An Extremely Late Post

With my ever-elusive twenty-first birthday finally around the corner I’ve been thinking a lot about my past year. Since turning 20 I gained friends and lost others, broke my own heart and had my heart broken, got a new phone, new tattoo, lots of new shoes and more than anything: new lessons. I went to Hard Summer, Nocturnal, Escape, Audiotistic, Countdown, and Cocahella. I’ve seen Fleetwood Mac, Brockhampton, Blue Face, met Cody Ko, started (& graduated from) intensive therapy, watched my best friend graduate and laughed (& cried)… a lot.

When the clock strikes midnight on my twenty-first birthday I’ll be with my best friend at Odesza’s finale show — after missing their shows three times and eventually accepting that seeing the Moment Apart a tour was simply, impossible. It’s a sugary sweet way to bring in what I hope will be an equally sweet year. I am excited to keep growing and exploring this amazing life in the coming year. In the end I am nothing if not Cody Ko’s biggest fan so without further ado —  here are 12 things I learned while being 21. (I know, I know but I didn’t learn 21 insightful things this year. I learned like how to button pants to make them tighter and how to sell clothes online but I don’t think those things are worth writing a blog post about.) (If you want to learn more about either of those topics hit me up though and we can discuss.)

  1. You already have everything you need, you just have to believe it

This was a big one for me and basically changed my entire perspective on life. I know, groundbreaking. It seems like a simple idea but it’s a powerful thing to truly believe that your capabilities stretch as far as your own imagination. Own your power.

2. Protect your energy

So now that you know that you have this amazing galaxy of endless possibilities within you don’t you want to take care of those little stars? Some people might not be looking for your energy at the time — that’s fine. Some people want to drain your energy without offering any in return — cut that off. Surrounding yourself with positive people will always put you in a better mood than hanging around people who exude negativity.

3. You are not your emotions

Another radical, life-changer here. I used to fly over my emotional handlebars about any little thing. Spilled milk would devastate me, an argument would obliterate my self-worth — I was volatile and dangerous, mostly to myself. I explained this issue to my therapist and she looked at me and said, “you have the power to control how you feel,” as if it was obvious. I doubted her and told her that was hard, potentially even impossible. She responded with “you only say it’s hard because you haven’t thought to try it,” and she was right (obviously). You’ll never be able to control what happens to you but you can always choose how you react. If you don’t want you life to be devastated by a small inconvenience then don’t let it be. If you don’t want to be lonely, then see it as quality time with yourself instead. You can make as much positivity as you want — the good news is that it’s free.

4. The only way to truly love yourself is to truly be yourself

I used to be terrified of drawing attention to myself and the thought of being noticed made my palms clammy. I wore unassuming clothes and shied away from most social interaction. I had a constant monologue in my head telling me that my hand placement was weird or my eye contact was awkward or my walk was funny. It was exhausting and miserable. But ever since I’ve been fostering positivity I’ve been wearing what I want, laughing loudly, meeting new people and dancing when I walk. And what if people don’t like it? Well I don’t really care because that’s none of my business. My business is my happiness and my happiness alone and I will never again stop doing something that makes me happy to try win over the opinions of others.

5. There is always someone if you need someone

This is one I’m still looking at the flashcards for some days but I’ve been trying. I didn’t have many close friends before college so a lot of the time I still feel very lone wolf about my issues but I’m trying to be more open. People love you and there is always someone willing to give a hug and a listening ear. Talking about it really does help.

6. Don’t be so hard on yourself

On my journey of healing (I know, I know, yoga guru here I come) I was often frustrated at my slip ups and set backs. It’s hard to see the bigger picture in the moments where you’re sobbing on your bathroom floor and feel right back where you started but the progress is still there. Mental health is tricky and the brain is the slipperiest eel in the whole ocean — it can be hard to hack the computer that literally programs your entire being. But that’s okay. Because as long as you remember that you are on a journey towards positivity, the days will get easier. And the tears will stop and you’ll dust off your knees and keep going.

7. The good times don’t last

But that’s okay. Because the bad ones don’t either. My advice for the good ones is to write it down, take a picture, try really hard to soak it all in. Let the moment change your life. Relax your shoulders from your neck and imagine you’re exhaling all the bad things that happened before that moment. Let it be transformative and special because it’s your life — anything can be noteworthy. And that’s the story of how my life changed at Coachella while walking through the rainbow tower (lol).

8. If you love something, dedicate time to it

This seems like common sense but when people get busy it tends to be the first thing that’s forgotten. Love only grows when watered. I used to think I had nothing to dedicate my time to because I don’t have what some would call “traditional hobbies”. I don’t play sports or video games and have fallen significantly off my reading books for fun game. But there are things I love. I love music, so once a week I dedicate a couple hours of my time to sitting down and seeking out new music. I also take the time each morning to have a dance party in my room each morning before getting ready. The dance party sometimes involves working out, sometimes not. Either way, starting every day doing something that I love makes me happy and affects my mood throughout the entire day.

9. People will treat you exactly how you think you deserve to be treated

Okay maybe not 100% of the time (there’s always that one asshole) but generally speaking. If you think you’re not worth anything, people are going to treat you accordingly. The only way to avoid getting trampled is to stand up for yourself and what you deserve. No one else is going to do it for you. Like I said earlier, own your power.

10. Time alone is crucial to a good relationship with yourself

My ex boyfriend would be laughing hysterically if he ever read this but here it is in writing — you were right. One day I woke up and it suddenly clear to me: if you need to spend time with a friend to have a good relationship then why don’t we treat ourselves the same way? The more time you spend with yourself doing things that make you genuinely happy (for example: singing in the shower, doing your makeup, eating an entire bag of hot cheetos in bed at 3 am, etc.), the more you’ll enjoy it and want to do it more often. Every morning and night I take a couple hours to myself to relax and do the things that I want to do, exactly how I want to do them. And I can finally say that I now truly do enjoy being alone.

11. It’s okay to not have it all figured out

This is one I’m still having trouble believing but people keep saying it to me and it keeps working out so I guess there’s something to it. Appreciate the process and don’t rush too much to the finish line. Whatever is meant to be will be and everything happens for a reason. These popular maxims all seem to have the same undertone that reassures us that there is a plan for our lives and the universe will relentlessly move us towards that path.

12. It’s okay to eat cheetos for dinner

Obviously. Also when dipped in nacho cheese you can add the element of heat which is makes it then consistent with traditional dinners.

Opening Up About Mental Health

This is something I’ve been struggling with the idea of for a couple weeks but I think being on the upswing is as good a time as any to finally do this. I am finally taking my mental health seriously and getting help in all areas of my life. And I have to say- it’s working. And it’s working really well at that. I am not pretentiously stating that I am healed and I am the savior for those who are still healing. That isn’t the case at all- I am still healing and still learning. I still have bad days and hard days but my perspective of them has changed. I now know that there is always progress being made and I am willing to put in the work to see those changes. I now know that it’s okay if I still cry now and then about what has happened to me these past weeks. Because I finally believe that the hurt will pass and better things will replace it. I know that it is incredibly difficult to stay positive amongst all the pain of the world but here’s how I’ve been going about it.

 

Therapy:

My weekly therapy sessions have been one of the most influential things on my journey of healing. Admitting how hurt and broken I was terrified me, and opening up about it was even scarier. But her advice, guidance, and perspective have opened my mind to new ways of healing. One thing that has really impacted my life is her idea that the mind, body, and spirit are all connected. When one is hurting, they are all hurting and when one is strengthening, they all are. It is important to nurture all three elements so that one doesn’t strain itself trying to carry the dead weight of another. Overall, she’s helped me learn to not be so hard on myself and that has completely changed my outlook on my journey of healing.

Appreciating myself:

This seems like common sense but taking this seriously and being mindful in these moments has transformed how I go about my day. I thank myself for every single thing I do for myself. Whether it’s brushing my teeth or buying a smoothie- I am constantly acknowledging all the little ways I love myself. Taking time out of my day to do these things has also been influential. In between classes I sit in the grass and write and, in the mornings I make sure to give myself enough time to see my roommates before I leave. Making time for these small moments of joy throughout the day has changed how I go about my day and my attitude throughout it. These things have helped me realize my value and the confidence to no longer accept a lesser standard than I deserve.

Fueling my mind, body, & spirit:

I have always been a snacker and I have finally accepted that this will likely always be the case. However- switching my snacks to healthier alternatives like multi-grain crackers and dried seaweed has made my body feel stronger and less lethargic. Also adding a smoothie into my diet as a mid-day alternative to coffee has helped me feel refreshed without the added jitters from caffeine. I have also started working out daily, as a concentrated time spent purely on bettering myself. It is incredible how much going to the gym has improved my mood, cleared my mind and helped me find my confidence again.

Cutting out multi-tasking:

There are certain things that require multi-tasking such as cooking or taking notes while listening in class. However, there are certain things that require our full-attention yet, we are reluctant to give it. This is because society has trained us to believe that the ultimate achievement is productivity. Because our brains are used to working on four things at once, when you try to focus on just one, you may feel your mind floating away to think of three other things. Overworking our brain repeatedly creates a pattern of anxious thoughts and it limits our ability to be mindful. I am making small changes to try and train my brain to slow down and give each moment 100% of my attention. It’s almost impossible to have a tirade of negative self-talk when you’re so focused on the positive aspects of a moment. Every day I have a ten-minute walk from where I park my car to my class. When my life was falling apart I spent this walk anxiously worrying and often it lead to me crying before I even made it to class. Now, I make a conscious effort on this walk to just enjoy my music and literally smell the flowers. And you know what? I haven’t cried before class in weeks.

Absorbing affirmative media:

This is a smaller task but I think it’s a helpful one, nonetheless. I listen to a variety of music and read a variety of media. I’ve noticed that when I read poems or listen to songs that I relate to, I feel so much more hopeful. It is so comforting to hear a lyric that makes you realize that someone has been where you’re standing and they made it out alive. I have been listening to and reading things by artists who have struggled with mental illness and it helps to know it is possible to be productive through the pain. There is such great art that has been made from the darkest pains and this has inspired me to work through my own pain in a productive way. Also, there are so many great podcasts that deal with mental health and many are made by successful businesswomen. Their advice and perspective have been super beneficial for me.

The biggest change I have made is my perspective and that was accomplished through all the above steps. Struggling with mental health has been the hardest challenge of my life but to finally be able to say that I am making serious and permanent changes makes me feel so proud. When faced with the task of “feeling better,” the sheer vastness of the problem is at odds with the implied simplicity of the solution. This is an overwhelming task and it is so hard to want an immediate solution that simply, doesn’t exist. Every single day I fight, from the moment I wake up, to the moment I go to bed to remember to be mindful in all things. It is hard work and it is constant work but the results are undeniable. I haven’t felt this much like myself in years. I’m writing with passion again, I’m excited about taking care of myself and, I’m inspired constantly. There are still bad days but now I know that my life is still hopeful and exciting regardless. To anyone struggling with mental health: don’t give up. It is okay to start broken, scared and beaten. Just start, from wherever you are and keep moving forward. I promise, it will get easier.

Friendship

Every morning when I wake up to the sounds of my best friends down the hall, I feel like it’s a dream that I never want to wake up from. This past year was the first time in my life where I truly feel like I’ve found my people. It’s not something I often talk about, but before college I always felt distant from the people in my life and although they had the best intentions, I couldn’t help but feeling a little “off” from them. But this year, I have found people who truly always know what I need to hear and know when to push me or to pull me in. Spending time with them energizes me rather than exhausting me and friendships like that are truly rare in this life. Going through life with these people gives me a constant support system that I’ve never felt before outside of my family. We all share the same values and sense of humor but are drastically different without clashing.

This year held some of the highest highs and lowest lows that I’ve ever known and the stakes only seem to grow more serious as we get older. There were nights where Isabel made me sleep over because she didn’t want me to be alone and days when Jenne snuck me into the dining hall so I wouldn’t have to face going home to an empty apartment. Troy has the quickest and most thoughtful text responses I’ve ever seen and Izzy always knows the EXACT right thing to say. Maria is the best at distracting me from the sad thoughts with laugh-track tv shows and David is the only person who can truly get me to “chill out”. I’d never wanted to be with a large group of girls more than wanting to be alone before this year that consisted of nights spent with all seven of us snuggled in Isabel’s bed. We’ve talked about the things one never says aloud and have been there to hold each other when the words bring tears. We push each other to try new things and are there every step of the way in case it gets scary. These are the girls I’ve cried with until 3 am and danced with until 5am. It’s hard to watch someone go through something that you know won’t work out in the long run. The best friends in the world are the ones who understand that you have to see it through for yourself and even if they don’t agree with your choices along the way, they’re right there for whatever comes after. “We’re in this together, whatever you go through, I go through too.”

The best times of my life have been this year and I’ll never forget the McDonalds trips after some of the worst times. I truly believe lasting friendships are built in these moments because there is nothing more heartbreaking than coming to a friend in need of help only to be told that you’re a burden. I thank God every day for finding me friends that not only accept this burden without turning their back on me, but do so with an, “of course, that’s what friends are for.”

Living with some of these incredible people makes the mundane tasks of everyday fun. One of the first mornings of us all being in the house we all piled in Isabel’s bed and planned out the errands we had to run and I can honestly say, I’ve never had so much fun grocery shopping in my life. Home isn’t about a place, it’s about people. I feel so incredibly blessed to be able to live with some of these people and I can’t wait to see what this year has in store for us.

p.s. special thanks to girl gang, maria and david for ALWAYS answering when I want to FaceTime

p.p.s. special special thanks to Isabel for hugging me when my mom was too far away to do it herself

My Most Complete Love

Question:

What do you call a cow with no legs?

Punchline:

Ground beef

 

I was brainstorming on what my first post of 2018 should be and suddenly the answer was annoyingly clear: the thing that drove me to start this blog in the first place… writing. The truest love I have ever known.

My love for writing and my insatiable desire to pursue it constantly has always been a fact of who I am as much as my name is Caitlin Carr. I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember – and yes, I know that’s cliche and incredibly cheesy but it really is true. I have always written to fulfill this deep chasm inside of me. I scribble and type tirelessly and then pitch the pages into this darkness in the hopes that one day I will run to it and see my efforts have made it shallow, habitable enough to wade into. So far, this has been a fruitless venture but still, my hunger to fill the pages still persists. I have always been a fidgety person who struggles to truly do nothing – the idea of a completely empty day sounds more maddening than relaxing to me. Throughout my life, I have found a variety of activities to keep me busy (working out, dance, photography) but there has never been anything that comes close to the satisfaction of writing. Starting with a bright white page that feels like staring into the sun and then covering it in lines of text, has always been the greatest joy I have found.

The best advice I can give to any aspiring writer is to read. Read all the time, read anything you can get your hands on, read as if it’s as essential as breathing because, for you, it should be. In the poignant words of Stephen King, “Reading at meals is considered rude in polite society, but if you expect to succeed as a writer, rudeness should be the second-to-least of your concerns. The least of all should be polite society and what it expects. If you intend to write as truthfully as you can, your days as a member of polite society are numbered, anyway.” I’ve often learned as much, if not more, from terrible books as the best ones. When I see glaringly annoying idiosyncrasies in writing, it makes it that much more clear to me what I DON’T want to do and sometimes this is a great jumping off point. Incredible writing often puts me in such a state of awe that I have to take a couple days before I can attempt to integrate what I learned into my writing without being intimidated. Either way, reading other people’s writing will always teach you something that you could not have learned in the vacuum of your own style and ideas.

Writing is a tricky beast that demands the sinking of a lot of free time. It is a private and personal thing which means it can be easy to neglect. I tend to agree that it is indeed much more fun to go out and be social rather than locking yourself in your room with only your laptop for company, but such is the sacrifice that has to be made. It’s a lesson that I’ve learned the hard way more times than I would like to admit but your writing will never improve unless you make time for it as if it was a normal 9-5 job. Writing is a craft that demands a lot mentally and requires a lot of self-motivation. Some find it helpful to set aside specific hours to write but for me, it is a more visceral experience than anything else and to truly enjoy it I have to go into it excited. Music has been my greatest aid in this venture – I cannot even begin to list all the times I listened to a single song for hours simply because it gave me a feeling that I wanted to capture on paper and I didn’t want to lose it before I had adequately written all I had to say.

The main lesson I learned about writing in 2017 is that your imagination is a muscle as much as your bicep. It is more tricky to pin down and snarls a bit more when poked, but it is a muscle nonetheless. It will wither into ash if left unattended and it will not serve you unless you return the favor. If kept well-fed and allowed to run about in the fresh air, it will repay you in ways you could have never foreseen as possible. One of my favorite ways of doing this is travel. For me, there is no better spark of motivation than breaking out of my daily routine to experience something new. And don’t take this to mean it has to be a flight away either, road trips or even just taking your laptop to a new coffee shop are often more than enough to put that first sentence on the page.

I could fill an oceans-worth of pages all about what writing has done for me

Tattoos and Body Image

Question:

What kind of bagel can fly?

Punchline:

A plain bagel.

As is with most people I have had an up and down relationship with body image over the years. There have been days where I loved how I look and days where I didn’t want to step outside. A few years ago I finally took a deep breath and applied the same aggressively optimistic approach that I adopt in most situations that are outside of my control and essentially said to myself, “this is the body you have so you might as well be happy with it.” Since then I have felt mostly indifferent towards my body – I neither actively loved nor actively hated it. This, however, changed last Spring when I got my first tattoo. I suddenly found myself loving the skin I was in and wanting to show it off.

I will always hold that the best compliments are those about tattoos because they are one of the only things that are both permanently on your body and also chosen by you. They can hold significance or beauty or both and they will (most likely) last forever. People can compliment your eyes or your legs all day long but the fact is that there was never a specific moment when you decided that you wanted them as a part of you. Tattoos are chosen and created and eventually it feels as though they’ve always been there. Whenever people ask me if I get tired of mine, I ask them if they ever get tired of their pinky finger because to me, the ever-presence is the same.

My tattoos have given me a new sense of ownership over my skin and my body. They remind me that is my life and I have to be an assertive force in it rather than just taking a back seat and watching it pass me by. I think they are beautiful and they make me feel beautiful and quite frankly it makes me feel a tiny bit badass when people ask if it hurt and I shrug and answer honestly “not really.”

Living in Gratitude

Question:

How much room is needed for fungi to grow?

Punchline:

As mushroom as possible.

 

In June I was working in a cubicle at an engineering company and felt endlessly unsatisfied. No matter how much I put in the hours at the gym before work, no matter what I bought with my paycheck or what my bank account said I felt like the days were simply passing me by. Then one day on my lunch break I went to the mall across the street and bought a new notebook. I had every intention of using it as a normal journal until I sat down that night to write in it. I realized that I never stay consistent with journals because it is simply too much work at the end of the day and I knew this notebook would be no different. It would get it maybe half filled and then it would join the other party completed bound pages on my bookshelf. So instead, I used my notebook for a new idea I had: three bullet points of things that went well that day. I have done this every night since then and I know the notebook will be filled long before next June.

It works because it’s easy. At most, it takes five minutes so there is never a worthy excuse to not do it. On really good days I write more than three things and that way it is kind of like a journal in the documentation aspect. Besides, who wants to read their old journals just to relive how upset you were? We should be remembering the good things about life. There have certainly been days when it was difficult to think of three good things that happened but I have never written down less than three. The important thing to realize that good things can be as small as eating your favorite cereal in the morning or as big as going on a road trip with your best friends. The whole point is to start looking for the good in everything, in every day.

I absolutely cannot recommend this exercise enough. I promise that after a month you will truly see the world at least a little differently.

My Night Routine

A guy walks into a bar … and sustains a mild concussion.

 

 

Hello dear readers – long time no type. It’s been a crazy month or so here at school dealing with moving, sorority recruitment and the general housekeeping that comes with starting a new school year. I have not had the time I want to be able to make quality posts for this blog and I would rather take longer to make something I’m proud of than put out sub-par material quicker. Hopefully, that hiatus will be a rarity rather than the rule and I’ll be able to dedicate the time I want to this project going forward. About a month ago I started a new nighttime routine that has really kept my skin clear and on some days even glowing so I thought it would be fun to share. Enjoy!

  1. I take my makeup off with Son & Park Beauty Water on a cotton round. If I have a heavier eye look to take off then I use an almost excessive amount of this and hold the cotton pad to my eye for a few seconds – the mascara will easily melt off.
  2. Twice a week I use the Mario Badescu Strawberry Tonic Face Mask. I love this mask because it smells amazing, is a nice thin texture and I see the effects on my skin immediately.
  3. I use the Mario Badescu Drying Lotion on any breakouts. This stuff is super strong which is apparent from the smell and tends to work quite well.
  4. Next up is the Mario Badescu Ceramide Herbal Eye Cream. I love the thicker texture of this because I always get dry spots around my eyes which irritate me throughout the day if I don’t properly care for them at night.
  5. I then use Caudalie Eau De Raisin facial spray to give my skin a light layer of moisture. I also spray this on my neck because that’s where I always forget to lotion after my shower.
  6. While the facial spray absorbs into my skin I put Carols Daughter Hair Milk Refresher Spray into my hair. This keeps my hair silky soft which is a deceivingly difficult task since my hair is wavy and tends to dry out pretty easily.
  7. Lastly, I spread a thin layer of Formula 10.0.06 P.M. Perfecto Overnight Hydrating Cream all over my face except my eyes. This night cream is the perfect balance of thick moister while still letting my skin breathe. I also love the blackcurrant & licorice smell of this since most of my routine leans towards citrus notes.

While I do all this I usually light a candle (Autumn from Bath & Body Works is my current favorite) and listen to music (currently loving the “Jazz for Sleep” playlist on Spotify).