On Growing Up

January 16, 2014

I wrote this after I had a stroke in late 2012. I never published it and shut down my blog soon afterwards.

Chris took this picture on Sunday when we were on our way out. It was his first real night off in almost 2 months, so I hollered for him to hurry and snap a couple so we could get on the road. Kind of wishing I had a shot of my face now.

That night we had a nice, long dinner at our favorite place and went to see The Master. It was the best.

What I’ll always remember about that day was laughing, how aware I was of how relaxed I felt, thinking it was so weird to have a sprig of Douglas Fir in my drink, and how happy our friend looked when he talked about getting married and his great string of luck work-wise. I felt like I was catching up, like the stars were finally aligning.  It was good grown-up stuff and I thought maybe I’d turned the bend.

After we got home I woke up in the middle of the night because my cheek was twitching. I tried to lift my hand to touch my face, but couldn’t. I tried to turn my head toward the clock to see what time it was, but couldn’t do that either. The right side of my face and arm were paralyzed and I couldn’t open my eye or move my tongue. It was really scary. I couldn’t talk, move or even make a sound. In a deep, groggy haze I struggled to stay awake, but couldn’t even manage that. I remember thinking if I was going to die, I’d rather just drift off in that direction.

In the morning I woke up with what I thought was a very bad migraine headache. My right arm and the side of my face and neck were, and still are, incredibly weak.  I’m having a tough time walking and remembering simple, everyday things I’ve known for a long time. All day yesterday I tried to tell myself I’m all right. I think I’ve been doing that a lot lately. Telling myself everything is going to be okay.


I don’t want to be bald, I don’t want my hair to fall out, I don’t want to have sparsely grown eyebrows, I don’t want to get injections in my head anymore, I don’t want to feel tired and stressed and sad all of the time and I SURE AS SHIT DO NOT WANT TO HAVE A STROKE.

But as it turns out, I did.

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  • Reply Nadia May 23, 2014 at 5:50 am


    I followed your blog a few years back and am just revisiting after coming across your IG the other day. I am sorry to hear about your stroke. I remember clicking to read your blog one day and it was gone and I thought to myself, “But she is such a great writer!”. Your blog is one of the few blogs that feel honest and real. I hope each day that passes brings you more strength than the last, and know that by sharing your story and journey, you continue to inspire your readers.

    xo Nadia

    • Reply This Free Bird May 23, 2014 at 6:55 am

      Nadia, I totally remember you and can’t tell you how much your kind words mean to me!! It has been a pretty tough year or so and I finally feel like I’m coming out of it a little – even though I’m nervous to say it out loud because I don’t want to jinx myself 🙂

      Thank you so very, very much for your comment and for remembering me. It means more than I could ever express to you in words. I hope you are well!

  • Reply lena March 4, 2014 at 7:32 pm

    Dear, dear friend–I don’t know how I missed this (seriously, damn Bloglovin) but as soon as I read it, I just wanted to bum-rush you with love. Catching up on what’s been going on with you, and hoping to provide positive energy and support always.

    • Reply This Free Bird March 5, 2014 at 12:08 am

      Hey, no worries. I just linked to bloglovin yesterday and hadn’t talked about it much until recently, so there’s no way you could have known. Thank you for the well wishes, I’ll take every one 🙂

  • Reply krystal/village February 8, 2014 at 12:05 pm

    wow carrie i’m in shock! i haven’t been to your blog because I thought it was gone at some point and then I didn’t read blogs for awhile and then reader closed before i transferred all mine! so I had no idea what has been happening with you! Feels like I haven’t been there for a friend! You’ve always been one of my favorite writers though because I love how real you are – and down to earth. I hate that this has happened, and it does remind me how fast things can change day to day for any of us. But I hope you are better now? And all is right, or will be soon

    • Reply This Free Bird February 8, 2014 at 8:21 pm

      Hey Krystal, no sweat at all. The stroke happened a year ago and I just posted this last week when the site went live, so there’s no way you could have known. I’m a lot better now. Not the same, but okay and able to get back to most of what I used to do. Thanks for checking in. xo

  • Reply Elena February 7, 2014 at 1:09 am

    You ARE amazing. That is all.

    • Reply This Free Bird February 8, 2014 at 8:18 pm

      Thanks Elena. Mostly I just feel very grateful (and scared tbh).

  • Reply Elena February 7, 2014 at 1:09 am

    You ARE amazing. That is all.

  • Reply Judy Carpenter February 3, 2014 at 1:36 pm

    We overcome things every day and don’t think twice about it. But when something really serious happens, overcoming becomes a cause for celebration. I celebrate you.

    • Reply This Free Bird February 4, 2014 at 10:06 pm

      Thank you, Judy! And I’ll be doing the same for you!!

  • Reply Jessica February 3, 2014 at 12:18 pm

    Even though I knew you had a stroke, it’s still heart wrenching to read and I can’t begin to imagine how scary it was. I’ve always appreciated your honesty and your quick wit, but now I appreciate you for what a ray of light you are. You’re an inspiration, Carrie, I hope you know that. <3

    • Reply This Free Bird February 4, 2014 at 10:05 pm

      Thanks, Jessica. I really appreciate it and admit I’m sometimes still a dark cloud.

  • Reply Jasmin February 1, 2014 at 2:52 am

    Carrie, I just want to say what an inspiration you are! I have been following you on IG for quite some time now and had no idea this traffic thing happened to you. I don’t know you, and I’m sure you have your bad days like everyone, but you seem so happy and full of life in your pictures. Most people would just give up and accept their fate. You didn’t, and that’s way inspiring! Keep on keeping on girl 🙂


    • Reply This Free Bird February 1, 2014 at 7:48 pm

      Jasmin, thank you for this! You totally made me cry (in a relieved way). I didn’t want to say anything until I was ready and especially didn’t want to come across as feeling sorry for myself (although sometimes totally do). It’s good to know my instagram is filled with LIFE. Hooray!! I knew we followed each other on IG, but had no idea you knew about this place. You really made my day. Also, we have the same phone case and it’s basically amazing and why I can’t upgrade. LOL

  • Reply Allison February 1, 2014 at 2:45 am

    You are awe inspiring!

    • Reply This Free Bird February 1, 2014 at 7:43 pm

      Oh Allison, I think you’ve known me the longest of anyone here. I saw what you wrote on FB and want to say thanks. I’ll email you this week. Thought of telling you so many times this year, but wanted to kind of deal with/keep it to myself.

  • Reply Annelise February 1, 2014 at 2:16 am

    I love you. xx

    • Reply This Free Bird February 1, 2014 at 7:41 pm

      Annelise, we really need to get chips and salsa and dish on books. Major hugs to you.

  • Reply ms givens February 1, 2014 at 1:26 am

    Carrie, I dont know what to say except that I find you amazing. I had no idea and I hope you can consider all of us as your extended support team.
    Hugs from Okla.

    • Reply This Free Bird February 1, 2014 at 1:34 am

      Thanks so much Ms. Givens (btw I love that your handle is Ms. Givens). I don’t know about amazing but I am proud to be a survivor of this thing, and I really appreciate the support.

  • Reply Kristin January 31, 2014 at 10:37 pm

    You are amazing. I know that this has been a grueling experience and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. Your ability to rebound and push through all the crap it’s thrown at you is inspirational. I’ve been dealing with a chronic pain situation and at times it’s so hard to just get out of bed. Seeing someone like you persevere helps. Hugs always! xo

    • Reply This Free Bird February 1, 2014 at 12:26 am

      Thanks Kristin. My best advice is don’t give up on yourself and don’t be too hard on yourself. Always here if you need someone to talk to and happy to help in any way.

  • Reply Erika January 31, 2014 at 7:28 pm

    1. LOVE your new layout
    2. BRAVO for telling your story!
    3. girl, you are stronger then you ever will think – you got this – it WILL be ok
    4. never count yourself out – trust me on this!


    • Reply This Free Bird February 1, 2014 at 1:32 am

      Thanks Erika, you crazy animal. I know you get it gf.

  • Reply Jen January 30, 2014 at 11:29 pm

    Carrie, I can only imagine what a huge thing it was to publish this post. It just shows how strong you are. I love your positive attitude, thanks for sharing with so many, even those who haven’t met you in person! I hope this blog lets you know how many supporters you have out there!

    • Reply This Free Bird February 1, 2014 at 12:25 am

      Thank you, Jen. I really appreciate all of your encouragement!!

  • Reply Lindsay January 30, 2014 at 6:54 pm

    I can’t even imagine! You are such an amazing person. I have so much respect and love for you!!!! I’m so glad you to a long break to get back on the road of recovery. Giant hugs from Texas!

    • Reply This Free Bird February 1, 2014 at 12:24 am

      Thanks Lindsay! xo

  • Reply Dancing Branflake January 30, 2014 at 6:38 pm

    Even though I know the story, just hearing it in such detail broke my heart. And even though I know what happened next, I’m still wanting to hear it in your voice like this.

    • Reply This Free Bird February 1, 2014 at 12:23 am

      Will do my best. Not sure how much I’ll share here just yet.

  • Reply nicole January 30, 2014 at 2:03 pm

    oh carrie, i am in tears. you are an amazingly strong person, and your story shows how quickly our lives can change in ways we never expect. i hope you keep writing, especially in this place. the world needs honesty; real slivers of a lived life that aren’t always fucking glittery and shiny. you are (and always have been for me) a breath of complete fresh air. i’m happy you made it to the other side of this ordeal and are feeling strong enough to share. xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxo. you rock sister, and i wish your face had been in that picture too;)

    • Reply This Free Bird February 1, 2014 at 12:23 am

      Thanks, Nicole. Not sure I would have made it back here w/o your encouragement. xo

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