9 Lessons to Lead Through 2019

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Hello, friends. Have you missed me? Okay, very well. But have you missed me like I’ve missed me? Doubtful.

I hadn’t realized that this post was something lingering around in my head to write until one recent eve, standing at my kitchen counter, listening to a single song over and over again trying to learn the lyrics, and realizing the great deal of many other things out there that I’d still like to learn. All out of a sudden sorts this list started forming itself (with a little help from my friend my mental inside voice) and I had no other choice but to write it down. Then to write it down in a way that I could share with you as some of the lessons I want to lead myself through in 2019.

If that sounds ridiculous to you, it’s because it is. But don’t worry, these lessons are just as. I haven’t written much lately. To be too honest, it’s because I haven’t found much worth writing about. But over the past few weeks I’ve worked really hard at hardly really working, in an effort to force myself to repress the hyperdrive and just take stock. I scanned my body to see what it was unwinding to tell me, scanned my mind to see what the heck takes up all of the space in there, scanned my soul to see where on earth or elsewhere it wants to be. Settled into a deep breath and a shrapnel approach to this whole reflecting and resolving business.

These lessons I’m about to share with you are just one of the many jagged pieces, probably the one lodged into my spleen. Yes, I did think about adding “medical school” to this list and yes, I am on my 100th re-watch of the hit classic television series “ER.”

Last year was something, though, wasn’t it? I’m still trying to work out how it happened, how we got here to this point. The collective we, the we that is my mental inside voice and me, the we that is you, dear reader, and me, your dearest writer. Take your pick. My point is – I’m taking my sweet time to mull it all over. To understand what happened and why it happened and what I think and feel about what happened. To decide what I’m going to do and say about what happened. That takes a lot out of a woman, let me tell you.

I hope that most others out there are in the mulling it all over camp as well. Or maybe you’ve sufficiently mulled by this point. The new year has officially kicked itself off, after all. Just please oh please don’t be one of those people who think that reflecting, resetting, and resolving during this time of year is overrated. Life goes on! you may say. What’s new about it!? you may also say. New Year, New Chumps! Time still ticks!

Time does still tick. Your life may very well continue on. Humanity certainly will (at least for an ever so slight little while longer). But, that doesn’t mean that something isn’t out there beginning. How terribly uninteresting all of this would be if nothing ever began.

Maybe you’re not a “reflections” or “resolutions” person. Sure, I get it. Maybe goals are more your thing. Dream setting. Aspirations organization. Mind cataloging. Winter hippocampus cleaning. Whatever you want to call it. Do what you must. Or don’t. Either way, there is still so much more to come. For you, for me, for us. In it together. Deal?

Diatribe over; lessons abound.


Handwritten Stamina

Where has all the handwriting gone!? I recall spending years of my life in school only physically handwriting assignments. Now, I get through half of a thank you note before my knuckles start cramping. I whinge and I whine and then I turn to typing because, like many of my generation, I’m actually quite good at it. All those years of writing thousands of words of nonsense on the internet really paid off. But I miss a handwritten note, a letter, an anything. Time to bring that stamina back. This year, I’m penning things left and write (are you having that??).

The Step One: Repression of texting in favor of letters. So many letters. You want a letter? You got one.

Play the drums

I know, I know! Get it out now. In through the nose, exhale that exasperation right back out. I’ve been saying this one for years. We’ve all been here for it, evidence can be found all over this website. But this is the year, I can feel it. After all, it’s only a matter of time before that Foo Fighters CD really does make me break my steering wheel clean off of my car.

The Step One: My eyes have been trained on a potential lessons spot prize. Next weekend I’m stopping by to schedule my first lesson. Keep me accountable.

Conscientiousness

It’s exhausting to get to know yourself. I know I can’t possibly be alone in this one. I’ll be the first to admit that sometimes I go on autopilot. It’s a running joke that work-Cassie can become a bit of a machine. But when the machine runs for too long and you finally turn it off, sometimes it takes a second to remember what you’re like without it. This year I want to learn how to be more conscientious about what it’s like to steer the ship myself. No autopilot. Not just for work-Cassie but for all-Cassie.

This one is a little more abstract than the others, but it essentially boils down to making the effort to be more well-rounded. I had one of those moments when I was on the cusp of 20 (not as catchy as the edge of 17, trust me I know) which made me wholly and entirely comfortable in the knowledge of who I am. I’m incredibly thankful for that, I know it’s a fortune some others don’t have. But to keep it and, more importantly, to grow it – I’ve got to be aware of changing with the life and times.

The Step One: Plan more trips to make the effort.

Taste in Vino

I’ve gotten into a semi-aggressive wine drinking habit this year. Not semi-aggressive in a worrisome way, but in a completely contrary to my steadfast collegiate declarations of never drinking anything other than Bud Heavy and Guinness way. So far my libations of the vino variations have been isolated to one particular type and, to be frank with you (O’Hara, never Sinatra), I want to understand what it is about it that I like so much. What is my flavor palate’s profile picture, or whatever the heck you call it? As you can see, the only way to go is up.

The Step One: Try some new vino, I guess? I’m a big Argentinian Malbec drinker, but apparently this type of wine originated in Bordeaux so let’s head in that direction first. Yes, I am quite skilled at the 20-second Google scan.

Find My Narrative

My dream of dreams is still to become a published author. The number one commendation that teachers and professors would scribble into the corners of my papers was “good narrative voice!” But, in my opinion, that was always just me being me. Naturally argumentative about whatever it was they asked us to take a stand on because I’ll semi-literally argue someone to death on just about anything. Go ahead. Question me about being semi-literal.

Becoming an author, a true honest to goodness writer, is a completely different narrative voice. It’s not like me here writing to you. It’s not my voice that gets pulled through, but at the same time it is something that belongs to me. And I absolutely agonize over that. I’ve had such a hard time trying to sit down and write something that I’ve developed this fearful aversion to almost the entirety of the institution! And that, my dear reader, rightly and truly breaks my heart.

The Step One: Learn how to get over my fears of even trying. Find a routine and a safe space.

Flight School (hoo ha ha)

Yes, yes, this one is still around too. I want to learn how to fly an aircraft. Been there, said that. Still hasn’t happened. Met an Air Force vet on a flight recently and he gave me an extra little nudge. This will be the year.

The Step One: Research flight schools and schedule an intro-flight.

Talk It Down

Anxiety is something that I, along with 40 million adults in the United States, deal with more often than I’d like to. Worse, it’s still something that I get surprised by. This past year, my body caught me off guard… a lot. The usual signs that used to warn me, to tell me that something is coming and I need to take notice, weren’t the only ones anymore. New things cropped up and I didn’t listen. I wasn’t prepared. I didn’t realize what was happening. Lesson One learned.

Now for Lesson Two. This year I want to push myself a little bit, get a little scientifically experimental when those signs start coming around. Not in any sort of dangerous way, but I want to learn how to listen to myself. There are times when I get that chest feeling, that stomach feeling, that head feeling, and I just accept it. My fight or flight is flight, always flight, and I get the heck out of dodge. But why? What about that situation or place or person caused that? Is it actually my usual anxiety or just a weird feeling? Is something else going on? I never know! This year I vow to listen and to learn the ways to talk it down.

(As an aside, I know I keep saying that I’ll save my full dissertation on anxiety for another day and then that day never comes. I’ve had drafts on here since 2015, it’s just never felt like quite the right time to take it on. Mental health and wellness is something I’m incredibly passionate about – in personal and in professional – but it’s not that easy for me to strip out and write down. Please bear with me a little longer.)

The Step One: I’ve devised a little system to keep record of the various “waves” of anxiety that I experience. I’m an analytical type of gal. Fingers crossed we can make sense of it.

Play Golf

Someone gave a presentation on golf at a work event recently and I loved every second of it. We talked swings, we talked courses, we talked luck, we talked calculations. There’s always been this threat of mathematics to the people of my skill level (read: novice), but very rarely has anyone ever actually offered to explain them. I keep meaning to become a better (read: just flat out ‘a’) golfer, because I feel like it’s an affront to my Scottish heritage to not learn and also because I’m really looking forward to the day when I absolutely crush an old white guy out on the course. Let’s call it The Old Course, shall we? According to the presentation, golf is mostly mental and luckily so am I.

The Step One: North Carolina has some great golf courses, so I’m on the hunt for one of the lesser great ones. Preferably one in possession of a driving range. Also going to research all the names of the clubs. A driver is definitely a thing.


Please do come back around from time to time. I’m trying my best to get both of us back to this space more often in the coming months.

Until then, I’ll be off in search of some Tales.

6-in-6: My Halfway Bucket List

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Although I tend to opt for reflections over resolutions when we hit those end of December days, that doesn’t mean that I don’t have a list of things that I want to accomplish throughout the year. My beginning half of 2016 was pretty action packed, but as I settle into a new home and a more routine life (at least for a little while) I wanted to make sure that I was still pushing myself to try new stuff.

So, I came up with this list of 6 things I want to do in the next 6 months.


1. Complete a basic coding class

Computer Science school drop-out doesn’t quite have the same ring to it, but I’m sure Boys2Men as Teen Angel(s?) would have made it work. Please, someone out there appreciate the reference…

I started college as an Information Science major, if we’re going to get specific about it, and only lasted about half the semester before switching into Finance. My reasoning used to be that I didn’t have the brain for coding, but I’ve since decided that that excuse is entirely inaccurate. It’s more like I just couldn’t keep up with the speed of the classes. I wasn’t entirely new to this, I had done some beginner HTML and C++ in high school, but it was still hard to get a handle on! A year or two ago I tried teaching myself how to code again and it’s… still a struggle. So I’ve been looking at some open source courses and decided THIS is the year I’ll do it. I’ll get to the finish line and I’ll get there at my own pace.

2. Start drum lessons

Another story of prior failures in life: I’m not musically inclined. Not to say that I haven’t tried (violin, saxophone, guitar, chorus) but I never found something to stick with (aside from singing Paramore’s greatest hits in my shower) and I’ve wanted to get into drumming for a while now! It’s impossible for me to listen to music without moving, whether it be tapping a finger or bouncing a leg or flailing in circles screaming the lyrics to S Club Party with friends at a “silent” disco. Drumming felt good for me to get into so I’ll let you know how that goes.

3. Cross-stich Christmas

This is the year for a crafty Christmas. Believe it or not I started working on things for people in January and I’m determined to give my close friends and family personally cross-stiched gifts. I’m not ruining any surprises with this announcement because who knows exactly what they’ll get cross-stitched for them? That being said, funny suggestions are appreciated.

4. Visit 6 new states

I’ve moved to an entirely new region of the United States of America and as a newbie, I want to explore my surroundings a bit. It’s absolutely ludicrous to me that I’ve been bitten by this home country wanderlust bug all of a sudden when I spent the other 22 odd years of my life within a 6 hour driving distance of 10 other states and 1 other country and did I do much exploring of them? Honestly, not really. Now all of a sudden I’m like “woo! gonna take a weekend trip to Cincinnati!” The good side of this is that I’ll have so many voyages to share with you.

5. Go up in a small plane

In recent years I’ve developed a fear of flying, which is utterly insane given how much I’ve travelled in said recent years. My brain has started to rationalize that the fear is coming from the element of unknowingness. Since I don’t know the technicalities of how we’re flying and how the pilots are controlling the craft, it makes me that much more panicky. And I mean really panicky, like tears streaming down my face mid-flight panicky. How do I figure I’ll confront this fear? I’ve got it in my head to maybe get my pilots license. But baby steps! Let’s get me up in a smaller airplane first and see how that goes.

6. Make lasagna from scratch

Being one of my favorite foods, I reckon I should learn how to make it. When I was in Ireland I spent some time with an Italian couple who were amazing cooks and they shared a few secrets of the trade. Let me know if you want in on the taste test!

23 Thoughts On Turning 23

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I started working on this list a month or so ago, jotting down thoughts whenever they struck me of what I wanted the coming year to be like. Most are silly, some are serious – coincidentally how I would also describe the LinkedIn “photo shoot” outtakes I’ve included here. Realized it’s fun to document these things, especially for the sake of looking back a few years from now to see the changes.

Thanks for having me, 23. I’m super excited to be here.


1) Stop rounding up your age before you get there. You’ve got all of next year to be that old.

2) Eat more potatoes.

3) Eat less chocolate.

4) Always give your little brother a hug when you come home.

5) Keep poison out of your heart.

6) Another year gone by, another every-Sandra-Bullock-movie-marathon gone undone. JUST DO IT.

7) Hydrate.

8) Don’t force it.

9) Tell your friends that you’re proud of them because you are.

10) Have courage & be kind.

11) Crush that new job.

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12) Stop assuming the worst – sometimes the friendly stranger is just a friendly stranger.

13) Remember to miss the snow every once in a while.

14) Make yourself laugh every. single. day. (you’re very good at this, shouldn’t be a problem)

15) Follow those gut feeling first instincts. Instead of not doing that and immediately regretting it 99.87% of the time.

16) Don’t pet the sweaty things.

17) Never give a half-hearted hug. Bear or bust.

18) Surround yourself with more plants, they make you very happy. Just try to stop naming them, cause then they make you sad when they inevitably die.

19) Ask people to tell you their stories.

20) Learn some natural remedies.

21) Be prepared to lose arguments and practice taking it graciously.

22) Bite to ten. Your heart will feel happier after not saying what your flip-switch temper wants you to.

23) This is the year… to listen to more Incubus. (2009’s “Monuments & Melodies” – ENOUGH SAID)

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Forewarn the Madness: A Look Back @ 2015

Mid-December. The point in time where we, as a collective society, begin drafting up our resolutions for the coming new year. Oftentimes they’re about the things we didn’t do, the aspirations, the lifestyle changes. Some might say that making that list is easy. “1) Get a 6-pack. 2) Visit Peru. 3) Call my mom once a week.” But it’s the big ticket items we have a harder time coming up with, if we even think to focus on them at all. How many times have you thought: “You know, I just want to be a nicer person next year.”

The world around us is tumultuous, to say the very least, and I’m not going to go into any more detail than that because we’re all very aware of the lives we get to look forward to living. This year, I’m all about the planning. Something tells me that the next twelve months are going to be even more of a whirl than the last twelve and I want to be prepared! I want to forewarn the madness. It’s not always about “new year, new me.” In fact, we wouldn’t even be able to figure out who we want that “me” to become without the subconscious assistance of all the things we just went through.

So rather than a list of resolutions for next year, I’m going to reflect back on the things that happened to me throughout this one: the wonderful and the most painstakingly terrible. Not in any way comprehensive, but just a quick brainstorm of the major impacts. Then, let’s see if they can can help me find 2016’s big ticket.


The Worst

  • Lost my raison d’etre, my main man, the core of my life in October and it’s been hard but I keep on moving cause I know that he’d expect nothing less.

The Best

  • Survived an entire year living by myself
  • Made it to the age of 22 without a single… okay, with minimal scratches
  • Walked a marathon

My lifetime bucket list included running the Boston Marathon but the older I get the more I realize that I just hate running. In September my mother lost her friend, coworker, and Just Wings team captain Vicki to the battle against cancer so I agreed to do the entirety of the Jimmy Fund Walk with her. The Walk follows the same route as the Boston Marathon and wow – this was easily the most mentally and physically challenging thing I’ve ever done. I’m a huge fan of walking, I prefer it to any other method of transportation (driving around in the summertime with a frappuccino not included), but this was tough.

So proud of myself for making it 26.2 miles, but more importantly I’m proud of my mom for her own physical endurance and for inspiring me to get to that finish line for us. Andddddd I’ll never do that again. See you at the 3-mile marker next year, Mom!

  • Studied abroad at the University of Cambridge

The thing that made this experience so powerful for me was that it was the first time I got to study something I love. It’s a sad reality that this must be what life is like for people who picked passion over practicality. I won’t go into my time abroad too much, but you can read all about it in past posts.

  • Got a “real job” in the Spring, which made going through the Fall semester a lot more relaxing without that added stress. I’ll be moving to Charlotte, NC next year so Welcome To Adulthood, Cass!
  • Took the creative plunge and shared this blog with the world. Still amazed anyone cares to read it.
  • Went to see Cinderella in theaters four times this year (it really affected me, what can I say?) and the message is still stuck with me to promote to you now: Have courage and be kind.
  • Completed my undergraduate degree

W H A T ? ? ? Absolutely reeling from the fact that my college experience is over. Bittersweet doesn’t seem like a strong enough adjective to encompass the feeling of knowing that these past 4.5 years flew by and yet there are still so many years of adventure ahead of me.

  • Met wonderful, incredible people in wonderful, incredible places. Some at home, some abroad, all who made the biggest impact on me as a person. Thank you for making me lucky enough to call you a friend.

First – this exercise has made me realize how fortunate I am to have a dozen good things and only one bad. Granted, the one is worth more than the dozen all pooled together but still. In short, what a year.

Second – I found my big ticket, my focus! 2016 will be a year of showing people that I love them, be it new friends or old friends or family or strangers. Never feeling embarrassed or hesitating to say it to a best friend or a little cousin. Love is not allocated on a per group basis; it’s a different strand for every individual being out there. We feel it in lots of different ways, but how often do we communicate that?

A big example of one of those ways (which I like to stress a lot) is self-love. That concept is something I feel very privileged to have in my life. Not a day goes by where I don’t count myself lucky for being happy with the things I’ve done and the person I’ve become. This is not a sentiment meant to be gloating, but rather sanguine. And so my hope is for everyone else in the world to realize their own rarities and achieve that kind of happiness as well; to live lives so abundantly full of wonderful experiences. Anything I can do to help others feel happy and loved, that’s what I’ll resolve to do in 2016.

A friend sent me an article the other day that really contextualized the importance of time, or rather the importance of being aware of time. We don’t get enough of it, do we? Just another reason not to waste the opportunities to make a person feel that they’ve got someone out there rooting for them, proud of them, and loving them.

So congratulate yourself on all the things you overcame this year and pick your big ticket focus for the next one. If you want to stick with calling your mom once a week, I guess that’s okay too.