buy you a drink.
I could tell you all about it.
I could tell you why I doubt it, and why I still believe.

But I can't say it like I sing it.
And I can't sing it like I think it.
And I can't think it like I feel it.
And I don't feel a thing.
Oh no - I don't feel a thing.
And who shall I blame for this sweet and heavy trouble?

They were song lyrics (thanks pedro the lion). I think in song lyrics too, but also in narrative and in hopelessness and in a depth that makes my heart groan and stomach churn. I think, therefore I am, right? No. It feels like no one does think anymore. Because if they thought, I hope they would do. And no one does anymore. We hole up in our worlds of comfort and stability and we stay there. Or maybe, its not that no one "thinks" anymore its that no one "knows".

This weekend, the speakers brought to light a couple things to think about...

“Good is the enemy of great” - Jim Collins
“Everyone wants to change humanity, but no one wants to change themselves” - Tolstoy by way of Ken (iforgethislastname) 

“We can’t do everything, but we can do something”
“We (the church) are walking with purpose, in the wrong direction” - Brenda Salter McNeil

“There are currently 27 million PEOPLE held in slavery today” - Gary Haugen

“Mercy triumphs over judgment”
“The closer we are to God, the less we want to throw stones at people (John 8:1-11). God is in the business of loving people, sinners, back to life” - Shane Claiborne

“There have been 400 million babies killed since 1978 for being born a girl in China. Because of this, 500 women take their lives everyday there as well” - Chai Ling

“There are 11.5 million undocumented immigrants living in the US, 95 % of all the immigrants will never step foot in an American home”
“”The word immigrant appears 92 times in the bible, and it is constantly linked together with fatherless,widow and the poor, meaning we must help every group and not treat immigrants like actual aliens”. - Jenny Yang & Matt Soerens.

Over 24 million children live absent of their biological father.
90% of all homeless and runaway children are from fatherless homes
80% of rapists motivated by displaced anger come from fatherless homes
75% of all adolescent patients in chemical abuse centers come from fatherless homes
71% of all high school dropouts come from fatherless homes
63% of youth suicides are from fatherless homes
85% of all youths sitting in prison today grew up in a fatherless home

I think about these quotes  and facts from the weekend, and so many more and it stirs something up in me. I do not have the answers, and in fact, that is why I erased my first three posts of self righteousness and condemnation for those not “doing” enough. But I am encouraged to think, fast and pray about the injustice happening worldwide to human beings. The ones who cannot speak for themselves. And my hope is that out of these thoughts will spring action, not out of guilt but, instead, out of love.

And so I will leave this post well enough alone, ending with quotes, song lyrics, movies, and website links in order to serve every sort of thought pattern.

“Rarely do we find men who willingly engage in hard, solid thinking. There is an almost universal quest for easy answers and half-baked solutions. Nothing pains some people more than having to think.” - MLKJr

Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it's thinking of yourself less. - CS Lewis

This is what the LORD says: Be fair-minded and just. Do what is right! Help those who have been robbed; rescue them from their oppressors. Quit your evil deeds! Do not mistreat foreigners, orphans, and widows. Stop murdering the innocent! - Jeremiah 22:3

Oh, falling leaves should curse their branches
For not letting them decide where they should fall
And not letting them refuse to fall at all
David Bazan

Don't lose your soul as your eyes roll shut
Don't worry, it will be over
Hold on though, you're alone, I am there with you
That much at least I can promise you
You know what's to come to not accept this
Don't lose your soul, you must fight for each breath
Don't go quietly

David Roch

Your sadness it is quite lovely
But it is the sadness of a slave
Why don't you give yourself a rest
Give yourself some room
You can't get your arms round everybody
You cannot carry the doom...
AA Bondy

There is a design, an alignment to cry
Of my heart to see,
The beauty of love as it was made to be
Love; it will not betray you
Dismay or enslave you, it will set you free
Be more like the man you were made to be
Mumford & Sons

"Why can't you be happy
You make me feel helpless when you get this way"
I said "I'm up to my neck in alligators
Jaws gnashing at me
Each one trying to pull a piece away"
Darling, you can't slay these beasts of prey
Some bad dreams even love can't erase
But in France they say
Love puts on a new face
Love has many faces
Joni Mitchell

Everything that I said I'd do
Like make the world brand new
And take the time for you
I just got lost and slept right through the dawn
And the world spins madly on

I let the day go by
I always say goodbye
I watch the stars from my window sill
The whole world is moving and I'm standing still

Woke up and wished that I was dead
With an aching in my head
I lay motionless in bed
The night is here and the day is gone
And the world spins madly on
The Weepies

All it takes is a little faith, and a lot of heart - The weepies

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