Monday, February 25, 2013


Word of caution to all my blog readers: I've debated on posting this but decided to for the hope it will bring some awareness. Last night, I drove to a local fast food restaurant, and while sitting between 2 cars in the drive-through, a man started walking close to my passenger side door. I checked to see that my doors were locked because I was instantly afraid. I listened to my fear and was on high alert. Next thing I know, this man came behind my car up to my driver's side window. He was between the exterior wall of the restaurant and my car door. Since I was between 2 cars, I couldn't move my vehicle. He asked me to roll down my window so we could "talk." After I yelled NO, he walked away. As soon as I got to the window, I informed the manager... Then noticed this man had positioned himself at the edge of the parking lot, my only exit. The manager yelled and told him the police would be called if he continued loitering, and he walked away. 

All of that to say, be careful. 
Listen to your instincts.
 I didn't feel bad or embarrassed at all that he made me afraid because I listened to my fear, and it helped me stay alert.
im thankful.
carrie anne

Saturday, February 23, 2013

nontraditional point of view.

to be brutally honest, i'm brutally honest a lot of the time. many of you never hear this from me, but a few of you have. my opinions can bite, and frankly, id be terribly embarrassed and ashamed if the subject of my "honesty" heard my remarks. i think that a lot of us can relate to that. we say things to ourselves and to those close to us that we wouldn't want other people to hear, and we may even have a running joke or "rant" about a particular person or group of people. 

Examples could include: the welfare population, religious groups, different cultures from our own, mentally ill, poor/rich, overweight, and the list goes on and on. 

in my social psychology course in my undergraduate program, we learned about a concept that showed how hearing an individual's point of view is more meaningful than looking at an entire group's. For example, any commercial showing "starving children in Africa" will always highlight one of those children's lives in order for the viewer to grasp the importance of helping out these kids. It seems like a simple concept that we forget/ignore all the time. It can be easy for me to put aside thoughts of the poor and hungry in another country, but you can't get me to stop thinking about Myloveda... our sweet, adorable girl we sponsor from Haiti. 

There is power in a story of one person. It demands us to respond... and hopefully change our point of view. I like to think that i attempt to challenge my thinking on a regular basis... that I try to wrestle with my dissonance and sit in it for a while. sometimes, I even find myself putting myself in situations or engaging in conversations that I know will challenge my beliefs. it's tough stuff. 

With all of that said, I'm hoping to alter our perspective by hearing a first-hand account from my FIRST guest post on my blog. This woman holds an amazingly special place in my heart and in my family. I absolutely ADORE her and all she is. She loves Jesus fiercely, and she has always been a solid woman in my life... and she never forgets my birthday : )

I asked Ms Debbie Whittington to give her experience and perspective in a type of question and answer format with me... about what it's like to be a nontraditional student in college today. Our opinions change when we put ourselves in conversations to stretch our views... but they also change when someone you love enters one of the groups you've poked fun at before. 

Like I said before, I'm guilty.
I'm guilty of making fun of nontrads when I was in undergrad. 
They blocked the stairs with their rolly backpacks and asked too many questions when i wanted to get out of class early. I'm honestly excited to hear from Aunt Debbie about her perspective about going back to school later in life so my perspective can change

So here goes:

Can you give us some background information? Where you're from, any significant events you'd want to share, where you are now, as well as college you attend/degree you're seeking?      
  • Before I answer the first question, let me say thank you for your kind words. I have always felt very fortunate to be an adopted part of your family. Being “Aunt Debbie” has been a very rare privilege. Our extended families have been grafted together since I was a little girl! But, that’s another story……I digress…..which leads us to exactly the issue you were talking about ---nontrads taking up too much time in class. For those who don’t know me I was raised in Carrie’s hometown of Fort Smith, Arkansas. I was raised in a Christian home and have been a Christian educator all of my adult life. I am the mother of 2 sons and a grandmother of 2. Recently I have become a widow. Those have been my labels until now, now I can add college student. I am going to the University of Mary Washington here in Fredericksburg, VA where I live with my oldest son and his family. I am hoping that I will be able to complete the degree I started in 1969. I did get one year before I left school in 1970 to marry and have a family. So it’s been a while!              
What made you decide to pursue a college education at this point in your life?  
  • Part of the process of healing when I lost my husband after 40 years of marriage was finding out who I was without him. Who was I all by myself? Even though going back to school had been talked about during our marriage after the kids were grown, it never really was an option I took too seriously. But this past summer when my youngest son, Scott, retired from the Marine Corps and enrolled into Old Dominion, I got the “bug” for school, too. With the encouragement of my sons and friends, I applied and to my surprised was accepted at UMW! Before I knew it, I was picking out classes and buying books. God was even able to get in His Opinion during the process. So here I am, a college student.
What struggles or negative experiences have you faced since starting college?
  • Some of the struggles are what you might expect, physical difficulties, like walking all over campus and stairs. The knees, hips & back aren’t what they used to be. But, Carrie, I don’t have a backpack! I take up even more room with my bookcase on wheels!! But the struggles you don’t see have more to do with memory. All the things in high school that you have learned and you need to know to continue in the college classroom. All those memories, all that knowledge for me is buried under 45 years of living!! Digging back into English class for parts of speech or a formula for math class, that struggle usually leads to more questions on my part. Then you add to that the presentation of some of the material has changed in the last half century!! How I learned and how the youth of today learn is vastly different. I’m pen and paper while they are computer. But mostly, the students have been kind and polite.
What's the most difficult aspect of entering college as a nontraditional student?
  • Being different, what you call Nontrad. Not knowing if your brain will work. Can I still learn and then remember when I am tested? It took more courage than I imagined that it would but God gave me what I needed to walk across campus and go in. Then there is homework!! It seems to take me forever to get through it all, maybe because I do it all, read it all, a couple of times so that I get it. I don’t remember doing that my first time around. It was no big deal when I was 18.
Who or what has been the most helpful resource to you since beginning your higher education?
  • Well, that has to be God Himself in the form of the Holy Spirit. Besides giving me strength to physically be a college student, He has even helped me with my work! He brought revelation to a problem I had to solve through a dream! Then, of course, I couldn’t do it without the support of both of my sons and the family and friends at church. Everyone encourages me, prays for me, asks how it is going, even talks about my graduation saying they can’t wait to be there!
Were you aware or have you felt any discrimination for being a nontraditional student? 
  • Not really. Of course, when the teacher says, “Let’s form small groups.” the students don’t come rushing over to join me. But there are always others that also are not included, I just wait to see who they are & ask them to join me. I have had a few of the students strike up conversations with me in the hall while we are waiting to get into class. The guys will usually hold the door open for me, even if they have to wait at the top of the stairs. Little surprises like that are pretty nice in the day.
If you could say anything to the "traditional" students reading this post, what would you say from your perspective that you'd like for them to hear/understand?
  • Life out in the world can be…. No IS, tough. College is more than your classes. It’s learning to be on your own, to be responsible and get done what is asked of you. When you go to work, keeping your job depends on it. You being able to pay the bills usually depends on you staying employed. Find out what you like, what you enjoy and pursue that. Life is tough enough, don’t saddle yourself with work that you don’t like as well.


another conversation where i'm forced to change my mindset.

I first began to hold a special place for these "nontrads" when my hubby went back to school recently. He works a 40+ hour/week job and takes classes full-time for school. We often joke about how we'd love for his "job" to just be in school ... since we took that for granted so much back in the day. But more than that, he's serious about school. Most nontrads are. What I wanted so badly when I was in school was speed and efficiency: give me A's, and give them to me quickly. I want to graduate and be outta here so I can go on to something else. What I admire about nontraditional students is that most of them are really there to LEARN and be part of the PROCESS

I think we can learn something from them.
I know I already learned so much from Aunt Debbie and our honest conversation today. 
I hope you did, too.

im thankful
carrie anne

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

thoughts during my last week of 25.

so my 26th birthday is in one week. 

weirdly enough, my birthday countdown started yesterday (at 8 days). this is quite the change from 10 years ago when i started my countdown to 16 at close to 300 days 
((i had a homemade tear-off countdown on my wall and everything))

im a girl who LOVES her birthday. february is always the *perfect* month, and all my fellow february birthdays say, "AMEN!" But this year feels different... i'm thinking that this may because i'm not counting down to be 16 anymore. i'm counting down for 26. 


what did i think my life was going to look like at 26 when i was 16? i guarantee you that i'd have said i would have about 3 kids by now... a successful career, beautiful family with a wonderful husband and a huge house with a big yard all with a gorgeous dog or two. i think i also would have thought that 26 would feel differently, too.... like i was more of an adult and less like a kid.

i can't fully speak for 26 yet - I'll let you know in a week. But for my last week of being 25, life feels a lot different than I thought it would... mainly because there are still so many times when i feel so much like a child. i've looked at ryan before and said, "can you really imagine the fact that we are MARRIED and live on our own in this house!? we get to do whatever we want! we're considered 'grown-ups' to little kids!!!"

it blows my mind.

because in all reality, i feel like im still 16 a lot of the time. 
i still feel unsure about myself and my decisions... except for the added pressure that it's not just me and my future in my decisions now. 
i still feel like i want people to like me and i want to make everyone happy. 
i still have doubts and insecurities about myself and my life. 
i still look at other people and think that maybe their life would be better to have than my own. 
i still so desperately want to be perfect.
i still feel the pressure to go above and beyond expectations for myself from others.
i still feel like im not enough at times. 
and there are times when i still feel like maybe when i get a little older that things will get better.

but there's something different about 25 year old carrie anne and 16 year old carrie anne.

i'm slowly starting to learn that the "Pinterest-perfect life" doesn't have to be mine, and it probably shouldn't be. my comparisons to other people's lives are like poison that only bring me down and do nothing to enhance myself personally. i'm learning that i'm already accepted and loved and don't have to have everybody else's approval. i'm learning that age doesn't necessarily bring wisdom or maturity, and "being an grown up" is tough stuff. i'm learning that humility is my best asset and tool, and knowing that i don't know (and will never know) everything is better than pretending to. 

what i know now that i maybe didn't know at 16 was that God loves me so much. when i was 16, i was self-obsessed with my appearance and being liked by other people and by "finding out who i was." i made dumb choices based on that mindset, and i can honestly say now that now that old mindset only comes in glimpses; however, those glimpses remind me of my "old self" that i wish so badly would go away. 

i think it's the glimpses of my old self that allow me to have empathy for others (as well as myself)... and to let me know that i'll never always have it together.  
that's hard to accept for a perfectionist... and as an almost 26 year old :)

so here's my resolve. 

ive learned that i can either accept the truth or run from it and have it find me later. 
the truth is: 26 scares the crap out of me. 
it sounds like an age where i should have it all together and tied up in a pretty bow. 

i'm going to let it scare me.... for now.
but i don't think it will for long.

 i'm reminded of scene from one of my favorite movies, Man on Fire.
Denzel is training Dakota Fanning for a swim meet, and she's too slow off the block. You can watch and see the video below and how this might relate to my upcoming milestone of 26.

 i'm considering 26 my gunshot.

 i'm in training now.

im thankful.
carrie anne

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

to my niece.

To my precious Bella Marie,

I absolutely cannot believe you are already turning three. It seems like yesterday we were all anticipating your arrival, nervously waiting in a room together. You have blessed my life in a way only you can. I never knew the tremendous joys of being an aunt until you came along and filled my heart with unending love!
Auntie Carrie has become one of my most favorite roles in life :)

I hope to one day get to share the special story of how you were brought into this family... from my point of view. I cannot wait to share that moment with you and
hopefully hear you ask me to tell it to you often after that. It's one of the most beautiful stories I've ever heard and experienced.

Since I'm the baby of my family and near the youngest of all my cousins (and also have no children of my own yet), you have been an amazing gateway to loving children. I love your sweet voice, staunch independence, and shrieking laughter when we play. You have put light in parts of my heart I didn't know existed and made me realize how deep love can grow.

Most of all, you gave me a new role in life. I never realized the blessings of "Aunthood" until you. There's something beautiful about seeing your siblings raise children... And also getting to love and be part of those kids' lives. You've given me a reason to reflect on my own Aunts and realize how much they truly mean to me... and probably grasp how much I mean to them.

I can actually remember one instance when one of my Aunts gave me a memory that brings tears to my eyes even now. On my wedding day, my Aunt Elaine saw me before the ceremony in my dress and everything... and started crying. The look on her face is engrained in my memory because she looked so incredibly happy... and so proud of me. There was no doubt that love was overflowing in that room that night.

The way she looked at me is how I hope to look at you one day, my sister's daughter. In three years, you've managed to teach me so much and increase my ability to love exponentially. Your life is a miracle. Your place in this family is forever special. You, my niece, are irreplaceable and incredibly important to me. My love for you reaches the stars and back before even scratching the surface.

As much as I love gifts, your life has been a perfectly precious gift to me... and our entire family. You've not only made me an Aunt; you've made me an extremely proud one.

bella and her cabbage patch doll (Hope) from Ryan and I at Christmas

us dancing in our tutu's at Christmas - yes, I'm wearing Bella's tutu :)

our sweet Princess at her 3rd birthday party


our first day to meet each other...

and so much love grown in 3 years.

I'm forever honored to be your Auntie Carrie.

im thankful.
carrie anne