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'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, ‘ 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?

Saturday, September 23, 2017

This Moment, and the Next

Dear Stranger...

I don't know who you are, or what you're going through right now. Wherever you are, though, you are not alone.  If nothing else, I am sitting in this coffeeshop as I write this, hoping you have so many reasons to smile today. Either way, you're living in a moment right now. Soon, you'll be on to the next moment, and this is both a good and a bad thing.

I want to challenge you to really *live* in this moment.

If it's a good moment, love it with everything you have. Don't ignore it by worrying if the next moment will be as good. Forget that anything beyond NOW even exists, and just live in your moment.

And if it's a bad moment, remember that yes...there is a future. There will be another moment after this one. And dear stranger, I firmly believe your future will be a good one. I promise you - you haven't run out of good moments. There is light in the future and there is light in your eyes and even right now, right here - be hopeful.  ♥

Burrow deep down into the present and feel it for all it's worth.  Make peace with the darkness - get just comfortable enough that you can remind it that it can't stay forever.  Make peace with yourself - admit to yourself that you are beautiful, in just the right ways, and let me tell you -

you are indeed beautiful.

You are capable of doing this - take a breath and another breath until you're in the future and this moment is better than the last and

sometimes progress seems small even under a microscope.

but it's worth it, and I believe in you.

a friend

Sunday, September 3, 2017

The Friendly Neighborhood Journal is Coming to You!

So, I've been alluding to a Thing on Twitter for a really long time....
and it's finally here.

In collaboration with the amazing Aimee Meester, I present to you...

Do you like writing letters to people?
Do you like getting mail from frens who live in places you've never been before?
Are you friendly? I hope so.

Then you should definitely join our group of nice people writing nice things to each other.  The Friendly Neighborhood Journal is a lil journal that will be passed around the country (and likely the world), accumulating journal entries from many frens.

If you sign up, we'll put you on the route and someday in the next few months, the journal will arrive at your doorstep. You'll be able to read through what everyone before you has written, then contribute something of your own - art, poetry, encouragement...then you'll send it on to the next person! (Note: international people can definitely sign up, and we'll just make sure the person before you is okay with shipping internationally.)

me with #thefriendlyneighbhorhoodjournal

You can follow the journey through the Twitter hashtag, #thefriendlyneighborhoodjournal, and post your own picture with the journal when it gets to you.

One of the best things is that you have no idea who's gonna ship the journal to you. You might get it from a beautiful person you've never talked to before, or maybe it'll be your best friend from Twitter, and they'll have sent you a personal letter to and maybe a nice bookmark in the package.  It'd be so cool if you made some new writing frens or pen pals out of this as well. Feel free to mail extra stuff along with the journal for the next person!

Comment or email with any questions, and sign up soon, because there's always the possibility that this will be a Cool Thing and run out of space before you can say "duh-caroline-and-aimee-are-already-cool".  If you know someone who'd love this kind of thing, share this post with them and peer pressure encourage them to sign up!

I can't wait to see where this lil guy goes. :)

Much love,
Caroline (and Aimee) 💙

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Feeling Alive

Sometimes, if I hold still for long enough,
or look at something really closely,
or breathe in deep enough,
I can feel myself living.

It’s really hard to explain.  

Most of the time, I feel like I live inside my head.  There’s a lot of thinking and analyzing and planning for the future, I guess?  I exist mostly in my thoughts.  For this reason, I end up feeling kind of distant sometimes.  Like the world is this thing that I have to actually reach out to in order to interact with. I don’t actually live in it.  

Maybe everyone’s brain is like this, whether they write entire blog posts about it or not. Maybe it’s just an introverted, INFJ, writer-penguin-Caroline thing.

Then, there are distinct times when I actually feel….alive.  

Usually, it’s a certain smell or image that does it.  It’s a little moment of ‘enlightenment’ or awareness that lasts just a second or two.

/ / the smell of rain / /
/ / staring at a forest. a whole forest. / /
/ / the smell of wood and old window sills / /
/ / fall and spring / /
/ / a song you used to know by heart, and maybe still do / /
/ / fresh snow / /

Fall is the best time for this feeling.  There’s so much ‘life’ in the air, somehow. Sometimes I can smell Fall as early as late July.  It’s like I filter out that little hint in the air, and my soul remembers it and I just get really happy.

Most of the time, it’s a really random thing. Something that gives me sense of nostalgia for memories that make me feel like I’m living in my childhood again, when I didn’t live in my head so much.

I’m not sure why I wrote this post, exactly, other than to put this feeling into words.  It came nowhere near capturing the feeling, but I wrote it down anyway.  It feels so good to feel...alive.

Do you ever feel this feeling of 'aliveness' or awareness? What's your favorite season - and have you been able to smell Fall yet? I promise I will finish that Identity series soon oops xD

(PS I just switched my comment system from Discus to the original Blogger comments, because people were mentioning that it wouldn't let them comment. So please let me know if you have problems with it! I think it deleted lots of old comments on other posts *sad faceeeee* but hopefully it will let more people start commenting again. -.- )

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Don't Be a Dark Squishy Turtle - Take a Break (Identity Series: Part 1)

I don't know how to do this.

I feel like I say that a lot.  But honestly, every once in a while, inevitably, I come back to this point.  Very often, that sentence applies to a lot of things in my life.

"I don't know how to blog consistently."
"I don't know how to keep my emotional state steady for more than about a day or two (or an hour or two)."
"I don't know how to coerce inspiration into visiting me."
"I don't know how to be myself."

Who am I?  I guess it's a normal question to be asking right before college. The crazy mess of high school is over, and now that my time isn't constantly taken up with homework, sports, concerts, poetry slams, and other performances...I'm not really sure what to do with myself.

I've tried to do a lot of creative things this summer. I've done a lot of creative things this summer.  I want to feel like "myself" again.  Except, when I tried to go back to that, I started to realize that I didn't even know what I was trying to go back to.  Some part of myself has been left behind...or moved forward?  I'm not sure.  *cue existentialist identity crisis #37 of this week*


*the wild Caroline returns after abandoning this post for about a week*

*doesn't know what's going on (AKA nothing's changed)*

Plot twist, I'm gonna do a little series on identity.  Fitting, since I'm about to go to college, I'm a introspective little bean, and I have an identity crises about every five minutes. Obviously, I'm an expert on the topic.

Actually, I've really been learning a lot lately.  So expect a few (maybe shorter-than-normal?) posts on identity - both metaphorically, literally, and sarcastically in the next week or two. Probably Broadway musical references.  And If I randomly never post another part of this series, well....I mean, identity is hard, man!  I probably got amnesia and forgot I had a blog. (A good and convincing excuse that I should use here more often.)

Before I forget where this post was even going...

Take a break.

Like, you owe the world nothing?  The globe keeps turning if you sit back and don't write that post today?  Empires rise and fall in the presence of your action and non-action and there is no correlation there.

In other words, it's okay to be inconsistent with blogging (and other things in life. Obviously, please consistently water your pet cactus - but like, other than that?).  There are 'rules' and stuff for blogging if you wanna get "popular" - 'post on the same day each week', 'go follow other blogs', 'keep your content & voice consistent', etc.  And yeah, that stuff can work pretty well.

But at the cost of your enjoyment being viciously ripped away and stomped on by Dementors?  Not worth it, friendo. If you're struggling to keep up a blog right now, it's okay.  Keep struggling, instead of forcing yourself to be perfect.  Because you might attain that 'perfection', but there's always going to be consequences.  (AKA every fantasy book ever - because it's TRUE.)  In high school, I did a lot of stuff that I liked. Kept my grades up, took challenging classes - and everyone said I was "successful".


I was just stalking my own archives (as you do), when I found this post that describes EXACTLY how I've been feeling lately.  (Funny how I thought I learned that lesson....I guess it's like those college classes, the ones that are like 'yay you can retake this one as many times as you want hooray')

"But ignore the late nights.  Ignore the stress and irritation.  Close your eyes to the tears, because these are just side effects.  Just tiny inconveniences, not long term, that must be overcome.  Until they started to disable me.  Too tired, too stressed.  Working harder to keep up with the "standards".  If I complete my to-do list, I'll finally feel good. Then I can be happy, carefree.  But until then, just gotta plug through. 
And then I just couldn't. I got to a point where I physically and mentally could no longer maintain the demands I'd built up for myself.  I simply couldn't keep playing the deadly game, courting the idol.  There reaches a point for every human being at which they realize that they are not invincible.  The longer it takes, the harder it hits. " (Read the rest)

I kinda feel invincible sometimes.  I think I should be.  But on the inside (the part I keep ignoring, because duh, who even needs those vital organs anyway?)  I am hurting.  Stuck in the lie that my identity is how well, how fast, how much...I do things.  My brain is a little too heavy from the weight of all that pressure and performance and self-imposed standards.

It's kind of like being a turtle.  A very fast turtle, who likes to zip around all day and has a very hard shell, but is all squishy and dark and ouch inside.

Don't be a dark squishy turtle.

Take a break.

Who are you?  Have you taken a break recently?  Are you going to remember that your identity isn't based off of how many things get done in day? Please do. 💙