Tuesday, May 22, 2018

are you living your life like a second person narrative?

hey you

you're really free

you're more free than you think you are.

with the exception of stealing a dragon or raiding a candy store (in this example, those two probably aren't mutually exclusive), you can do just about whatever you want.

are you stuck?

have you arrived at the universe and found a one way sign? pointing back the other way? you're pressed up against a fence. you're breathing too hard in zero gravity and it's really dark.

you've come to the only conclusion and it's disappointing to you.  this is a black and white script. you thought you were the author but you're the stage directions. you don't get to decide where you're going.  

are you living your life like a second person narrative? 

the thing is: you weren't born with an instruction manual.  but you picked one up along the way, anyway, and now you're stuck and now it's your religion. 

society is writing your book in second person, future tense, and you think you're the protagonist. 


what if there isn't an ending?


i mean, what if you aren't working towards some predetermined goal. what if this isn't a hero's journey? what if there's no pressure on you to perform, no goal for you to reach at the end of the day what if you aren't a character in this book at all?

i'm not saying you aren't a hero.
you are magic. 
you are everything powerful and i believe in you. 

i'm saying:
stop writing poetry that rhymes
stop answering rhetorical questions 
there is no peak to your mountain
and if there was, you'd never know when you reached it

you aren't trapped between two covers. this isn't a fairytale.
and before that sounds like something tragic, like i'm destroying your childhood, stop for a moment and think:

you are more than fiction. 
you have more than one possible ending.
you don't have to follow a script.
it's okay if you forget all of your lines.

if you want to, you can write the fairytale. 

and what am i saying, actually?

i'm telling you to believe in yourself.  i'm telling you to trust that if you take a step out onto a metaphorical bridge built of dreams and passion and hard work and possibly unicorn poop, that bridge is going to hold your weight. 

i'm saying, go for that dream job. go to college and study whatever the heck you want to learn. go backpacking this weekend.  open infinite doors.  go buy a cute lil flower plant, and keep it alive the best you can.  discover there weren't infinite doors– 

just infinite doorways.

do things that matter to you.  because if what you're doing doesn't matter to you, there's no one else for it to matter to.  everyone can do stuff fulfill themselves. it's not up to you to reach someone else's happy quota. 

that's not how happy quotas even work, silly. in the end, you care the most about your own path, and you're the only person who can get yourself to where you want to be.  

it's not too late. it's not ever too late. just look in the closest imaginary mirror and say to yourself, hi self, i believe in you. 

bam. from now on, you're doing this. whatever you wanted to do (minus the dragons and the candy story), you're doing it.

you're so much more free than you thought you were. 

i believe in you too

 – cm ♥

Saturday, May 5, 2018

the problem with "i can do anything"

I realized something recently.

For the most part, I grew up believing that I could be whatever I wanted to be. If I could dream it up, I could do it. And I followed that to college, where I'm studying Creative Writing and figuring out how to balance dreaming and working hard to make those dreams happen. It's going pretty well.

Except for one thing.  I think I'm invincible.  I operate like I can do anything and more importantly, everything, and that expectation makes it really hard to say 'no' to things. It makes it hard to take breaks, and it makes it hard to justify giving less than 100% at any given moment.

People...have been trying to explain this to me for a long time. If you're one of those people, you might be reading this post and saying "geez wow yay she's finally is starting to figure it out".  Yup. :) And thank you. Thanks to every single person who's ever told me to take a break, to slow down, and that I deserve rest. I know I've been...resistant. xD

What I've realized is this: I'm often told: "You can't do it all" or "You can't do everything". And my brain logically fires back that yes, I can do it all, what are you talking about.  It goes like this:

Me: *overwhelmed*
Person: wow, you seem overwhelmed. you should take a break.
Me: wat
Person: you're doing too much, pls stahp
Person: but no yeah i think you're doing too much
Me: no such thing

[repeat conversation for a decade, insert a new person every year or so]

I think I'm invincible.

And ironically, that's done me a lot of damage.  The thing is, humans are resilient. We adjust to pain, we survive against all odds – while we might suffer, we can go through a lot before we crash. My logic has always been that yes, I can do just about anything. I'm still alive and breathing, right?  I rarely find a limit, so I just keep adding stuff in as long as it fits into my obscenely busy schedule. As if time conflicts is the only limit. I keep saying yes to commitments, telling myself that I can do it, so I should.

Tonight I realized that there's a second part to the phrase "you can't do everything". That second, implicit half is vital.  

You can't do everything and be okay at the same time. 
You can't do everything and be peaceful.
You can't do everything and keep up your mental and physical and emotional health.
You can't do everything and stay passionate about it all.
You can't do everything without sacrificing something very important. 

I realized that if I'm not enjoying what I'm doing, all the sacrifices that happen to make it possible...aren't really worth anything. Maybe I'm blasting through each day with an insane level of productivity and success and ambition. But that kind of thing needs fuel. And if I'm not taking breaks, that fuel comes straight from other places, like my mental health.

So...yes. I can do everything. 

But not without making heavy sacrifices. 

I used to be okay with the side effects of a busy, constant life.  I wouldn't let depression, anxiety, or exhaustion be excusing for slowly down.  Now, I'm starting to realize that I don't want to sacrifice myself for this cause anymore. I want to be okay with resting. I want to find success and happiness in taking care of myself, instead of just reaching the day's finish line with the longest list of accomplishments.

I want to find balance.

–Caroline ♥

Are you invincible? In which parts of your life are you pushing yourself too hard?  Take a breath today. Maybe you can do 'everything', but that doesn't mean you should. No one is asking you to do that.  

Friday, March 30, 2018

ask me literally anything aka AMA aka TWITTER PARTY

Dear Caroline...


What's been the best and worst part of college so far?

If I just bought a fish, what should I name it?

When's your most productive time of day to write?

*      *     * 

I'm going to be mysterious and not answer any of these questions in this blog post. BUT–

These would all be GREAT questions to ask me TOMORROW at the Twitter party!

What Twitter party, you shout, desperate for answers?

I CAN answer that question.  Joshua C. Forrest, my wonderful composer friend, is hosting an AMA (Ask Me Anything) tomorrow, March 31st at 7pm US CST with the hashtag #JCFPatreon. There will be questions. There will be answers. There will also be two more wonderful people, Aimee Meester and Carly Racklin!  They'll be talking about some of their recent projects (an Irish mob novella and a medieval fantasy novella, respectively). Aimee is also the writer and producer of The Bright Eyes Podcast, so if you're still wondering where Milo is, be on Twitter at 7pm sharp.  She'll be there, cornered, no place to hide, and you'll finally get your burning questions answered.

Speaking of current projects, I am going to answer the first question I asked at the beginning of the post, hehe.

PROJECT CANVAS was co-founded with Olivia Rogers in February 2017. We wanted to create a book of writing advice/motivation/inspiration for teen and young adult writers. After a little brainstorming, we decided to combine writing-craft-book with anthology, and we started looking for people who were interested in contributing a chapter to the project. The global writing community responded faster than we could have imagined. By the end of the month, we had 60 young bloggers and writers, from 9 different countries, committed to writing a 'mini chapter' for Project Canvas.

Where are we now?
PROJECT CANVAS is in the final stages of editing. As we work on formatting and marketing, I've been drafting query letters to send to some independent publishers. We don't have a set release date yet since we've decided to pursue traditional publishing, but we're making progress in the meantime. Last fall, some of the contributors came together to launch the Project Canvas blog, which features posts and guest posts from many of the same people who contributed to the book!

This project has been such a cool experience. Everyone put their individual passion into what they submitted for the book, and as a young writer myself, it's the greatest thing to see the community come together from five different continents. I'm looking forward to talking more about PROJECT CANVAS at the Twitter party tomorrow, and don't forget to use #JCFPatreon to join!

Get curious! Learn about Aimee, Carly and Joshua! Prepare to interrogate us.

See you tomorrow,

Monday, January 15, 2018

I still have the same brain, after all these years

I keep thinking that I'm going to grow up and get a new brain.

When I was younger, I'd look to the future and see myself doing cool things like publishing books and maybe going to space.  I still do that, actually.  But in all those visions, I didn't have the same brain.  Like, where did it go?

Don't get me wrong; I like my brain. It's a good lil brain.  I guess it's this weird thing where I can't imagine myself in the future exactly?  It always feels like I'm a different person. But when I got to college, I was still the same person.

I still thought the same way.

And that's kind of a weird thing to me, but I guess it makes sense.  Same brain. Same thoughts. In some ways, it's disappointing.  Like whaaaaa I don't get a new brain every time I reach a new life milestone?

On a more serious note, if my brain has a habit of getting sad or scared sometimes, that's not just gonna go away all of a sudden, once I get to college. Or graduate college. But even if this is slightly disappointing, there are a few comforting things about it.

1. You're still you.

Your brain is one thing that always sticks with you. At your core, you will always be the same person. And that's good to remember, especially if you're going through a rough patch. Or when you're taking a hard exam and at least you can write down your name because you do know that.

It's helpful when you find yourself sitting there asking "who am I?" again and again.

To quote a beautiful Josh Groban song, you're still you, and nothing can ever change that. Even if you don't quite remember who you are anymore, your name hasn't changed. Deep down, you are the same beautiful you that you've always been, and life can't change that.

2. You're still growing.

Maybe you're stuck with the same brain, but that doesn't mean you can't progress.

I wrote my first story when I was starting preschool. I was probably four years old? Five? A wee little penguin.  Here it is, in its full, unedited glory. Please don't ask about the random spaces. I think I was pressing the tab key instead of the space bar, and it was all very confusing for me.

In case you don't understand my genius use of phonetics, here's a translation:

"The Big Scary Bear: I was walking in the woods and I saw a big big bar, and it really really scared me. Well, what would you do if you was were a big big bear? You would eat it and this is just what this bear did. It made me so very very scared. The end."

Umm, so what gets me every time about this one: I still remember exactly what I was thinking when I wrote this.  I remember sitting down at the computer and my mom turning me loose to type. I remember being frustrated at how long it took, how I couldn't get the spaces to line up like I wanted them to. Apparently I sensed the need to emphasize things (like the size of the bear) by repeating them.

And (perhaps the most frightening thing) I remember thinking just how amazing this story was. It was so clever. It was the longest thing I'd ever written. I was extremely proud of myself.

I'm a lot older now. I've written things that are longer than this big big bear story. I don't use all CAPS for everything now.  But more or less, I still think the same way. I have the same brain? Hopefully this is making sense. Also, even if I know how to actually spell words now, I can still be proud of myself back then. I don't have feel ashamed about my progress back then. And mostly:

You can improve. You have already.

You have climbed endless mountains and crossed countless rivers.  Take a moment and look back, see how much you've done. Celebrate that! Because it's awesome. You and your lil brain have gone through a lot together and you're still going. Maybe this moment feels like it's moving too slowly and you'll never get past it.

But you will.

You will. And you'll still be the same, beautiful person you've always been.

~Caroline ♡

Do you ever think about the fact that you still have your brain after all these years, or is it just me?  Do you remember your exact thought processes from years ago?  If you want to write a post about your first story ever and SHARE IT, link me to it in the comments!

Monday, January 8, 2018

when your new year isn't new

New Year's didn't exactly feel "new" this year.

Like that magic you feel when the calendar flips over. It just wasn't quite there this time. 2017 flowed into 2018, and the First Week of the Year feels the same as last week. I woke up January 1st with the same anxieties running through my head. The "New Year" couldn't quite erase the problems of last year. And I couldn't quite put my finger on why.  Why didn't the reset button work this time?

The question has been swimming around in the back of my head like a confused penguin all week. I haven't really stopped to think about it until now, when I was writing a letter to my fren Aimee, who makes me happy and inspired.  So this post is sponsored (unwittingly) by her.

Maybe it's this: maybe I don't need things to be "new" right now.

Maybe they are beautiful and good and right-for-me just the way they are, and maybe I just need need to learn how to fully appreciate them.

I think I just need to learn how to live the life I have right now.

For the most part, I love everything about it. I love college and I love my friends and the future is this wide open thing that I'm equal parts confident and excited about.  But at the same time, I get way too stressed about it all.

This year, I want to learn how to thrive where I am.  2017 was the "New Year".  College and emotions and new people and SO MANY THINGS HAPPENED.

2018 will be the year for making peace with it all, learning how to love it, and just living this life. :) Cause it's a good life. :)

How does your 2018 feel, and what does new mean for you?

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

2017 - 2018 - anniversary - giveaway

in a lot of ways, 2017 was the hardest year i've had. i pushed through the last semester of high school - but i graduated. i got my bilingual international baccalaureate (ib) diploma.  i was stressed out of my mind - but i'm starting to figure out how to all that. i had identity crises and existential crises just about every day - but i also learned more about who God is, and who i am. 

right now, i'm more "me" than i've ever been.

it was a year of extremes. the darkest moments and the best ones mashed up in a pocket of time, and emily was right. 

Lots of amazing stuff happened in 2018! 

One of the biggest things: I finished Blue, Black! I spent all of 2017 working on this novel and I finished it over Thanksgiving break. I'd never completed a draft of a novel on my own before this, so it was huge for me! 

I guess now is a good time to acknowledge that this post is definitely on the third day of 2018. Oh well that's fine don't worry about it xD i promise to be on time with everything else for the rest of the year hA TRICKED YA.

In the fall of 2017, I started college at the University of Iowa and i'm basically in love with it. So that's cool. ♡ I'm studying English and Creative Writing, Arts Entrepreneurship, and Philosophy YAY. I have some amazing friends already and I'm so, so thankful for them.

Gotta include those Spotify stats in there. Read: I listened to music like 24/7 this year. Sleeping at Last is LIFE.

By my wildly unreliable calculations, I wrote about 130,000 words this year, between Blue Black, blog posts, poetry, and random creative writing expeditions. That's not including journaling and school essay assignments. With those, it's probably closer to 200k.

It feels like forever ago, but I also went to the Minneapolis Young Writer's Workshop over the summer and saw the most amazing people: Aimee, Katie, Hannah, Kristana and Olivia and moreee. The conference isn't happening this year, but between the two times I've gone, it's literally changed my life.

Now is also a good time to mention that I started this post three times and couldn't figure out how to fit everything in a way that made sense so I'm still typing? It's just gonna come out and who cares? You'll get the idea, and I guess it kinda mirrors the crazy awesomeness of 2017 so yup. Go read my last post for more on this concept - which happens to be my most popular post of 2017. Most popular post ever, actually. xD

I must give another shoutout to all the Project Canvas people. I launched this project early in 2017, and there are so many awesome peopleeeee involveeeed!!!!  Some of you are probably reading this so hi I love you all, you guys are making this more amazing than I'd hoped. ♡ And for the rest, I can't wait for you to read this book! Release date is still very fuzzy, but it's scheduled for 2018. :)

Speaking of Project Canvas, we launched a blog to post writing inspiration on while we eagerly anticipate the book. And we're publishing guest posts. (Hint: the guest posts have been really awesome so far and we want more pls and thx). BUT ANYWAY we're currently having a GIVEAWAY for "Fangirl" and "Dancing on the Head of a Pen". It ends on the 5th of January at midnight. So go enter that speedily and come back to finish this post.

While we're on the topic of giveaways, let's pretend that giveaway is for my 8th blogging anniversary!

That's right - I started this bloggo (does that work the same as doggo? can it be a thing now) when I was a wee little eleven-year-old, and I had the sense to do it at midnight on New Year's Eve. So January 1st is always our bloggy birthday, and it's been 8 years!

LITTLE-SELF. look! i was even wearing a little penguin shirt hehe. 
i was a very self-aware eleven-year-old.

So here we are.  I'm not sure what 2018 will look like, but I'm excited for it. I want it to be about love - loving myself, loving everyone around me. Letting that love seep out into the world and not being afraid to let my heart explode with caring about the world. 

I want to have more courage and find more peace. I'll keep writing and doin' my thing. 

I want to remember this: that life is gonna be a mess, but it's a beautiful one. 

Thursday, December 21, 2017

ordinary is okay

hey there.

this is a smol post. this is me reminding myself that not everything has to be



that you can write blog posts by opening your computer and typing your thoughts out and sometimes – sometimes you have to be casual and spontaneous to access the deepest of revelations.  sometimes the most sincere words come out when you're sitting at the computer, typing stream-of-consciousness, not worried about the result. 

reality: i want to post on this blog more
problem: every time i think about posting, i feel pressure and can't even decide on a topic
solution: stop treating it like the declaration of independence

i started writing this post randomly, but now i'm serious about this. i really want to blog more often, but i'm so held back. so this blog is gonna change a little, maybe. i'm gonna be okay with just typing out what i think and posting it. posting without a fancy little graphic, sometimes.  just writing, journaling, giving my thoughts permission to exist.

not everything is an official document that must be signed by 56 people and framed on the wall and protected with laser technology

it's okay if it has typos

heck, i even warned you in my blog header - we're gonna have typos. and it's funny cause i'm not notorious for making typos when i type.  it goes beyond that – i think i was reminding myself that we don't have to be perfect.

who cares about typos, anyway

so this is my declaration of independence, and maybe it isn't as fancy as i would have wanted it to be.  but i think there's a lot of power in letting things be casual.  occasionally, i'll start writing a random story, just for fun.  a few pages in, i start really liking it.

"wow caroline, you might onto something. this is genius. everyone's gonna love it."

as soon as i label the thing as 'extraordinary', everything gets harder. i have to keep impressing myself.  we have Standards now, and everything i write is suddenly not-good-enough. something happens in the transition from ordinary to extraordinary.  what started out as a random, enjoyable thing now has stakes, and often times, stakes and creativity don't get along.

maybe just...let some things be ordinary. let them live their lives without recognizing them as amazing. when the time comes, you can look back and say wow, that's an extraordinary thing.

write your declarations of independence on plain white paper, and don't ask anyone to sign off until the thing is finished. for the time being, it's okay to be ordinary.

*clicks publish without making any fancy graphics and feels wildly rebellious*
~ Caroline :)

Monday, December 4, 2017


how do you breathe life into people
   not metaphorically –
how do you grasp their lungs and hold on
until they remember they are alive

how do you catch your own breath
long enough to tell them that
they are more beautiful
than you have words for
we live in the same world
so I will always be here for you

but how do you breathe life into people
I’m asking for celestial hands
while dust falls, mocking, from my lips
I am no god

so I make maps
simple words on lined paper
constellations that are more than burning stars
I leave a space for you
courageous space traveler
you will find your way home one day

Thursday, November 23, 2017

stain the page: when inspiration scares you

"let your dreams be big enough to scare you" ~arielle estoria

That's a quote from one of my favorite spoken word poets, in her poem, If I Could Tell You Anything.

But sometimes...it's really hard to do.

I skirt around the topics I’d rather not dredge up.  The things that I’d have to pull too far out of the ocean in order to get them to stay on the page.  I don’t want to turn out my heart that far. I don't want people to see. I don't want myself to see.

I’ve been doing it a lot lately.  I normally write based off of my most current emotions; the prominent joys and fears in my life at the moment.  Sooooo, when I’d rather not commit those to paper, I end up not writing very much.

Does inspiration...ever scare you?

Every time I sit down, I can only think of one thing to write.  And I refuse to write that thing down.  Because I’m scared of it. Or I think I’ve already spent enough time beating the topic to death and there’s nothing to do but just wait until my emotions move on to the next big thing.  Whatever the reason is, my reluctance to just accept the ‘inspiration’ that’s been given to me shuts everything down.  

Everything I write feels shallow and uninspired, ‘cause...it usually is. I basically just pulled it out of thin air and pieced some random, distant emotions together in place of what’s actually going on.  (That’s also the reason I almost never write poetry when I want to - only when I overflow.  Which is often enough that it’s not really a problem xD)

I’ve been thinking around this topic for a while now, but it just struck me harder than usual: what a blessing it is to be able to find inspiration in these emotions.  How valuable is writing those raw, real scenes that articulate my existence and remind others of their own?  

What am I missing by pretending the present isn’t here?

I want to start writing what’s real. Raw.  I want to write myself again, into everything I do.  Today’s Thanksgiving, and I’m thankful for words, thankful for even the present moments that feel too heavy to write down. I’m thankful for finding inspiration around me and of course, all the amazing people who love me and those who write with me.  

In the coming year, I’m going to try and give myself the opportunity to write what’s really there. I’m going to stop hiding from the emotions and ideas that feel a little too big to embrace head on.  I’m gonna dare to let those words stain my page.

Have you ever felt this way? What's keeping you from writing what's on your heart?