2015 Get Quiet Be Still

January 1, 2016

When I turned the bend on 2015 I flipped 2014 the middle finger putting that September stroke in my rearview mirror. Peace out and don’t come back now, ya hear? My plan was to stay focused on my health, be in the moment and not look too far down the path. I thought I’d do this and things would all work out.

What does that even mean anyway?

I entitled this post (something I hate doing, coming up with the dang title) Get Quiet Be Still because every time I came up with some cockamamie idea this year, whatever I thought I was going to get out of it turned out to be not that at all.

Don’t ask me what went on in January, couldn’t have been much because I don’t recall. Probably me on a bike looking for cats.


February I do remember because we went camping to Big Sur. (Not to worry this won’t be a month-by-month recap).

By camping I mean stayed in a fully heated cabin, wore sweaters and sat by the fire every night until we heard crunching in the bushes, got scared and ran inside. On one of the nights we drank wine and ate snacks (focus on drank wine) at Nepenthe next to a very interesting, well-traveled couple from Portland. The next thing I knew it was midnight and the hostess was stuffing matches into my pockets as I walked out the door. Where did those people from Portland go anyway? On the way back to camp, dear God don’t ask me why, we stopped at the local tavern where Chris happened to sit next to the sommelier from a swanky resort on the hill whose wife was, as fate would have it, that same match happy hostess from Nepenthe. Chris had booked us into that swanky resort on the hill for a couple days to close out the trip, but I was fighting him tooth and nail because I get nervous around the rich folk. The sommelier and his wife psshh’d away my reservations and the last thing I remember about that night was rolling down a hill in a fit of laughter landing in a pile of poison oak on the side of the Big Sur River. No more Canadian Club for me.

I surprised myself though. I loved that fancy hotel. The weather was so cold that no one went in the infinity pool but us and one other couple who, coincidentally, ended up being a client of the firm I used to work with. Good thing I didn’t have any poison oak residue when we met up out there. They said such kind things to me that I left feeling like I still had some use in this world. Well, up until we were leaving and the baggage guy hugged me and I began crying because I hate living in Southern California.




After catspotting all spring, I decided to go to Kauai in July while my niece was at Hawaiian school. Lack of funds, sweltering humidity and tropical storms couldn’t rain on that parade. One day Chris and I hiked four miles of the Nā Pali trail and I lost all the feeling in my arms and had to walk for miles with my hands above my head. It scared me so badly. At one point I sat down on the side of the trail and cried so hard I wondered if I’d ever stop. Why, why, why did I have to get sick? WHY?

Nā Pali

Every morning I’d been getting up at 5:30 to feed the roosters and watch the sunrise. I was reading Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking and finally felt like someone was articulating loss, albeit a completely different kind, in a tangible way. Every day in that early quiet I tried to come to grips with my own fear of the gaping hole in my future while simultaneously wrangling with vivid memories of brighter days (I wonder are they insurmountable?) gone by.  Every morning I woke up ready for FUN but heard shhhhh instead.


By the time we were heading home I felt I’d finally found some peace.

Then on the first day back I was sweeping the front steps and a thought skipped across my mind: Brian’s selling the place. I brushed it aside telling myself to stop thinking crazy thoughts. An hour later I was sitting outside reading a book when my phone rang. It was the landlord and he was selling the place.

I’m not going to recap summer. If you want, you can read that here. What I will say is this: I thought summer would be grilling outside and a visit to Canada and riding my bike and days at the beach reading books. Instead it was weeks of lying flat on my back directly in front of an A/C unit, unable to move because of the bulging disc in my back. It was pain in my mouth as my teeth strrretttched under the grip of that Invisalign. Wait is there a theme here? Every plan I made for summer was overridden by shhhhh be still. Even when I had to limp up and down the stairs for my landlord’s realtor I heard shhhhh be still. Everything I tried to do, I couldn’t. All I could do was be quiet, be still.

So that’s what I did for the remainder of 2015. I tried to stop fighting the flow of my life, even though it’s so uncomfortable. I didn’t try to anesthetize myself by buying things. I haven’t distracted myself with food or put up a wall of false happiness by trying to stay busy doing all the things. I’ve let myself sit in discomfort, both physical and emotional, and let it do its work. The thing about pain is it won’t go away until it’s done. You can’t force it.

I finally realized that when we went back to Big Sur in August. I was in no condition or mood for that trip. When we got there I could barely stand, but after earthing for two days was able to walk. Then a guy at the hotel we checked into for a couple nights for my birthday recognized us from the campground and upgraded us to a $2500/night room. SAY WHUT? After some reiki I was able to hike out to my favorite place on my actual birth day and whales swam right up. I remember standing there feeling tears on my face, so relieved; maybe I hadn’t done something so wrong, maybe all the life wasn’t going to be squeezed out of me after all.

FullSizeRender 4BigSurWhales2FullSizeRender 5Big Sur

So for 2016 I’m hoping for a listening ear, a flexible spirit and a return to brighter days.

Especially that last part.

Happy New Year you guys! Thanks for reading, listening and supporting. It means more than words could ever say.


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  • Reply Crazy shenanigans February 2, 2016 at 7:47 pm

    I have read your blog for years and follow along on Instagram. I am totally rooting for this year to be your year!

    • Reply This Free Bird April 6, 2016 at 12:55 am

      You have no idea how this comment made my day. NO IDEA. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! After all this time I sometimes wonder if anyone is still around reading my stuff then I hear from people like you and it makes me want to spend more time here. I’m hoping this is my year, too. AND YOURS!

  • Reply missgiven January 18, 2016 at 2:39 pm

    Yours is the only blog I actually read. The rest I just hit LIKE and move on. You are a fabulous writer. I commend you for the things you accomplish.
    Since moving to Utah where it’s cold I have felt horrible. Fatigue will just suddenly take me out. I have pain somewhere between my ears and hips at all times. I am even sensitive to wine. I drank wine every day in the Arizona climate, but not here.
    Anyways, I am not trying to compare. It is frustrating though feeling bad. BUT what I read in your blog is that people adore you and that you really listen to your body and your surroundings. That is something. Many today as so consumed with daily stress they ignore this.
    I wanted you to know that James 1:13 says that God does not try anyone. He does not test us with evil things.
    Jeremiah 29:11 “For I well know the thoughts that I am thinking toward you; declares Jehovah, ‘thoughts of peace, and not of calamity, to give you a future and a hope.”
    Revelation 21:4 tells us he will wipe out pain.
    Jesus accounts about healing the sick are just a reminder of what he can do as King of his Father’s Kingdom. Matthew 6: 9,10 we pray for that Kingdom to take place here on earth as it is in heaven. Jesus taught that prayer. That Kingdom/government is the solution. That government can solve our health problems and restore the earth.
    I hope you find more comfort in 2016 and I hope we both get to move. 😉

    Sincerely, Sarah

    • Reply This Free Bird April 6, 2016 at 12:53 am

      Sarah, you are such an encouragement to me. Thank you for reading and feeling comfortable to be bold here. Even if aren’t entirely on the same page theologically, I always appreciate your thoughts and know they come from the heart. I wish you the best in your move out of Utah. Here’s to sunny and dry days ahead. And some wine. xo

  • Reply Bee January 6, 2016 at 12:30 pm

    So, it’s been 5 days since your last Instagram post, so naturally I get a little itchy for my daily fix of your sunshine!! I saw the link to this post on your main page (yeah, I am a scroller of IG)! Anyhoo – I was moved to tears by your statement “the thing about pain is it won’t go away until it’s done. You can’t force it”!!!! So true! And sometimes (like for me), you learn that pain (or any other condition) is like our shadow. It’s always with us but some days it shows itself brighter than others! You are awesome blossom!! xxox

    • Reply This Free Bird April 6, 2016 at 12:52 am

      Bee you always make my day. I’m so happy we got to be friends on crazy ol’ Instagram! Thank you for reading along with me 🙂

  • Reply lena January 4, 2016 at 4:07 pm

    To all the good things we haven’t yet imagined for 2016.

  • Reply Heather January 2, 2016 at 7:20 am

    Boy have I been away for a long time. I gathered something had happened via Fb a while back but am just learning it was a stroke. Getting quiet and still Is such a sane way to navigate all of this, when you humanly can. It must have taken a while to find the quiet to ground yourself in that approach. May it serve you and guide your path through illness, pain, and recovery emotional and physical.

    So much love and light to you, Carrie. Blessings for 2016 <3 heather, that Patagonia girl once upon a time

    • Reply This Free Bird April 6, 2016 at 12:49 am

      Heather, I miss and think about you STILL to this very day. I hope you are well and am so encouraged seeing your words here. The past few years have been such unchartered territory for me, but the one constant message has been ‘get quiet, be still’. I firmly believe it’s the only way to make sure I’m heading in the right direction (even though it feels as though I’m standing still). Hope to see you in the Bay someday. xox

  • Reply Elena January 2, 2016 at 6:05 am

    You are a true gem friend. I’ve been considering starting a new blog, but haven’t summoned up the commitment, or courage to do so. Thank you for sharing your life and being such an inspiration! Wishing you so much goodness in 2016. <3

    • Reply This Free Bird April 6, 2016 at 12:47 am

      Elena, I’m just answering this now but THANK YOU! I’d read anything you wrote and am so glad 2016 is off to a wonderful start for you and Will. xoxo

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