Finding Strength for 2015

Coffee and a Pink Scarf

Most of you know that the past few years have been challenging for me. The whole process of trying to make sense of my mom’s illness—one that eventually took her life—and then maneuvering through the emotional aftermath as we all try to manage our lives without her has been exhausting. I’ve felt as though someone laid a dozen Pendleton wool blankets on my back and I’ve been hunched over tying to support the weight of them all this time.

The day after Christmas, I had a good old-fashioned “feel sorry for me because I don’t have a mom” day. Thankfully I was with my mother-in-law and sister-in-law who hugged me, shed a few tears with me, and let me mope. December 26th marked a year since the last time my mom spoke to me – although I should clarify that my mom had been writing to communicate for over a year at that point but to me it was speaking. Our conversations that day centered on adjusting her pillow, making her a smoothie, and eventually her saying good night to me. The finality of that good night hit me full force a year later.

Anyone who knew my mom knows that she was never one to say ‘why me?’ and mope about things she couldn’t control. Even in the bleakest moments of her illness she’d say things like, “I’m listening to 15 minutes of the Laugh USA station every day because they say that humor can heal the body.” She was always upbeat. Always moving forward.

Coffee and a Pink Scarf x2

After winter break was over and the kids were back in school, I was alone in my kitchen, drinking coffee, and trying to motivate myself to work. In that quiet moment, I heard my mom talk to me as if she was right there and she said, “Enough. Get off the pity party, Care, and let’s get going!”

I had to smile to myself because those were phrases she had regularly said to me and my siblings growing up and she always accompanied them with a clap, clap, clap.

Once those words sunk in, I said to myself, “She’s right. Enough. Let’s move forward.” And somehow I felt the weight lift and I mustered up the strength to move ahead.

And that’s what I desire from 2015: STRENGTH.

  • The strength to set boundaries and guard my time.
  • The strength to focus on accomplishing two projects dear to me: my book and building my photography business.
  • The strength to eat food that nourishes me.
  • The strength to make good decisions regarding my finances.
  • The strength to recognize when to grab onto new opportunities and when to let other opportunities go.
  • The strength to parent my children.
  • The strength to exercise my body even when it’s cold and rainy outside.
  • The strength to get to bed at a decent hour so my body can have a full night’s sleep.

Yes, there are still mornings when all I want to do is wrap my neck in a pink scarf, drink coffee, sit on the couch, and ponder, but then I hear my mom clapping and saying, “Let’s get going, Care!” and that gives me the strength to get up and get to work.

Maybe her sing-song words and clapping will be motivating to you too.

Much love,

Kale, Apple, and Walnut Salad

Kale, Apple, and Walnut Salad with a Lemon Vinaigrette
5.0 from 1 reviews
Course: lunch, dinner
Prep time:
Total time:
Serves: a big plate of winter salad
When we were in New York City after Christmas, we found ourselves going back to the same restaurant just outside our hotel three nights in a row. Yes, it was good food but mainly we went there because it was biting cold outside and we didn’t want to walk any further than we had to. Needless to say, we got to know their menu pretty well. One evening my daughter and I shared their salad special—a kale, apple, ricotta, and hazelnut salad with a lemony vinaigrette. We fell in love with the combination of those tart, bitter, creamy and sweet flavors. Here in mid- winter, when food can be so heavy, my body felt nourished by those winter greens. Since I’ve been home, I’ve been making my version of that salad almost everyday for lunch. I use walnuts instead of hazelnuts since my 15-year-old is highly allergic to hazelnuts and I don't keep them in the house. Sometimes I add in a handful of leftover chicken or use goat cheese instead of ricotta but regardless, each time I have it, I feel a surge of energy from this unassuming little salad.
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and minced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • Pinch of salt
  • 3-4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2-3 handfuls of baby kale or a mix of kale and other winter greens
  • ½ a Granny Smith green apple, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • A small handful of ricotta or goat cheese crumbles
  • A small handful of roasted and chopped walnuts or hazelnuts*
  1. In a small bowl, mix together your garlic, lemon juice, and salt. Set aside for 10 minutes to allow the flavors to mingle. Whisking continuously, slowly drizzle 3 tablespoons of your olive oil into the lemon and garlic mix. Taste. Add the final tablespoon of olive oil if you desire.
  2. Put your kale on a large plate. Top with your apple, cheese and nuts. Drizzle a spoonful or two of the lemon vinaigrette over your salad. Enjoy.
  3. *Roast nuts on a cookie sheet in a 350°F oven for 10 minutes stirring once halfway through.



  1. I love you…and your words my dear friend! Your strength inspires! I love that your mom is still guiding you…and always will!

  2. you’re not alone Carrie, you’re never alone even though the ‘physical-ness’ of your mom is not here, as you said, you still ‘hear’ her words, you still feel the essence of who she was while she was here. she continues to be your biggest cheerleader, telling you to ‘get going’. i’m rooting for you – you’re an amazing talent! (((hugs)))

  3. C, thanks for openly sharing your stories. They are felt deeply by all who read them. We’re rooting for you in all you do for 2015+!!

  4. Sending you a hug! My Mom has been gone over 25 years, and I still miss her every day, and feel her presence, and hear her words! May all your happy lovely memories sustain you during the tough times my friend….

  5. I love your 2015 theme. I love that you write so near to your heart. I love that you throw in a recipe at the end of such a touching blog. Thanks for making me smile today!

  6. Carrie,
    This post is inspiring and precious….just like you. Thank you for sharing your heart and nourishing me and my family with your words and your recipes. So looking forward to your book:):):). Sending you love & all good things!

  7. Thank you, Carrie, for your inspiration! Strength is just what I needed today, too… along with a great recipe! xoxo

  8. Your writing always moves me. <3

  9. This is so motivating to me–I think it helps that my name is Carrie, too. 😉 I’m going to make a list like yours today instead of wishing I could lay my cheek on something hard & cold. And I’m definitely going to find the Laugh USA station! There’s not much a good laugh can’t cure.

    • Oh Carrie, I’m so glad I could provide a wee bit of motivation. And yes, definitely look up the Laugh USA station. It’s a good one!!

  10. Amen sweet Carrie. Papa Bear

  11. This post touched me on a very deep level. I understand your pain. My father died 10 years ago this May. And although my mom and brother are still around, I have consciously chosen to live 5,000 miles away on a different continent. Why?… because it makes me happy. And despite that very important qualifier, I have tendency to feel sorry for myself when I feel lonely, forgotten, and when I don’t feel I can bear the weight of every decision on my own for even a moment more. Thank you for reminding me that I have the strength within me to carry on…to do what I am meant to do. Sending you a big hug and continued strength! xo Karyn