Sunday, October 23, 2016


Have you ever given much thought to your breath? To how often you breathe, the rhythm of your breath, whether or not you breathe through our nose or mouth?

Maybe, or maybe not. 

I've given a lot of thought to my breath. I distinctly remember an instance when I was young- maybe 6 or 7, sitting in the chair where my mom would do my hair for school. I had been thinking about my breath, and I said "I'm worried I'm going to stop breathing or forget how to breathe." Instead of brushing off my fears, my mom said "I know what you mean. I've felt that before, too. I just remind myself that I know how to breathe. But I know it can be scary". Ever since then, when I feel like I CAN'T breathe, I go back to those words. I know how to breathe. I know this is scary, but I will catch my breath again.

When have I lost my breath? In times of severe anxiety. When tears are falling too hard. When I am put on the spot. When I get scared. When I heard bad news. After a long run or a hard workout. And, at one point in my life, simply walking up a flight of stairs. But I always find my breath again. Without having to think too much about it, it comes back. And trust me, there are times where I do not think I will ever be able to catch my breath. But I always do.

All my life, the words "breath" and "breathe" have brought me immense comfort. I think it's the simple fact that to breathe means to live- and so long as you continue to breathe, you are still alive. You have not been consumed by whatever it is you thought was going to take your precious breath away.

I've been taking yoga classes here and there for the last three years. Breath, and paying attention to your breath, is one of the core aspects of yoga. Learning to really control my breath, to sit with my breath, to try different KINDS of breathing (who knew there were so many?) has made a very deep positive impact on me. I have a breathing technique when I cannot sleep at night. I have a breathing technique at the dentist, when I'm getting a massage, when I'm anxious, and when I'm nervous or when I'm angry. 

It's so easy to turn to someone who is anxious and to say, simply "breathe". Sometimes it can come off sarcastic, or rude. But breathing really is one of the best things you can do in that situation. It will bring on the calm, and the peace you need to move onward. 

I'm honestly not sure why I wrote about this, or that my post even makes sense. I just feel almost surrounded by the idea of breathing, and with breath comes calm. I know there are may be other people out there who struggle with anxiety and may "lose their breath", and I hope it helps to know- you know how to breathe. You WILL breathe. And you will become calm again.

I told you've I've been drawn to these words, I've also been drawn to songs that embrace this idea. I'll share a few here:

Sunday, October 2, 2016

I put my armor on, show you how strong how I am

Last week, my family learned that my dad has a brand new tumor growing in his brain. Ever since he was diagnosed with cancer in September 2013, we've been through all kinds of ups and downs, twists and turns. I've written about all of them. Perhaps, you, too, are getting sick of reading about it.

Cancer is not supposed to be easy, and of course, bad news comes with the territory. We get bad news, we fix the problem, we go on. Until the next thing happens.

So even though we are "used" to this type of news, even though we KNOW that this is not going to be a smooth ride, that doesn't make it easier. And that doesn't mean I'm going to stop writing about it.

Selfishly, writing helps me to release my emotions. But I also think it's important to share my dad's story- to share our story.

In short, it sucks. It feels like a sucker punch to the stomach every time we hear something like this. No matter how much fight we have in us to conquer forward and to leap over this hurdle, there is no denying that it plain sucks to have to deal with this.

I cannot promise you that we are going to "be positive" or "stay strong" all the time. There are some days when that is just too hard. There are some days where we need to cry or be angry or hibernate.

This is cancer in it's ugly moments.

Having said all of that, I want to assure everyone around us that we are NOT going to give up. My dad will fight, and we will fight. When one of us is weak, the others swoop in. We will rise, even when it doesn't feel possible. Because as ugly as cancer is, it also gives us this incredible gift of perseverance. Cancer has been the hardest, most challenging, work out I've ever had.

Thank you for reading my very raw, somewhat depressing ramble of emotions. Like I mentioned, for as much as cancer tries to bring us down, we will fight back 10 x stronger. It just takes a moment-or two- to get back in that mindset. After we catch our breaths, and after the tears stop flowing, we plan our attack on cancer.

I'm saying we, of course, because my family moves as a unit. None of us can feel what my dad feels or fight this fight for him, but together, we move forward, one step at a time. #carolinstrong

Monday, September 12, 2016

Pure Imagination

I can't remember the first time I ever watched Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory. I just remember it being a part of my life for as long as I can remember. I've watched it countless times. As a little kid I was blown away by all the candy and magic that came with the factory. I longed to visit a place like that, equipped with a chocolate river and all! I loved how sweet Charlie was, I laughed when Violet turned Violet, I wanted to try an everlasting Gobstopper. I was terrified of that ride on the river, and I used to fast forward through that part. I knew that in order to be rewarded as a kid, I couldn't be greedy or selfish like the other characters in the movie. I even loved Mr. Wonka himself, for as sarcastic and sometimes scary as he was.

I continued to love the movie through adulthood. I appreciated things differently. Like how close Charlie and Grandpa Joe were and how the movie showed the importance of family. That if we treat others well, and do the right thing, good things will come. That we should be grateful for every moment, every experience, and everything we have.

But above all of these things, the biggest take away from Willy Wonka is this:

 If you want to view paradise, simply look around and view it. Anything you want to, do it; want to change the world... there's nothing to it.

That was always my favorite part in the movie, when Mr. Wonka is singing this song. And maybe I didn't fully understand the words when I was a kid, but as I got older I sure did. That song is one of my all time favorites. I am brought to tears nearly every time I listen to it. It's so simple, but so beautiful. Paradise, as we know it, is right here. Right in front of us. And if there's something that needs to be changed, we have the power to change it. How amazing is that? Our minds, our imaginations, are really a beautiful, powerful thing. They can give us hope, they can give us ideas, they can give us power and confidence.

I often have conversations with God or my guardian angel. Sometimes, I doubt that these are real. Am I just making it up? Is it just my imagination? When I asked this question to a spiritual director, her response was "Did God not create your imagination?"

That was the only answer I needed. I no longer doubt the power of my imagination. As the song states, there is no life I know to compare with Pure Imagination.

When news of Gene Wilder's death broke a few weeks ago, my heart broke right along with millions of other people across the globe who were inspired by this movie or other work that Gene Wilder did. I'll always think of him as Willy Wonka. I'll always hear him sing the words of Pure Imagination. He made that movie what it is for me and for so many other people. I know that he had many great projects outside of this movie, but I can't help but imagine him up in Heaven in his Wonka costume, joking with kids and eating candy. Pure Imagination.

Bonus: Here is the Glee Cast covering Pure Imagination. One of my favorite covers they ever did It's just the audio but worth the listen.  :)

Tuesday, September 6, 2016


I will not forget the first time I heard Adele. I was in college, partying with my roommates. Saturday Night Live was on in the background. My best friend Sam noticed Adele, the musical guest on SNL. Sam pointed at Adele and made a comment about how refreshing it was to have a bigger girl on TV, singing her heart out. Adele wasn't like the typical pop star.

I then remember seeing Adele's video for Chasing Pavements on MTV. I was mesmerized. Her voice was so soulful and rich. I remember jamming to her first album, 19. I remember how ecstatic I was when the hit single "Rolling In The Deep" was released. I remember shedding a tear the first time I heard "Someone Like You", but shedding even MORE tears when I heard "Don't You Remember", a track off of her incredible album 21.  I remember how anxious I was to get my hands on her third album, 25, and how happy I was to hear how she has grown as an artist and as a person.

My original impression of Adele remains true to this day: She is not the typical pop star. There really is no one like her right now. Aside from her outstanding vocals, emotional lyrics and soulful style, she's also (seemingly) down to earth, gracious, and hilarious. The real deal. Everything you could ask for in a singer, without any antics necessary.

I've never been able to see Adele live. She has sold out her shows every time she's rolled into town. And, as she gets more and more famous, it has become increasingly difficult to even try to get tickets. She's coming to Detroit for TWO nights, and both concerts sold out in a matter of about 5 minutes. I was "in line" on Ticketmaster just before they sold out. As the dates got closer, I was searching the Internet for tickets. I didn't want to pay a ridiculous amount, but I just couldn't imagine skipping out on this show. Of all of the artists I love, Adele is one I absolutely MUST see. I said so in 2011, and I say so now.

Well, luck came my way because my friend Kristen, who was one of the lucky ones who got tickets when they went on sale, decided to upgrade her seats and sold her original tickets to Sam and I. So now I am going to see Adele. I can barely even type that sentence out, it doesn't seem real. I know that may seem a bit dramatic...I just can't even believe it. Her music has gotten me through some of the toughest heartbreaks I've ever felt. I KNOW I'm not alone in that. That's what is so special about her music. So many of us feel something when we hear it. That's what makes Adele so special.

I feelings for Adele can be summed up in this tweet from 2015:

I wanted to share 10 Adele songs that you may not know if you don't own her albums. Make no mistake, her singles have been incredible. But I'm not going to include them here because my hope is to introduce you to a song you may have never heard before. So here are my 10 favorite Adele songs that were not radio singles.

10. He Won't Go

9. Million Years Ago

8. My Same

7. Take It All

6. Remedy

5. Crazy For You

4. Sweetest Devotion

3. One and Only

2. Don't You Remember

1. All I Ask