A New Year. A New Word.

We gain strength, and courage, and confidence by each experience in which we really stop to look fear in the face…we must do that which we think we cannot. -Eleanor Roosevelt


I always like fresh starts. New beginnings. The start of a new year. A brand new calendar without a single commitment written down in it…yet.

Last year, I wrote out an entire Word document of goals – four single-spaced pages – it was too much. Unattainable. This year I’m keeping it simple. Instead of starting with a list of goals, I’m taking a cue from one of my favorite writer/photographers, Susannah Conway, and just starting with a word.




Every time I write something and send it out publicly for people to read…I put a little bit of myself out there and that makes me vulnerable. Vulnerable to both approval and criticism. Like and dislike. Understanding and dismissal.

Every time I take a photograph and put it out there for people to look at…a little bit of me is in that photograph and once again, that makes me vulnerable.

That vulnerability can be downright scary.

There are many days when I doubt my abilities and think, “Why am I doing this? Who wants to read this? Who wants to look at this? Who cares what I have to say, or show, or cook?“

And yet, I continue on. Because it’s important to me.


Being a parent can also be downright scary as well. Never sure if I am doing all I can to ensure my kids grow-up to be competent and caring passengers on our little planet. Never sure if I am finding the right balance between independence and boundaries for them. Trying to stay true to what I believe is right as a parent despite feeling as if my children and the entire advertising/marketing/social media world are fighting against me.

But I continue to remain steadfast in my role as parent. Hoping my kids won’t sense my insecurities. My fears.


My 6-year-old still does not know how to swim. He’s scared. He mentally breaks down when he stands on the stairs in the pool, hands above his head like a rocket, and he has to push off, face down in the water.

He has to learn how to swim. We spend our summers at the Pacific Ocean. It could save his life.

Group lessons weren’t working. His peers were moved up at the end of each session and my 6-year-old was still bobbing.  I had visions of him at 10, still bobbing, with a class of 3-year-olds. In December, I signed him up for private lessons.

The first few lessons, he bobbed. He learned to swim on his back across the pool by himself. He jumped in.

At lesson three, his teacher told him she was going to teach him the most important move in swimming. “The one that can save your life…how to start out swimming on your stomach and flip to your back…to conserve energy. “

I watched him, there on the stairs, shifting quickly from one foot to another, goggles in place, hands above his head. Clearly scared. His teacher held his hands and guided him through the move the first few times, but once it was time for him to do it on his own, he barely got in the water when he clawed his way up to find her arm, the side of the pool, anything he could grab onto.

On the way to the fourth lessons, he cried. He didn’t want to go. He told me he was scared. I went over all the reasons why he had to learn how to swim and told him that sometimes in life, we have to do things that are important, even if they are scary.

He started out the lesson swimming across the pool on his back, but soon, it was time to work on the flip. As he stood on the stairs, I could hear him tell his teacher he was scared. She was patient. Finally, he pushed off into the water but then, grabbed her arm right away.  She put him back on the stairs.

He pushed off again and this time he started the turn but grabbed her arm halfway through.

They were out in the middle of the pool.

She gave him a little push back toward the stairs and off he went, face down in the water. After a few kicks, he flipped over on his back and continued kicking until his head gently bumped the side of the pool.

I cried.

His teacher looked up at me with amazement and excitement.  She hugged my little guy and told him she was so proud of him.

My guy looked up in my direction with a poker face, goggles still on, and simply gave me a thumbs-up.

He continued to do the flip four more times in that same direction.

Afterwards, I hugged him tightly and told him that what he had done was the true definition of courage. Doing something that is important even though you are scared.


Whether you are someone trying to develop a skill or a talent, whether you are a parent, or whether you are a child learning to swim, there are times it can all be a bit scary to try to do those things well. To put yourself out there. To set yourself up for possible failure or criticism.

My hope for myself this year is that I continue to have the courage to put my writing, my photography and my parenting out there because it’s important to me….because I love to write….because I want to learn to be a better photographer…because I love my children…even though there are times when I’m scared.


If you were to pick a word…a single word that you could tape up on the fridge to guide you through 2012… what would your word be? If you want to share it down in the comments I would love to know, but I also understand if you want to keep your word private. Really I do…


Hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season! All the best wishes to you in 2012….. I am so fortunate to have you in my life. xo carrie



  1. C- I often remind myself to “be brave” ~ whether that be at work, at play or at home. This year, it’s be BOLD. Happy 2012. And, please, keep doing what you do. jmd

  2. Balance.

  3. Dang nab it. You’ve got me crying over here picturing Will’s courage! And yours for sticking it out with him no matter how hard! I love your courage, it not only buoys you, but all those around you!

    • Thanks sis!! Truly there are times when watching the courage it takes to be a kid these days bouys me…… xo

  4. Strength. Building it, maintaining it, modeling it. Both physically and mentally. 🙂 Courage is a great word too. Super blog Carrie.

  5. If I would pick a word that can guide me throughout 2012, it would STRENGTH. Strength to break down the walls I’ve build for thirthy years, to open my heart to love, to share the stories that have build me, and be a bit more wild than I’ve allowed myself to be.

    P. S. Your son reminds me so much of my nephew who still is hasitive in the water. He would get so excited to go swimming, and once we get there, he too mimics the pose of a rocket (uncertain what would happen to him once in the water, or the purpose of it all).

    Честита Нова Година!

    • Strength….such a great word and yes, it can definitely take some strength to change some of our ways especially when we’ve been at it for awhile. I wish you all the best……

  6. Hi Carrie,

    You probably don’t remember me, but I worked with Dave for a few years at Aisle7 as the HR Director, and we met a few times over the years. I am enjoying your blog.

    I think my word for this year is PRESENT. I am 39 weeks pregnant and expecting our first child anytime, and I am hoping to be able to be fully present to the adventure of parenting this year, amidst the sleep deprivation and challenges. I hope I can really lean into the beauty and wonder and miraculous nature of it all, and find peace and contentment in each day.

    • Oh, Sarah, yes “hi again!”….how exciting to be expecting your first child. “PRESENT” is perfect because to be honest it can be hard to be present with a child. Always looking forward to the next “stage” but as I’m sure everyone has told you it goes so fast so hold that little one tightly…… if you think of it I’d love to hear the exciting announcement of your little one’s arrival!!

  7. Awesome blog Carrie! Thank you for sharing and give Will a hug :).

  8. BARBARA TOSO says:



  9. Meg DesCamp says:

    My word for this year is BREATHE. xo to you, Carrie.

  10. Love love this post (had me watery eyed) and thank you for presenting the one word idea to me.

    I think my word would/will be OPEN. Open to change, possibility, experience, challenges, growth, happiness, success, learning, people, life…

    We’re expecting our second child in July and I find myself worrying about all of the change to come. Rather than trying to be a control freak about it all, I want to be open to the changes.

    Happy New Year Carrie!

    • I love that….OPEN. Trust me, there are many days when I want to control many things about parenting because not to control them can feel rather “scary” but you are wise to want to be open. Your children will love you more for that.

  11. You are so right…I just read your sisters post and wanted to leave a congrats post but because I don’t know her was too shy to leave my imprint on her site….What is with that! Since when have I become so afraid to express myself. I never had these issues as a 20 and 30 something career woman. Now, as a 49 year old Mom, wife, and small time business person (and in that order) I constantly have to search for my voice.

    My word for this year is going to INEXHAUSTIBLE.

    • I can empathize Leslie. Don’t you think that the older we get the more “molded” we become and it takes more and more energy and courage to try and reshape ourselves? Not that we can’t….but it just takes more effort. …….your art work is stunning. Your voice is out there.

      • yes…I think we do get more ‘molded’ and are not quite the ‘work in progress’ that happens in our 20’s pre-kids. Now we have to be role models for our children – at times open-minded and at other times opinionated but being consistent is what kills my creativity and free thinking. Thanks for making me reflect more!

  12. What an absolutely beautiful, inspiring post, Carrie. Thank you so much.

    I like your word: Courage. For the same reasons that you write about.

  13. Oh Where Oh Where – did you find the private teacher that got your little guy over the hump. My daughter struggles just like your little one. We have tried group lessons for the pass four years and have not had success. We are headed to Hawaii in a few months and it would be great for her to be able to swim with her cousin and feel the JOY of not being scared!

    My word for 2012 is Gratitude!

    • Jess, Do you live in the Portland area? If so, email me at carrieminns (at) me (dot) com and I’ll share my specifics. I too am looking forward to the day when my little guy can be in the pool with his older siblings and be loving it so I know how you feel about your Hawaii trip. Besides….with three kids, I’m tired of getting in the pool. I just want to sit on the side, watch them play, and read a book. 🙂

  14. My word for this year is : HAPPINESS. Looking for happiness everwhere!!! 🙂 Feliz Año Nuevo!

  15. Happy New Year, Carrie! My word for 2012 is Leap. This year has a lot of different things coming for me, and I’m so excited to leap into it all.

    • Oh, Lauren, LEAP is perfect for you. I so hope our paths cross this year so we can catch up. I can only imagine all of the wonderful things going on in your life.

    • LEAP is my word, as well. The limitations I put on myself can be so restrictive. Leap reminds me to fly, have adventure and take a chance. Leap opens to possibility.

      Delighted and inspired by your musings, Blessings and appreciation to you, Carrie!

  16. Focus. that’s all I’m gonna say, because I could write a whole page about why I need to focus. maybe I will just do that over at Eat2gather ; ) luverly pics as always almost forgot to read, because I was gazing at your decoration craftsmanship…see! I need to focus!

    • There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t tell myself I need to FOCUS. That’s what motherhood will do to you. 🙂

  17. Carrie, I sat here and just cried with pride for your sweet little boy and at your lovely writing. Oh my goodness, it truly touches the soul.

    My word is love. Love myself enough to do all the things I need to do for myself, but never have the courage to do. Love my family enough to put myself and them ahead of the world. Love the world enough to prepare myself and my family to make it even better.

    • We are a weepy bunch, Robyn, because now I’m teared up by your touching thoughts on your word “love.” Everything you wrote “up there” I feel too. Thank you for stopping by and sharing my friend.

  18. Robin Ferryman says:

    DO. It’s my beautiful, strong, very Southern friend’s word. Now, it’s my word, too. She just wants to “do” for her family. Things like drive her son to school, fill up the gas tank, and hit Costco and Target on her way to the grocery store. Make dinner. She doesn’t care that her hair won’t grow back. She’s just tired of being tired from two different chemo treatments every week. I think of her when I don’t feel like going to the gym, or running one more errand. Instead, I “DO” and tell myself to stop taking so much for granted.

    • Your friend is so right, isn’t she? Sometimes I find myself over-thinking the littlest things and wasting so much time by doing that. Would be better just to “do” as your friend says. I’ve found that sometimes even though we might not be going through cancer treatments and can’t really know how our friend or loved one who is might really feel, we can be moved to re-set our priorities by simply following their example.

    Something I struggle with every day: patience with my kids, spouse, the old cat who pees where he shouldn’t, the driver in front of me that is going too slow etc.
    Tolerance: well, … in everything !

    • Oh gosh…I hear you. I keep looking in that patience bucket (especially now that I have a teenager)expecting it to be empty but luckily there’s always still a little bit left. So grateful. And I’ve had the old cat as well….yes, that takes a lot of patience…those old furry guys.

  20. I’ve shed a few tears reading this; such a beautiful sentiment, so wonderfully put. My word; ‘work’. Not in a punitive sense; just to remind myself that if I want something to go well, no matter what it is, then I need to put in the effort.

    • You are so right, Tori. That should be one of my back-up words as well. So many times I say I want to do this and I want to do this but I don’t put the effort into it and then, wonder why it isn’t happening.

  21. i’m gonna have to grab ahold of ‘bold’ too. *shchudder* –in a good way. that one is going to challenge me! thanks to julie for sharing it. and thank you for your gorgeous writing and sharing miss carrie.