Marching on.

2016 has been very good to us so far.

My 8 week classes are winding down, and they honestly have been surprisingly manageable compared to the workload over the past year. I’ve been able to enjoy time with my people, babysit a little, watch a little TV (a major luxury around here these past 2 years), and finally find time to enjoy this beautiful city I live in. I’ve really enjoyed this season and feel very grateful for temporary slower pace.

I found out yesterday where my very first level 2 Fieldwork placement is (hoorayyyy!) and could not be more excited at the thought of entering into my last big hurdle between me and graduating in August. I hear amazing things about the facility I’ve been selected for and the therapists I’ll be working under. I will get to put all my current knowledge into action and learn a ton from the clinicians around me. What a crazy ride it has been, and I’m sure will continue to be.

In the meantime, wonderful things have been happening in Austin. Dear friends were married in one of the most beautiful weddings the world has ever seen. There have been birthdays and Valentine’s Day celebrations and incredible weather and it makes me feel like Spring is already here.

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Josh has been away in Ireland the past week on a father/son adventure exploring his dad’s birthplace and heritage. ( I know..SO cool.) I have been missing him for sure, but more than that I have just been giddy at the thought of him and his dad romping around a foreign country together making incredible memories. It makes me want to do that with my dear old dad…**dad if you’re reading this, you’re welcome to buy us an epic trip together anytime  😉

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The host of a podcast I’ve been listening to always asks her guests, “What are 3 things you’re loving” to end the show, so in the spirit of copying people I’m going to share the same.

  1. Smoothies. Can’t get enough of them right now, especially with all this sunshine and a Juiceland right down the street.
  2. My house. While this place has fluctuated between being my safe-haven and the bane of my existence, lately I have been so grateful for this little house and the peace I have here after a long day. It sure has been quiet around here, but it has been a good counterbalance to finals week.
  3. Yard work. Since Josh has left, I have been super into working in the yard. I think my brain needed a mindless task involving physical labor and sunshine to keep me sane this past week. No one ever told me digging holes in the yard could bring so much satisfaction.

What are you loving right now??

Happy weekend to you all!

What school has really taught me.

Whether it be the nature of year 27 or the fact that I’m trying to start up a career a little later in life, the past 3 years as a college student has changed me in so many ways. I only have 4 short weeks of classes left until my last phase of the program begins (Level II Fieldwork). This minuscule amount of time left in the classroom has left me super reflective on what all this has meant to me.

I have learned so so much. Of course I have learned the awesome, more practical stuff. (i.e. how to rehabilitate a stroke patient or work with children with Autism…I know, OT is the coolest.) But under the surface there is one big lesson I keep coming back to.

Waiting for the “thing” to fall in your lap is a big fat waste of time. 

Growing up, a lot of the messages I internalized about deciding on a career involved words like “gifts” and “calling.” And while there is definitely something to be said of those things, what I didn’t realize was that being “called” to something didn’t mean it would come easily. So I waited…And waited…And waited…And sure, some of the natural gifts I came into this world with are actually very useful in the career I chose. But there are 1000 other things that just weren’t there.

When I started school, I was almost crushed by the weight of fear around not already having all the qualities of a successful clinician. I compared myself to others who seemed so far ahead of me. But as time went on, I gradually let go of the idea that any one job will be a perfect fit. At first, each time I received constructive feedback or a not-so-stellar grade would kill me. I would doubt the rightness of my decision to pursue this goal. I would wonder if my calling was somewhere else where I felt more comfortable. Nothing felt right about being in the program…because nothing about it was easy.

But good news! We aren’t meant to wait around for a perfect job or opportunity that feels completely right. All we really need are a desire to grow, the ability to reflect on and respond positively to failure, and the faith to believe that the long and arduous road will lead somewhere amazing.

If I could travel back in time 10 years and talk to a high school senior named Caroline, I would tell her to stop waiting, and to do the work. Do. The. Work. It is much harder to fight the uphill battles of change, wake up early, decide to go after the qualities you want to possess. The easy way out is sitting on your hands, praying that the small amount of paint on your palette will be enough to create that beautiful picture. Get off your butt and GO GET MORE FREAKIN PAINT!

If there’s anything I regret about the last decade of my life, it’s not understanding this truth sooner. My shortcomings aren’t barriers to success, they are opportunities for growth. And in all the growth, there’s more joy than I could have ever imagined.

If you are someone who discovered this much earlier, I sincerely congratulate you. It may seem like common sense to many out there. But to me, the news that I don’t have to have it all together has been so freeing. I still don’t enjoy failing. Criticism is hard. But day by day I’m learning how unbelievably rewarding it is to experience fruit from difficult labor. I’m choosing to accept the  hard work and the failures as part of the process. I’m learning to appreciate the people who invest in my life through offering me difficult feedback. I suspect this part comes with age, but I would like to think learning this a long time ago could have saved me much heartache.

I’m forever grateful for the people along the way who helped assure me of my own strength, and breathed life into my weary bones month after month I desperately wanted to give up.

Forgive my uber-cheesy, self-helpy post. I love putting into words the ways God has been growing me, and I appreciate you listening and experiencing them alongside me.

Hope your February has been as beautiful as ours has been in Austin. Henry is soaking up all of the tolerable sunshine he can before summer melts us all like popsicles. Happy Valentine’s Day, friends!

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Homeowners.

Well guys, we bought a house. I seriously never thought we would make such an adult decision, but Austin, Texas just sucked us in and seduced us with her beautiful rivers and cacti and tex mex and sunshine.

We were not the only ones who had the idea to buy a house in Austin, though. In fact, the market here is absolutely insane right now. How insane, you might ask? Well, just to summarize the past few months, we have put NINE offers in on houses, ALL of them well above asking price, and got outbid every time. I knew it would probably take awhile to find a house, but I never expected to be putting offers in on houses the same day they went on the market and being in a bidding war with 5 other families. Yes, that happened…

The houses we tried for initially were in East Austin, near our church and our friends and the places we volunteer and my school. East Austin holds a special place in our heart for many reasons, and we would have loved to end up there. It is diverse and vibrant and rich with culture and sass. But as I prayed and prayed the last 5 months, I constantly asked God to let us end up exactly where He will use us most. Interestingly, we ended up getting an offer accepted on a house exactly 1.5 miles south of where we are renting in north central Austin. The sweetest older couple picked us (based on a rather desperate-sounding letter we wrote with our offer) to grace the home they’ve owned for decades.

The house needed (well…needs) a lot of work. The beautiful neighborhood is worth it though. We are now a short walk to a park, a grocery, a great bar, and some awesome pizza. What more could you want?

The first day after we got the keys, we went ahead and tore the carpet out so we could check out the beautiful hardwoods underneath. Thank goodness for whoever put those carpets in and NOT nailing them to the floor so they remain in tact. Just excuse the glue all over them 🙂 That will be gone soon. It is going to be so cute when we are all finished.

Henry is pretty thrilled about his new yard.

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Hello my pretty wooden floors. I can’t wait to refinish you.

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We have some good friends in the neighborhood who walked over to welcome us the day we got our keys. Also, the kids helped pull the carpet up aka jumped on them once they were in rolls.

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This guy really does love to watch over his yard. Old and new.

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Margo and Ellis. King and Queen of the carpet mountain.
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Yes, we have a lot of work ahead of us. Yes, we have lost our minds. YES, I cannot wait to be settled because the thought of renovating a house and moving in the middle of my craziest semester to date is..well..insanity.

So friends, if you want to come grab a paint brush and join the fun be our guest! I finished up my midterms today, so I have 4 whole days of not being stressed about school to enjoy being stressed about house stuff 🙂 Sadly, I am actually excited about this.

My prayer lately is that God will bless our new home not with great floors or no leaks, but with people and connectedness and growth. I pray that it will be a place of comfort and peace to everyone who steps through the threshold, and that we would be great stewards of this very undeserved gift we’ve been given. I’m so grateful for it, and for the memories yet to be made there.

Happy Wednesday!

PS. Next post…I’ll write about the freaking rat that’s been living with us the last 5 days.

 

 

Veggin’ Out With MLF

One of the things I have come to love most about Austin is the abundance of passionate people. Passionate about coffee, food, graffiti, running, naked bike rides…You name it, there is someone preachin’ it here.

Vox Veniae, our church community, happens to be incredibly passionate about being a source of hope and a helpful presence in the often-hurting East Austin neighborhoods. Our church deeply loves the broken, and invites all to come share in the fellowship Christ offers. I absolutely love being a part of something so non-exclusive. It is truly beautiful.

A big part of how Vox shows love to the east Austin community is by partnering with existing organizations already impacting the lives of residents there. One such non-profit is called Mobile Loaves and Fishes, and it is seriously unbelievably cool. The way they roll up their sleeves and completely dive into the confusing and very messy issue of chronic homelessness humbles and challenges me. They empower impoverished men and women in Austin through urban gardening, planned communities, and various work opportunities. They deeply know and love Austin’s homeless. To be known…What a powerful thing to offer your fellow man. It is a huge honor for our community to get to come alongside them and witness lives being changed daily by the seeds they plant (literally and figuratively of course).

Right before Christmas, my small group met up at Space12 (our church building) to wash vegetables with Steven Hebberd (Vox member and MLF employee) and some of his co-gardeners from the organization. It was a blast to get to goof off around the table and gawk at the vast array of produce plucked from the MLF gardens earlier that day. Our creepy stares at the vegetables may have terrified Steven, because our group was quickly re-directed to egg-washing duties. Simple Enough. “We’ll knock this out in no time and then resume our vegetable ogling.”

We then watched as hundreds and hundreds of recently hatched chicken eggs were placed before us. Yep. It took us awhile. But it was something we could all do together as a team, which was perfect for a midweek group in the infant stages like ours is. Team building, man. I loved every minute of it.

So this is a call to all midweek groups, friend groups, loners, parents, grandparents and anyone in Austin who doesn’t mind a little chicken poop-SCHEDULE A WEDNESDAY NIGHT FOR WASHING VEGGIES (and eggs) FOR MLF. You will bless their organization, and get to be a part of something huge God is doing in our amazing city.

Thanks so much Steven!!!

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Treasured moments

I absolutely adore my best friend Julianne Baily. She has been in my life for 10 years now, and even though we lived WAY too far apart for the last 4 years, we always manage to pick up where we left off.

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My sweet friend comes to visit me wherever Josh and I decide to live. She’s stayed with us in Athens, Portland, and 3 times in Austin. I couldn’t be more grateful for her willingness to travel far and wide on behalf of our friendship. Some of the best memories of my life include her and her husband Daniel, and their visit to Austin over the weekend will always hold one of those special, one-of=a-kind places in my heart.

Mushy mushy mushy. Sorry. 🙂

Much of our time together typically revolves around food, and this visit was no exception. When the Bailys come to town, Josh and I are on a mission to wine and dine these two until they subconsciously decide to eventually end up in Austin so we can be neighbors. And also holy crap THE FOOD HERE.

We did a BBQ crawl in Lockhart and Luling, Texas the morning after they arrived. Small town Texas/world famous bbq towns did not disappoint. We had tacos at Torchy’s (twice…), BREAKFAST tacos and Tacodeli (big difference in regular tacos of course), ramen, gourmet truck food from East Side King, and bratwursts from Bangers. Goodness.

So by the time they left on Sunday, I was an absolute wreck from the combination of loathing myself entirely for the food I consumed, and being so so sad that they were leaving and I don’t know when I’ll see Juju again. So many feelings.

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“I’m so confused about how food can be this beautiful and taste this good at the same time! How is it possible?”

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I was extra glad that Josh and I went ahead and purchased our Christmas gift for ourselves right before they came. We finally have a decent camera again! So blog readers rejoice that photo quality on this site has officially improved dramatically.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go eat raw carrots for the next month until I forgive my 4 day long gluttenous binge.

Cheers to the holidays rapidly approaching, great friends who feel like family, and the greatest city in the world-Austin, Texas!

Visitors!

My college roommate Cara and her husband John were kind enough to fly out from Atlanta for a visit this weekend. We had so much fun catching up with them after way too long. Cara is one of those people who make you feel like she’ll always love you no matter what, and it was so fun to get to share this amazing city with her for a few days. I also love how enthusiastic she is about the little things in life. It makes me feel so great to hear “OH MY GOSH, LOOK HOW BEAUTIFUL THAT LAKE IS!” or “THIS IS THE BEST PIECE OF BREAD I’VE EVER HAD” when hearing her thoughts about Austin. I happen to agree with how great this place is, but it’s fun to have my opinions validated by a first-time visitor. Thanks, girl 😉

Since it happened to also be Josh’s birthday weekend, we went a little crazy with the amount of food/fun/overall good times. It’s ok to gain 6 pounds in 3 days every once in awhile, right? Hmmm…

Anyway! Here’s some things I will recommend to future Austin travelers or hosts of visitors to impress your guests. **Note: Austin is rapidly becoming overpopulated, so if your goal is to get someone to NOT want to move here, please refrain from the following activities.**

#1 Jester King Brewery

This is the place my husband chose to have his birthday celebration. Being the picky man he is, this is a huge compliment. Located on the outskirts of Austin, right next to the hill country and away from the hectic feel of downtown, it is the perfect place to spend an afternoon with people you really enjoy. It is $10 to taste the entire selection of beers, and includes a Jester King beer glass and a tour of the place. There’s live music on the weekends, cornholl, and an AMAZING open air pizza restaurant on the property called Stanley’s Farmhouse Pizza. Go spend a saturday there. You won’t be sorry. (So long as you bring along a designated driver)

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#2 Barton Creek Greenbelt

Ok, this place is probably the thing I love most about Austin lately. It is my sanctuary, where I spend hours each week. I love to show it off to friends when they come in town because it is so amazing to me that there is a 7 mile stretch of deeply hidden, BEAUTIFUL hiking trails located in the middle of this city. Some people who live here never take the time to experience this gem, and I truly feel bad for what they’re missing out on. It is a treasure that I don’t think I could live without now that it’s such a big part of my life.

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#3 Mount Bonnell

This popular tourist destination is kind of a no-brainer. Beautiful views of the city, the Colorado River, and the beautiful Westlake hills make it the perfect place to snap a few pictures and sit in the sun for a few minutes.

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But when people I care about are in town, I mostly love to plant my butt in a chair at a great restaurant with a cocktail in hand and talk about life. There’s just nothin’ better than springtime in Central Texas.

Summer, feel free to hold on and let Spring stay forever. I wouldn’t mind one bit.

Next up for me: Georgia trip to see my family this weekend! I’m so excited to kiss my niece’s little cheeks and take my little brother to see Zorro the musical. Also, tomorrow I am turning in our 60-day notice to vacate or nasty apartment! We’re finally getting the hell outta here! HAH! Yes, I’m a little excited, even though we have no clue where we will be living next…Only time will tell.

Happy monday!

Caroline

Austin Cap 10k

I survived!!

I’m so excited to say that 2013 was the first year of my life that I actually followed through with a major New Year’s resolution. On January 1st I wrote down that I wanted to run a 10k this year. 8 weeks ago, a friend of mine mentioned the Capitol 10,000 to me. I really had no intention of signing up, and honestly I was hoping for the “too hot to run outside” summer months to pass before I ever looked into following through with my resolution. By the time the weather cooled off again, there probably wouldn’t be any 10k’s to run by the end of the year and I would be off the hook.

But, thanks to my loving and somewhat obnoxiously devoted husband who is always determined to help me reach my goals, I started looking into training plans. I went with the one my friend Constance was already working on, found HERE, but I started 6 weeks from race day instead of 8.

Like I said before, I struggled a lot with my longer run last weekend because of a freak asthma attack. Thankfully, nothing like that happened the day of the race and I was able to run the whole thing with a little bit of energy to spare. My running shoes are a tad too big, so I did end up with a gigantic blister on the arch of my left foot. But other than that, I am officially unscathed and by some miracle I am actually walking today! I even convinced my BFF Julianne to run it with me next year. She’s going to SMOKE me, considering I run 11 minute miles. But finishing is finishing i suppose 🙂

The starting line

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Constance, my fearless training buddy

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I’m so excited, I’m so excited, I’M SO SCARED!

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Josh took this while waiting for me to pass him at mile 2. I stole a kiss from him after conquering a big hill.

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The one who cheered me on and inspired me for the past 6 weeks. Thanks babe!

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Oh man, and possibly my favorite thing about the whole day was the fact that the kids I babysit for came out to cheer me on and made the most adorable signs. One says “go go go go go go…etc” and the other says “run run run” with wolverine claws on it. (He is obsessed with super heroes) It absolutely made my day!!!

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All in all, it was a great experience. I even made it to church afterward to see some friends get baptized. Now that the weekend is over, I’m not exactly sure what to do with myself…I guess I should study for my test this week or something. Darn it, all my distractions are gone!

Happy monday kids!