Saturday, September 28, 2013

Misty, Purple Colored Memories

So last Saturday there was the Evansville Jazz and Wine Festival. This was the 6th annual, and of the 6, I have attended five.

Here's a photo history of my wine fest tenure:

So I gathered a sweet group and headed back for year five. This year, we decided not to wait until we got to the festival to start tasting wine and got a couple of bottles to drink on the trip. (Sorry, Mom.) However, we wouldn't let our fearless leader have any until we got there. And then he did this:  

And this: 

When we got to the fest, there may or may not have been two members of our group who were already feeling pretttttty good. So we proceeded to start terrorizing the people at this festival. I feel relatively confident I told more than one winemaker that his 'grape juice' was delicious and said more than once--way too loud-- that certain wines had 'gone bad.' I also feel confident that I can't recall all of the details of the evening, but I do know these facts.

--April left her cell phone in a restaurant bathroom. They were none to happy that we busted in there demanding to use a toilet, because apparently there are 'rules' against that sort of thing.

--In said bathroom, I randomly tied a pink ribbon to April's shoe and told her to keep it forever. And she did. 

--We purchased these sweet redneck wine glasses which I call 'roadies.' (See earlier comment about drinking in the car.)

--Destiny made friends with a bathroom attendant. 

--I accidentally said to a very attractive, yet married man 'on a scale of 1-10, how married are you?' And by accidentally, I mean absolutely on purpose. The wine made me do it.

--He said 7. 

--I spent a ridiculous amount of money buying a ridiculous amount of wine. I won't tell you exactly how much, but I will say I was actually scared to check my bank account the next morning.

--Destiny coined my newest nickname: wine ninja. Because apparently she didn't see me buy a single one of the 16 bottles of wine I purchased. 

--I kept a quote page, and these were only the ones I was sober enough to write down: 

I think he has his dentures in backward. 

Wine milkshake brings all the boys to the yard.  

I smell frosting. What are y'all doing back there?

April to Destiny: It drops 2 degrees and white girls gotta start wearing knee boots 
Casi: Umm I'm wearing knee boots. 

If JessicaBiel and Julia Roberts made a baby, it'd be a f***ing horse. 
...a Shetland pony.

Don't call me a b*tch.
But you called me an MF. (This quote has not been censored. He actually said M.F.) 

Casi to Destiny: How are you gonna try any wine with that full glass? 
Destiny: I'm gonna tell them just to pour it on top. 

If you don't watch sharknado, something is wrong with you. 

Chris: How did you just 'like' the Ellen Degeneras show on Facebook? It just popped up: Casi Clark likes the Ellen Degeneras show 

--Allegedly, I tried to steal a golf cart. I can neither confirm nor deny these allegations. Mostly because I don't remember that part.

--Destiny fell asleep mere minutes into the trip home. But when we got back to Chris and April's, she got her second wind. Which was good because: 

--We had a porch party! We literally had a wine-infused dance party on Chris and April's porch, and Kevin and his friends even came down to dance with us. These poor young soles now think 30 looks like purple teeth and dancing barefoot on a porch to early 90's rap songs. 

All-in-all, it was a historically funny night, and word on the street is that April is already gearing up for next year and searching for other wine festivals that we can attempt to get kicked out of.  I, for one, almost had a golf cart we could've driven around the next wine fest. But, laws. 

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Last Beginnings

A wise fortune cookie fortune once said 'Do not give up, the beginning is always the hardest part.'

While I agree with this sentiment, I also hold the belief that most times, the beginning is the best part.

Think about good beginnings. The beginning of a vacation when your excitement level is immeasurable, and you feel so positive about the days ahead. The beginning of a really good book that once it sucks you in, you can't put it down. The beginning of a friendship when you feel like you've known the person your whole life, but still have so many memories to make. The beginning of a great love when every first--your first date, your first kiss, the first time you realize how much you like him--feels like it could sustain you for a lifetime. Beginnings, to me, while sometimes tough, are always the best part.

A good friend of mine recently shared with me an incredibly wise perspective. My friend Kelsey is this insanely intelligent, driven, beautiful 24 year old woman who is exactly where I was at 24. She is anxious and excited to know where life is taking her. What city, what career, what relationship, and what future lies ahead of her is what excites her, and also makes her a little nervous. But recently when discussing where we both were in our love lives, she said to me, 'but you know what? I'm not really sure I'm ready for my last beginning.'

We share the same love of beginnings, and being at such a transitional time in her life, she has this amazing perspective that if something ends, it just means there's another exciting beginning waiting for her. I was shocked and mesmerized that someone so young could have such an amazingly wise perspective.

I think at 30, I've experienced a lot of my last big beginnings. I think I'm surrounded by most of the friends who will be my friends for life. Those friends who will make up all of the supporting roles in the story of Casi and be there through it all. So when it comes to friendships, there may not be a lot of beginnings left for me. I work in a job that I love so much, they'll have to force me to leave kicking and screaming. So on the career front, I may very well have had my last beginning. I feel mostly confident that I live where I need to live and live a life that I was destined for. So that doesn't leave a lot of room for new beginnings.

But then there's love. I've experienced more than my fair share of great beginnings in love. I've been swept off my feet, I've had friendships that turned into love, and I've felt the slow burn of gradual love. While all unique and special in their own way, each of those loves has ended, been taken, or faded away. But one thing is for sure, each of those endings has been followed by a new and greater beginning.

I have no idea if I've yet experienced my last beginning in love. I have no idea what my future holds or what God's plan for me is. But I know I'm excited and eager to find out. I know that if I have, in fact, had my last beginning, that there is a lifetime of firsts waiting for me. A lifetime of true and unconditional love where every single day is a new beginning.

But knowing that at the end of everything awaits a new and exciting beginning, how can I not be perfectly happy and at peace knowing that someday when I realize I've experienced my last beginning that there is a lifetime of sharing new beginnings with the very person who was my very last beginning?

Sunday, September 22, 2013

A Peace of Paradise

Recently while vacationing, I felt something I'm not sure I've ever felt before. There were several times throughout the week that I started feeling this strange sense of being uncomfortable. I was in paradise, I was surrounded by incredibly generous and hilarious people, I didn't have to work or clean my house or talk about college or worry about stressors looming over me. And yet, I was uncomfortable. Finally, I spent one quiet day at the beach reflecting on what was making me feel this way and one philosophical conversation with a friend brought it all to light.

I was feeling at peace on this vacation. I wasn't worried or stressed or over thinking or overcommitted or exhausted. I was so at peace, in fact, that it made me uncomfortable. It was this indescribable feeling that I was exactly where I needed to be in each moment and doing exactly what I needed to do. I was grateful and connected and centered and happy to a point where it was almost a foreign feeling. Life was just perfect, and I wasn't used to that. What was wrong was that there was absolutely nothing wrong. And once I realized that, I started to really like it.

I knew when I returned home that I wouldn't be able to maintain this peacefulness every second of every day. Things will stress me out, upset me, wear me down. But knowing that this indescribable level of peace exists and can be achieved gives me hope that I can bring some of it home with me into my every day life. And maintaining the realization that in life I am exactly where I'm supposed to be may make all the difference.

Home isn't paradise. And some things at home use up my energy more than they give me energy. There is stress and hurt and anxiety and worry at times. But maybe I can bring home a little of the peace of paradise. Maybe this feeling of complete weightlessness can exist during moments of real life too. But knowing that somewhere out there exists a level of peace beyond your understanding and comfortability is enough to make you want to feel it every single day.

Marble Jar Friends

I have been reading the book Daring Greatly by Brene Brown. If you haven't heard of her, do yourself a favor and look up her work. It will change your life.

In this book, she references a very good lesson her young daughter learned about betrayal and how she related it to a classroom incentive her daughter's teacher implemented.

The teacher had a marble jar on her desk and as the class made collectively good decisions, she added marbles to the jar. If they were making poor choices, she removed marbles from the jar. When and if the marbles reached the top of the jar, the students were rewarded.

After an experience of betrayal, the author related the marble jar activity to friends and had her daughter recite friends who, in life, added marbles to her jar while other friends might be the ones to take out the marbles.

After reading this anecdote , I stopped to think on my marble jar for a moment. In life, I've been really really blessed to have so many friends who fill my marble jar. The friends who keep your secrets, the friends who love and support without judgement, the friends who were there when things fell apart, the friends who helped put me back together.

Of course, I've had a few friends who have removed marbles from my jar. Either they were friends who took more than they gave or felt entitled to rewrite the stories I was living, or generally really great friends who stumbled, judged, acted selfishly or handled things poorly. But luckily, despite those people or those moments, my marble jar stays full, and every day I am rewarded with these generous and loving people in my life.

I hope to be a friend who adds marbles to the jars of people in my life. I hope that I return the favor of being someone who can be confided in and trusted to love without abandon. I aspire to be the friend who each of my friends can go to when they need a shoulder, a new perspective, or a stiff drink. And if there's a day when I act selfishly or handle something poorly, I hope my friends can tell me I'm taking marbles from their jar, allow me to apologize, and replace the marbles. I want to be a marble jar friend. Because if life has blessed me with so many and filled my jar so fully, the least I can do is give of my marbles freely and without expectation. After all, these marble jar friends, so many times, have been the ones to keep me from losing all of my marbles.

People who fill my marble jar:

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

All Roads Lead to ?????

Have you ever found yourself traveling somewhere, your GPS doing a great job of thinking for you, when the voice coming through that small black box goes silent, you glance down to see only 'lost signal' and ahead of you, you're faced with a multitude of ways to turn but no earthly idea which direction is the right one to take you on your journey?? (Also, have you ever written a sentence THAT long? That's beside the point.)

Lately I have been feeling like my GPS isn't working. I know I'm on a journey, I know there is a destination, but when I listen for the voice, it's silent and when I look for the path, I see the screen is still loading.

If you read my blog a million years ago when I actually found the time and motivation to write, you know I absolutely thought I had my life mapped out for me. A simple life on a beautiful farm with a wonderful SO who would someday be the father of my children, and we'd find ourselves--in twenty years--old people rocking on the porch talking about the great travel and the little things and the moments that made our life so great. Except that somewhere along the line, I spilled wine all over that map and lost my way.

Now I find myself sitting at the intersection of adulthood wondering which road I'm supposed to turn down, not hearing a damn peep from the 'ole Garmin!

It's not a cake walk. I can't say I don't want to hear some kind of navigational tip, I can't say I don't want someone to tell me which road to take, and I can't say I have a naturally keen sense of direction. But I can say: it's not all that bad.

I don't know where life is taking me. I don't know exactly what God has in store for me, but I do know it's going to be pretty amazing. It's going to be better than I could ever imagine.

And at least, while I'm sitting here wondering which road is the right one for me, I can enjoy the adventure!

"Author's" note: (haha, yeah I totally put that in quotes!) After a break and an array of changes in my life, I've happily come back to blogging! Head over to to read my guest post about the last couple of months of my life. And keep visiting them for more great guest bloggers and a pretty spectacular line-up. Also, keep checking back here to see how long I last before the throwing in the towel again. Just kidding, I promise to stick around for at least a little while.

Monday, October 22, 2012

A Few Perfect Days in a Few Perfect Pictures

Hey few blog-readers that are left now that I post once in a blue moon because I'm crazy busy and focusing on other things--

Just wanted to check in and tell you that I had a nearly perfect week and weekend. I remember the week being really great, but don't remember too many specifics, because I am still super busy. Work is going well (how's that for being overwhelmed?), and I got to hang out with my awesome family and carve pumpkins!

Kevin wasn't too grumpy

And Jack isn't too big for me to hold like a baby

And, clearly, he gets his good looks from me.
This weekend, I got to see my little man's first football game, and then spend some time with the Clark fam (bro Chris, sis-in-law April (and her band!), and not so little man Jack) at Reid's Orchard Apple Fest. It was a complete blast.

Then, Joel and I spent some quality time together loving on each other (c'mon, people, I mean the PG kind of love) and visiting a beautiful winery. It was a perfect Sunday to do so, and we got a chance to ask the couple who owns the winery all about raising grapes and making wine, in case Joel ever wants to make all my dreams come true by building and opening a winery on the back 40 acres of our land. They would love for us to come back and stay in their bed and breakfast (for free?? Did you say for free??), and talk over dinner more about how we can be wine drinkers makers.

We also met another couple who want us to come back to their parts (Indiana) and have dinner with them, because they think we're the cutest couple ever (because we are).

Perfect few days, I'll tell you. Tonight, we have our fourth and final debate date. I'm excited.

And, for your viewing enjoyment, the way I've been spending my free time:

Hanging out with this cute baby 

And this cuddly guy

And, on occasion, both at once.

Generally loving my life

Because, have you seen my SO? He's amazing!

Even after a big, greasy meal saying, "please don't take a picture. I know it's just going on your blog."

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Back on the Bloggin' Wagon

I'm sure you noticed I haven't been blogging lately. Oh, you didn't? Well, let's pretend you did and cried yourself to sleep each night that I didn't post.

Good, I feel better already.

Here's the thing: I had to kind of break up with my blog for a while. I'd love to say that life got busy, and I had to be a grown-up (get it??), and deal with important stuff rather than spend 30 mins to an hour every day sitting in front of the computer trying to think up things to write and attempt to be semi- funny. But that's only partly true.

The whole truth is that my life hasn't felt very funny lately. It's felt hard. Really hard. I wrote about overcommitment, and then I've talked to almost everyone I know about feeling overwhelmed (good life tip: don't talk about feeling overwhelmed at work. The cheese stands alone). Talking has helped, I guess. But I still, for the past couple of weeks, have felt like every time I turn around I am disappointing someone or failing in some area. And that shit is not funny. It's also not funny that I have had a mini-virus, a full fledged virus, and a someone-shoot-me-in-the-head-please kinda sinus infection all in the last couple of weeks. I've come to the conclusion that the talking about being overwhelmed was not just talk, because my body MADE me shut down for a few days so I didn't die or cry at one more inappropriate time.

But this weekend has been pretty great so far. I didn't have pressing commitments and have been able to spend some time with myself thinking through the awesome things I've achieved in the past, and how I will do some pretty badass things in the future. I've made it through worse, and I probably will survive even worse things than this rut. So I'm feeling much better.

I also have taken this opportunity to consider how I want to spend my time. Since it seems that lack of time is the big culprit that sends me into downward spirals, I have to be a better steward of it. I want to spend my time with the people I love most in the world, and first and foremost care for my primary relationship (that's Joel. He's my future, so he deserves the best of me. That doesn't mean that people from my past are less important, so everyone calm down and take a deep breath. I am just a firm believer that your 'person' comes before others, and I intend to act that way). I want to make time for the people who make time for me. As a grown-up friend, I will nurture friendships in which the support door swings both ways. That, in fact, was a 2012 resolution. I can't fret over relationships that, at the end of the day, are more stressful than rewarding. And I want to be really, really good at my job. That doesn't necessarily mean it has to BE my life, but it does have to be an important use of my time. I want to take more time for me. I can't feel guilty about passing on things that will keep me from being in bed around 9:30 or so, because I am simply someone who needs 8 hours of sleep (or maybe 9, sometimes 10). And I will do things for myself like have decompression time, solid time to keep my personal life in order (basically that means I have to make the bed every day, because I'm a little crazier when it's not made), and time to do things I love with people who I enjoy.

And finally, I want to be more grateful. I want to be grateful for being brave enough to stand up and say 'hey, life has gotten me down, I need a change.' I know it's not funny and it's not very much fun to hear those things, but sometimes they have to be said and dealt with. No one can be happy and fun one hundred percent of the time. I want to be grateful that I feel confident in the life I have chosen. Because I chose it. I am happy living the life of Casi, and not the life that everyone wants/expects/needs Casi to live. This life, although not always a cake walk, makes me incredibly happy. I want to be more grateful for supportive family and friends who give without expecting anything in return, who don't decline my phone calls because they know I'm calling to vent yet again, and who love me and all my crazy glory. I want to be more grateful that I have a job that fulfills me and is solid, important work, despite sometimes being really, really exhausting. And I want to be more grateful that I have a wonderful man in my life who loves me and cares for me even when I wake up in the middle of the night and yell at him because it's too hot, or when I don't clean the litter boxes often enough (I thought we had a deal, dude??), and when I come home from work so upset that I sob and drink wine so furiously and simultaneously that it's clear that I am one big mess. I want to be more grateful that, when it's all said and done, I wouldn't really change a thing. I live a wonderful life, am surrounded by amazing people, do important work, and have someone who will adjust the temperature in our house 70 times a day for me and get up in the middle of the night and scoop cat sh*t because it's making me gag. I am superbly blessed, and it's about damn time I start acting like it.