Saying Goodbye to My First Sport

Tomorrow. Tomorrow. I have been thinking about tomorrow, February 29th for a while now, and honestly I am dreading it. Besides the fact that it is a Monday and everyone dreads Mondays, it is going to be a really strange day for me.

Tomorrow I cheer my last game at UNC. Meaning I am one step closer to completely ending my career as a cheerleader forever.

To give you a little background for the magnitude of the above statements, I began cheerleading at age 4. The rec program in my hometown did not accept athletes until they were 5, but my mom begged the coach, I shed some tears and they let me in. Since that day, I have not gone a single day without being a cheerleader marking 18 years altogether. I went through the normal progression of recreational cheer, middle school team, plus one year of competitive, high school and now college. So I do not really remember a time where I was not a cheerleader.

But that moment is approaching quickly, too quickly.

Clearly I have always been drawn to the sport, and it was a point of motivation for me to pursue competitive gymnastics for 9 years (which I too found a passion for) in order to secure that I would have enough skills to make the varsity team in high school as a freshmen. I made that goal when I was 6. From then on I filled my weeks with countless hours of gymnastics practice, cheer practice, tumbling class and games year round, never giving my family or myself a break. But for me that was exactly how I wanted to spend my time, and I am beyond thankful that my parents supported it.

To say I have loved every second of this journey with cheerleading would be a lie. I often explain it to people as a love hate relationship.

Prior to college cheerleading was a hobby and the sport that I excelled at! I pushed myself so hard in the gym to learn and perfect new skills, both as a team and individually, many things that my peers or audience would never see. But it did not matter to me that most people would never understand the the sport I loved and the talent I had been gifted with, because conquering fears and mastering skills gave me a thrill I never wanted to lose. My experience with this sport taught me about self-discipline, teamwork, confidence, perseverance, enthusiasm, overcoming adversity, mental and physical strength and so much more.

On the contrary, cheerleading is hard. It sometimes frustrates me to my core. It is a sport based around appearances, which is quite frankly just plain shallow. Because of this, there have been times when I have felt unloved, too flawed, inadequate, pressure to conform, angry, judged, judged and judged some more, etc. There were most definitely times in my life were I made cheerleading an idol. I have been guilty of placing too much importance on cheerleading and therefore let it determine my self-worth and value. Like many other cheerleaders, I made numerous sacrifices such as skipping a senior prom, missing social gatherings and vacations, working my body until it will forever be injured because it all seemed worth it. This is slightly embarrassing, but I even prayed harder for things involving cheerleading than anything else in my life.

Oftentimes I have questioned whether the good really out weighs the bad. Finding the balance can be hard and it did not get any easier in college. Instead cheerleading became my job, a responsibility that carried a heavy weight. At times it lost some of the fun, but do not worry I found it again!

The joy that I have experienced throughout my cheerleading journey rose above everything else  which led me to choose this athletic path year after year.

Cheerleading has been one of the most constant things in my life; while the teams, atmospheres and situations changed the sport was always present. But soon it won’t be and I am honestly terrified of that. What emotions will I feel? Remember back to the first post I wrote, I am not a feelings person so makes me all the more nervous. Am I going to feel sadness, relief, peace, apathetic, excitement for a new stage of life or emptiness because I am losing such a large part of me? Will I experience an identity crisis? Maybe I will feel a mixture of all these emotions at some point, but who knows. All I know is that I am hopeful that I became a cheerleader because I am an encourager and not the reverse that way when this chapter fully closes I can be known as “Carly the encourager of life,” not just “Carly the Cheerleader.”

Know that when or if you say goodbye to something that once helped make you into the person you are, it is NOT all that you are!

My mom called a few hours ago and said “Tomorrow will be bittersweet won’t it?” I know many of my teammates and their families are feeling the same way. But yes, bittersweet seems fitting for now.

Spread contagious Joy & Laughter.

~Carly

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Photo courtesy of The News & Observer

 

Under Ever-Changing Skies

It is only Wednesday and it has already been a dreary, icky, long week. As thunderstorms are  rolling in casting nothing but gray skies and light rain mists over overhead, it seems as though everyone’s mood is matching the weather too. We are all drowsy, groggy and for sure do not want to be anywhere but at home under our warm covers.

Because of this, I decided that we all needed some uplifting inspiration to get us through the rest of the week. So I have searched through my hundreds of Pinterest pins to provide you with few of the most appropriate and best ones. Disclosure, I am a Pinterest junkie in the most positive way ever. My top pin categories include Food and quotes which I have title “#truths”- so original right?

So here is what I want to leave you with these quotes this week:

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Photo Courtesy of Pinterest.
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Photo Courtesy of Pinterest.

During the hard weeks it is very easy to get discouraged. In order to get out of that funk it is time to remember that everyone runs in to failures, but these are temporary (See some real examples here). Be excited about the life we are living and choose to not regret that!

By the way I have checked next week’s weather for all my Chapel Hill readers, looks like sunny skies are head our way! Happy Happy, Joy Joy!

Follow me on Pinterest to see lots of yummy food and word of truth!

Spread contagious Joy & Laughter.

~Carly

 

 

 

 

Deafening Disappointment

As time runs down you hold your breath and grab on to whoever is around you for dear life. The buzzer sounds, the crowd screams and colorful confetti falls. But it is not for you.

The visions of the victory quickly fade and you are left with an emptiness. While everything around you is in a loud uproar, somehow it is drowned out because you are in a daze. For me, I feel like I have been a part of too many of these moments. Yes, this topic is weighing on my mind because of the heartbreaking loss UNC endured this week, but that is not all. I have cheered at many big games and championships in both high school and college and more times than not received a discouraging ending. (Although the games that have ended miraculously have been added to the ‘Highlights of my Life’s’ list.)

A moment that is supposed to be filled with a spectrum of overwhelmingly happy emotions never happens. How do you prepare for this? You don’t, really. I mean technically you are always aware that it could happen because if not then you are too cocky, but if you focus too much on the negative outcome confidence is loss. There has to be a healthy, productive balance leaning a little more towards winning.

Disappointment is not only limited to sporting event. The atmosphere of having both ends of the spectrum (some people’s highs in the midst of other’s lows) in one place just makes it more visible. Unfortunately, this feeling has no boundaries; it can affect any person in any situation no matter the race, age, gender, etc. Whether it comes in the form of missed job offers, breakups, failed test, etc. we will all face it at some point. So why not stare it right back in the face when it comes your way?

Moments like these have the possibility to defeat you, but only if you allow it. Like many things in life, I believe it comes down to a choice. A choice to use these disappointments as motivation.

When you face these trails take time to reflect on the situation, usually many lessons can be learned. But do not dwell on it! Be aware of how your mind is recalling the events and processing them. If it is all a negative and hyper-critical tone then stop yourself from getting to that mental place, putting yourself down more will not be helpful. If you are sill struggling with this on your own ask a friend to keep you accountable, or write down every time you think about it in a nonproductive way in case you do not even realize it.

After reflection comes appreciation. Be thankful for the opportunity to fail; without the opportunity there is no option for growth! Then it is time to swallow your pride and get to work. Use these gut wrenching feelings as motivation to improve in a variety of aspects.

Currently, I am still waiting on my Peyton and Lucas moment from One Tree Hill, but until then I am going to try to enjoy the roller coaster of life. As cliche as it sounds do not let the disappointments of this world dull your sparkle, continue getting up time after time to chose to be triumphant. Sometimes being victorious is just a mindset, and I think we can all be winners!

Spread contagious Joy & Laughter.

~Carly

Photo courtesy of the ACC.

 

I Love Doing Nothing with You

In the spirit of the recent snow and ice days, I began thinking about things that make the difference between having a wonderful free day and a wasted, boring day. When we were younger any day off from school seemed magical and like a dream come true; (maybe our parents thought differently) no matter what the day consisted of it did not  make a difference because all we focused on was the sweet, sweet freedom from school. The more I age the more I notice people dreading days off due to the weather. People get super antsy and begin feeling “cabin fever” about an hour into their free day. Now, I understand that these days can potentially create more stress because it effects deadlines, work loads and sometimes a paycheck, but sadly I also feel that people just do not know how to sit and relax anymore. Many folks either get too stressed or bored to take in these types of days as a blessing! I believe there are two types of people during times of inclement weather , ones who view it as a day “stuck” at home and others who see it as a day to finally stay at home to enjoy some peace and relaxation.

While contemplating what makes the difference between a good snow day stuck at home or a boring snow day I came up with many reasons, but one rang much truer than others. So of course a large factor that can determine the course of the day is continuing to have power. This allows you to enjoy the beauty and fun of the wintry outdoors , but come inside and enjoy the warmth of a home at  your leisure. Additionally, nowadays Netflix can too make all the difference. You finally have an entire day to delight in countless hours of emerging yourself into the dramas of television shows and movies and you do not even have to feel guilty about it! But let’s strip all of that away for a second (scary, I know). I believe that the most important element in appreciating a snow day is who you have as your company to spend it with! In order to have the best experience you have got to be surrounded by those who you can enjoy doing nothing with.

Oftentimes I have heard this topic mentioned in reference to relationships…for example: “You will know you have found the one when it is someone you can do nothing with and still have fun.” But I completely think this goes for friendships as well! In life you will have an array of friends. You will have those friends that you always go and do something with, whether it is adventures, eating out, or going shopping; it does not really matter what but it is doing something. Then you will have a specific special group that you can literally do nothing with and still have an absolute blast! You genuinely enjoy doing nothing when it is your choice and also when you are forced to. The nothing action in this sense can mean laying around, literally not moving or partaking in activities that have entirely no significance to anything.

Luckily, I was able to find my group of pro-do nothings-ers when I moved in to my college suite full of a few girl roommates placed together randomly. Somehow all our craziness clicked and meshed together perfectly. Some of my favorite memories in college have come from the nights of doing nothing. From making lip syncing music videos in our dorm for no reason at all, to playing makeshift karaoke, to failing at acroyoga stunts, to burning Christmas trees on snow days, to sitting in silence with the comfort of knowing you are not alone.

I have found that these people are hard to come by, but when you find them do not under any circumstance let them go. They are your people, or for all you fellow Grey’s Anatomy lovers, they are “your persons.” I am continuously thankful that these girls choose to do the boring parts of life with me, and in turn things become less boring! I am so filled with joy by these people, and my wish is that you all find these special gems in your life too!

Spread contagious Joy & Laughter.

~Carly

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Give Me Croissants & I See the World

Mhmm…croissants! The buttery, flaky goodness that is lite and airy in your mouth, yet sweet and filling at the same time. The perfectly golden brown color that is just the right amount of a small crunch on the outside followed by a soft doughy inside. I think I could go on and on about details of this savory French pastry that will make  your mouth water. I bet you could now take a guess that I am a big fan of croissants, well  to be honest I just love all food in general, but in particular croissants! During the first few years of my undergrad experience another fellow croissant lover and I would always have a contest to see how many we could eat during brunch in the dining hall. I believe we got up to 6 a piece just as a warm up!

While you might be thinking this is a lot of mumbo jumbo it does serve a purpose, just follow along.

Since I really like croissants and croissants are from France then naturally, I too like France. Therefore, another thing you should know about me is that I really really want to go to Paris, France at some point in my life. This dream first started in middle school when I made a replica of the Eiffel Tower out of Popsicle sticks for a class project (talk about tough) and has been on the bucket list since.

It used to just be a dream to tell people, but I never knew if it would be something I could attain. Up until a few years ago I had never been on a plane. I used to look at taking a friend to the airport as a fun field trip because even the airport was something I had never experienced before! Finally, after nineteen years of being “ground bound” per say I got on my first flight on an amazing trip to California!

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And I looked pretty much like this the whole flight.

I was a nervous wreck on the flight, don’t worry we documented the whole thing, but it was like nothing I had ever experience before. There was a whole new perspective of beautiful views and sights I never knew existed. My favorite is looking down at a lit up city at night. It is incredibly breathtaking, and it reminds me just how small I am compared to this massive world! This trip is when I knew the dream of traveling to Paris will become a reality at some point in my life. I had now been bitten by the “travel bug” and would never be the same! It is so invigorating to explore a new city, taking in new sights, encountering different people and just living in a world full of limitless adventures for a while.

Since my first trip I have been lucky enough to travel to San Francisco, Charleston, NYC and Nashville all in just two years. I have found that not only is there excitement in traveling, but there is also freedom. Reflecting back I noticed that I have experienced lots of personal growth and maturing during these trips, because I began to find myself and find what in life makes me overwhelmingly happy! Traveling falls underneath that category. I have now started adding to the list that only contained one city for over half a decade, which is so exciting! I am literally able to see a personal passion grow. You might think it is strange, but when I see a croissant I do not just see a favorite food anymore, instead I see inspiration, different cultures and an aspiration. What will be the spark that ignites the specific passion for you?

If the dream is stirred in you and opportunities arise conquer your nerves and choose to explore the world to find what makes you insanely joyful!

Oh and don’t worry, I handle flights much better now!

Spread contagious Joy & Laughter.

~Carly

 

 

Changing Perspective Changes the Game

When introducing you to this blog I explained that I would be discussing things that I am going through or topics that many of us face and find the joy in each of them. Finding a genuine positive from situations in order to handle situations better, encourage others or just make the world a little brighter by having a new outlook on things. But what I failed to mention was how difficult this choice of action can be.

Currently, I am in a spot where I am frustrated with myself. Not for anything big, but just for how I am reacting to things. Some of these things are out of my control or do not affect me directly, yet I cannot stop myself from worrying, stressing and thinking about them. I’m typically a pretty logical person, meaning I am good at reacting sensibly and can walk myself through situations to find the right perspective. Which is great, but also frustrating at the same time. Mostly, because I know to tell myself to stop putting yourself through the negative feelings and simply have faith it will be fine and trust, but then my mind and my emotions either get either too entangled or all out of whack making it too difficult to listen to my own advice. This is when I have to take a reflective step back and say “Whoa Nelly, let’s get this in check.” If I continued the cycle of unsatisfying feelings nothing good will result. I will be emotionally weighed down and my smile a little less real. Here is where the choice comes in!

Then I choose to learn in stead of stress and grow in trusting the future instead of worrying, which is what I am in the process of doing right now. And in the process my smile spreads bigger and true joy fills me up allowing me to share it with others. Changing approaches and perspectives changes everything!

As you can tell choosing joy is honestly a task that we might never have down pat, including myself. It is something you have to work towards in every situation, everyday. Some might think you are just faking a feeling, but I say that it is bigger than just the choice of being “happy.” It is a mindset that can be life changing because you are choosing to not let the world and the situations thrown at you dictate how you feel and respond. It is like forever being the outlier, but in a good way which is something I love! When norms and standards and sterotypes are flipped and broken for the positive I get so ecstatic! It’s having a secret weapon to use on the world by reacting differently than the normal standards.

So I hope you continue this journey with me knowing it is okay to get frustrated at times and even I do not have it all together, but be encouraged that we are working to make ourselves and the world brighter!

Spread contagious Joy & Laughter.

~Carly

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