pause + rewind + try again

forgetting perfect

Hello there! My name is Crystal Varner Parker and I am a recovering perfectionist. I have a tendency to get stuck before a task even gets started, because I’m afraid of not doing something the “right way.” In the year 2023 I am not setting a new year’s resolution (you already know my feelings on that), but I am committing to forgetting perfect. 

What’s wrong with ‘perfection’?

Great question, I’d be happy to answer that for you. I do not have anything against a perfectly made baked good, the perfect gift someone chosen for someone else, or any well-executed task or project. What bothers me is the paralysis that ensues by those of us that suffer from perfectionism. I do have something against making a task harder than it has to be, because it must be perfect. I do have something against unrealistic expectations. 

How do we move forward?

I think it calls for giving ourselves and a LOT of grace. I routinely wear a necklace that has the phrase “Grace not perfection” engraved upon it, because I need that reminder. As I go about my day it reminds me that perfection is not the name of the game. Now, I’m not saying everyone needs to go and buy a necklace, but it’s nice to have something tangible that reminds us to forget being perfect. 

Can we shed our need for perfection?

Absolutely not! I am a deep believer in continued growth, learning new things, and striving to be a better me each day, week, month, and year. I also believe we learn a LOT from our mistakes. If we are always striving for perfection, we are never leaving room for those growth opportunities. 

Who’s with me?

Anyone else ready to hit pause on perfect? Ready to hit rewind on our need for control? Now, let’s try again by letting go of perfection. We need to do that best we know how and accept that sometimes that good is good enough. 



pause + rewind + try again

don’t tell me what to do

If only it were that simple. 
Guns aren’t the problem, 
it’s a mental health crisis. 
Guns don’t kill people, 
only those with mental health issues do. 
We have a right to bear arms,
except we forget it’s supposed to be a well-regulated militia

Don’t make me wear a mask, 
but please teach the children to hide. 
Life is sacred and we’re pro-life, 
except more children and teachers have died. 
We don’t want to be told what to do,
unless it’s your body and your choices. 

Nothing is simple, 
except protecting our children. 
Mental health matters,
except for traumatizing our children (again).
We have rights,
except for our children to attend school safely. 

Don’t tell me what to do,
but I’ll make the rules. 
You must care for all lives we deem worthy,
but we aren’t going to make it feasible. 
We all have rights,
but only those of some seem to matter. 

These are the words of a mother, a pastor, an educator, a wife, a daughter, and a friend who is full of rage and heartbreak. I have sat through multiple lockdown drills, have lamented the ones my daughter has endured, and mourn the innumerable hours educators have spent preparing for the eventual. School shootings, mass shootings, and gun violence of all its stripes and varieties are becoming mundane. You will offer your thoughts and prayers for a time, but soon you will forget. 

There are children and loved ones being mourned today, tomorrow, and for always. But let’s remember your guns. They are what’s most important. You have the right to bear arms and form a militia, but you forget it should be well regulated. These rules don’t matter, because you’ll stop these shootings from happening with your guns. 

But here’s the thing…YOU HAVEN’T!
The guns keep landing in the hands of those who shouldn’t have them, and they are murdering Americans of all ages and races. 

When will there be enough blood on our hands? 
How high must the body count get before it matters?
When are we allowed to tell you what to do?

I’m telling you now:
This blood is on your hands. 
The body count is already too high. 
I have had enough of your thoughts and prayers.

i have a confession

Dear March 2020

Dear March 2020,

I started the month with high hopes and expectations. I had spent months preparing for a system conversion, worked crazy hours the first week and half of the month, and was preparing to get back to normal. Little did i know, that life was about to change dramatically. On March 13th I found out that my oldest daughter’s school system was closing for two weeks. I naively thought this would be short-lived. As we all know too well, what we thought would be a brief period at home, turned into a year. A year that has looked like nothing we’ve ever seen before.

The last year has not been the best. Days turned into weeks, which turned into months without seeing or touching the people we love. We have seen friends and family suffer, and in some cases, die from Covid-19. We have watched as loved ones get laid off and businesses close as our economy struggles under the weight of the pandemic. The list goes on about what has been terrible, bad, or not that great for the last year.

BUT I would argue that the last year has had some redeeming attributes. Please allow me to share the goodness I have found in the last year…

  1. I am grateful for a slower pace. We all know that we need to slow down or we’ll fall down, and I feel like 2020 made us all do that without apologies or regrets.

  2. Extra time with my children to observe firsthand their growth, learning, and experience with school. The window into their day(s) has been amazing. I’m in awe of how my oldest is as a student, and how my youngest is learning how to be a good peer among her classmates.

  3. Soft Pants – Working from home means that a work mullet (business on the top, soft pants or no pants on the bottom) is totally acceptable, as long as my appearance in view of the camera is professional. No one needs to know or see what’s below my desk, but my supervisor can rest assured there are always pants on.

  4. Getting outside (almost) every day has been so good for my soul. In 2019 I read the book There’s No Such Thing As Bad Weather by Linda Åkeson McGurk with the hopes of making it a way of life. It took a pandemic to make it happen, but I’m committed. Raining outside? Put on a raincoat, some wellies, and get to puddle jumping. Cold outside? Put on a thick coat, a hat, some gloves, and get to walking. Hot outside? Put on some shorts, a t-shirt, some sunscreen, some sunglasses, and stroll.

  5. A deeper appreciation of making choices for the greater good. Growing up as a Japanese American, there was the recurring phrase “a good Japanese daughter wouldn’t ____.” As an adolescent, this was an infuriating thing for my mom to say, but she wasn’t wrong. Sometimes you have to make choices that are for the good of others not just yourself. So I will wear my mask, get my vaccine (soon!), maintain 6’ of social distance, and (im)patiently wait until I can see all the people I have missed.

I will say it again…
The last year may not have been the best, BUT I would argue that the last year has had some redeeming attributes. While some may want to rush back to the way things were before, I’m going to lean into the good things I’ve loved this last year. What lessons have you learned in the last year?


pause + rewind + try again

Going to the Polls

November 3rd is rapidly approaching. We officially have Republican and Democrat nominees for President and Vice President, but do you know who else is on your ballot? In addition to voting for president, there are usually a variety of other elections for other offices you can vote for in your local area on election day. If you’re not sure who’s running for which office, it’s time you learn who they are, what they believe, and if you support them before going to the polls. 

Voting is IMPORTANT 

As a citizen of the United States of America, voting is one of the most important things you can do. In many ways, the right to vote has been a longstanding uphill battle in our country. The founding fathers outlined a pretty good system, but it has taken decades of work to ensure that we all, yes that’s right EVERYONE, may exercise their right to vote. The best way to appreciate it is to participate in the voting process at all levels of government. We should not take this privilege for granted. If you’re a person who is dissatisfied with certain aspects of your community, you especially want to participate in local elections. While presidential elections often seem like the most important ones, and y’all, Decision 2020 is a whopper for sure! It’s really the local elections that can have the biggest impact on your day to day life. The pothole on your street that popped your tire? Funding for greenways in your city? What time you can order a mimosa on Sunday at brunch? These are all decisions made by your local elected officials. We might not all have our candidate of choice win, and we do not have to agree with everything our elected officials do, but we do need to hold them accountable. 

Holding your elected officials accountable 

How do we do this?

  1. Vote! Each election is a reminder to our elected officials that their job is on the line. If we are not satisfied with how they have represented us, we will vote for their opponent on the ballot.

  2. Between elections, contact your representatives. They do not know if we like what they’re doing, are dissatisfied, or see areas for growth unless we tell them. Sitting back and complaining does nothing to solve problems, but speaking up can. Contact your representatives and let them know what you think of the job they’ve done. It’s tempting to only reach out with negative feedback, but it’s okay to let your elected officials know when they get it right too.

  3. Get involved. There are volunteer positions aplenty in our community. Helping on a candidate’s campaign so they get elected or re-elected can make a difference. Serving on an education or citizen advisory board, even helping to organize elections in your area are ways to actively participate in your local political community. There’s something for everyone. 

The big takeaway is that we have to pay attention. Sometimes politics can be boring and esoteric. Trust me, I know. I’ve personally endured hours of school board,  board of supervisors, and federal committee meetings. There’s a lot of information covered and not all of it is relevant. It is an opportunity to hear about important things that can affect me and my family’s life. Budget allocation isn’t sexy, but where the money goes affects major outcomes. Will your local school division receive new social studies books for the first time in a decade? That might depend on the school board requesting it of the board of supervisors, and having that request granted. Glamorous? Nope. Vital to an informed population? Damn, right it is!

When we take the time to participate in politics at our local and state levels, we can cultivate community leadership that reflects the values that are most important to us as individuals. We positively influence our community by making known what we want and need to thrive. As we’ve seen recently, when we don’t pay attention we can get stuck with something that’s less than fabulous. And then it can be years before we have another chance to choose better.

Time is running out.

November 3rd is rapidly approaching, so you have two important steps to take. Get informed about your ballot. Really learn who’s running, not just their party affiliation. Not all Democrats are bad, nor are all Republicans good, and vice versa. Almost every critical issue that you care about is addressed in one way or another at the school board, board of supervisors, and state level of representation. Do you care about how the coronavirus is being handled?  Do you care about racial reconciliation?  Do you care about the economy? Of course, you do! The ballot that will determine the future of national politics also determines the immediate present for the individuals, children, and families in our homes, neighborhoods, and communities.

Also if you know or have met a local official in or around your district… thank them! These are some of the hardest working folks in our communities and rarely will they get the recognition and gratitude they deserve. Did you know that most of these folks serve in their role part-time while working other jobs and caring for their families? Having lots to do and not enough time to do it is a situation to which many of us can relate. 

So, go vote! Vote early, vote by mail, just make sure you do the damn thing…
VOTE, get involved and make a difference where you are. 


pause + rewind + try again

we’re baaaaack!

Have you ever had a period of time where it felt like you’re always stuck in second gear? You know, when it hasn’t been your day, your week, your month, or even your year? (If you just sang that to the tune of the Friend’s theme, I’m proud of you.) We have definitely felt that way at many points from November 2019 through April 2020. Both Erica and I had large projects at work, side jobs and volunteer work, not to mention making time for our significant others, family, and friends. Just when we were coming up to catch our breath and get back to blogging again, then a global pandemic hit. Now that we’ve caught our breath AGAIN, we’re baaaaack!

We thought it was time to introduce ourselves again…

We are two best friends (Crystal and Erica) that have known each other since the summer of 1991 (might notice 91 in the name), that hope to encourage you to press pause, hit REWIND, and try again. Pausing, rewinding, and trying again can look different depending on the day, the week, month, or maybe even year (sorryish, I couldn’t resist). We like to talk about self-care, our local communities (Raleigh, North Carolina, and Richmond, Virginia), things happening in our world that speak to our hearts, and living green. 

We might not be experts, but we have heart…

We are by no means experts on the previously mentioned topics, but they are things that mean a lot to us. We both have a tendency to go hard, overschedule ourselves, and forget to slow down for self-care. We both know and firmly believe that it’s a crucial thing for our lives and mental health. We hope to share content that encourages you to make yourself a priority, while we continually work to do the same. When we’re not writing about wellness and self-care, you’ll catch us worrying, texting each other, and fretting about the world around us. The two of us feel things deeply when our world is hurting, and sometimes sharing what’s on our hearts helps to spur us to action or get others thinking about it. We might not write about every problem in the world, but on occasion, we hope you’ll pause and think deeper about how we can make the world a better place together. Sometimes it’s as simple as bringing your own grocery bag, water bottle, or cup, and sometimes it means writing letters, serving on a committee, or speaking out. 

Keeping it local

Why write about Richmond, Virginia and Raleigh, North Carolina? We have a special spot for Richmond, Virginia because that is where we met. It was on its suburban streets where we rode our bikes, played pretend, and shared our dreams with each other. Then it was on its urban streets that we ate and drank our way around to our gastronomic delight. We also both love where we currently live (Crystal in Richmond, Erica in Raleigh), and hope you will too. Whether you live in these cities or pass through, we hope you’ll pause in them to enjoy some of the goodness we love.

It’s never too late to try again…

In thinking about the things that matter to us, we want you to know that it’s never too late to start over. We all start off with the best of intentions, but sometimes things just don’t go as planned. In those moments, we encourage you to press pause (especially on the negative self-talk), hit rewind (to reflect on moving forward), and try again. 

As we move forward in 2020 (and beyond), let’s be kind, and push one another onward and upward.



pause + rewind + try again

the magic is already in you

I’m sure I am not the only person has noticed the MANY articles, blog posts, and witty memes about the end of the decade. Frankly, I’m so glad that the year is almost over so I can stop seeing them. Here’s why: these posts habitually focus on the need to finish accomplishing the things that remain on our to do/goal list or setting a new list for the new year or perhaps the upcoming decade. These reminders of the end of the 20-teens ending seem to have a primary focus on playing catch-up, because you’ve somehow dropped the ball on the ending year/decade. Rather than focus on what you haven’t done and/or need still to do, I have something different I want us to focus on… 

As you’re preparing for the beginning of a new decade, remember the magic in already in you. 

There’s nothing magical about the new year 

Just writing the words above makes me feel like I’ve committed a blogging sin, but I firmly believe it’s the truth. There’s nothing magical about new decade, or even year, unless you want it to be. If it gives you a renewed purpose, great. BUT if the focus on a magical new month, year, or decade causes you stress, let’s put it to rest. You are a great human being today, just as you are. Do we each have things we can do to make us better humans? Absolutely! However, you don’t need a new year or decade to start making a change. You can decide to make that change whenever you decide the moment is right. 


I gave up New Years resolutions 

Many years ago, I would come up with the requisite list of New Year’s resolutions. Soon after, I would fall off the New-Year-Wagon and fail to complete my list of resolutions. I would feel frustrated that I couldn’t stick accomplishing these goals, because I wasn’t like this in other parts of my life. Over time, I would try setting different New Year goals, until I finally realized this was causing me undue stress. I decided my new year could start whenever I wanted, because the New Year isn’t the boss of me anyway. 

An important reminder for us all as we begin the new decade. 

Recently, Erica and I were talking about our hopes and dreams for ourselves and our blog, and this got me thinking about some little reminders for all of us. 

  1. A new decade is definitely an exciting, new opportunity for setting long-term goals. We don’t have to limit ourselves to accomplishing our dreams in a year. Ten years is a more reasonable timeframe for big things. 

  2. We have a new decade of living into who we want to be. 

  3. It’s time to embrace who and where we are right now.

As we embrace the magic that is already in us, we can give up lamenting what we are not and what we perceive others expect of us. It’s time for us to love who and what we are now. Loving and supporting the self we are today, will carry us into a vibrant new decade. 



pause + rewind + try again

Doing more of what brings you joy

Halloween is over, so for some that means it is time for all things Christmas . I’ve long been a firm believer that it is far too soon, but I’m not here to be the Grinch (who stole your Christmas joy) or Ebenezer Scrooge. I’d like to take a moment to recommend doing more what brings you joy.

Live into the seasons

I’ve lived my whole life in Virginia, and one of the reasons I love it and stay, is that we have four distinct seasons. Some may say they live for a particular season alone, but I want them all. Yes, I have my favorites of the bunch, but I don’t want to be hemmed into loving only one. Just when one season feels like it is too much, it is time for another. I welcome the change of the seasons, and this leads me into my thoughts on decorating and celebrating them.

It’s time to loosen up..

I am a rules person. There is a way that we are supposed to do things (and NOT do them). I have had rules for many years regarding the various holidays:

  • I will not, and I repeat, will not listen to Christmas music until after I have consumed my Thanksgiving dinner. After this point (regardless of the time of day), I can begin enjoying that joyous music (Mariah Carey Christmas for life!)

  • I will not decorate for Christmas until we are as close to Christmas day as possible. This has caused challenges with obtaining a Christmas tree, so I have had to loosen up on this rule a little bit. (If you see me in person, ask about the pawn shop Christmas tree.)

  • I will enjoy my Christmas decorations for all twelve days of Christmas, and not pack them away  until Epiphany (the actual twelfth day of Christmas…forget this twelve days leading up to Christmas nonsense).

  • I will not decorate for Easter until after Good Friday, as the Easter season does not begin until Sunday.

  • Easter decorations can stay up until Pentecost, BUT they probably won’t because I cannot handle keeping them up that long.

  • My United States of America flag should fly from Memorial Day until at least Independence Day.

  • Halloween decorations should not go up until the week of Halloween

BUT I have come to the realization and conclusion this year, that we need not be overly legalistic. You see, I was called to account this year for being a possible joy thief by my Halloween-loving child, and my rules for Halloween decorations were turned on their head. It is time to loosen up.


Decorating early and often causes…

Immense JOY.
This spookey Halloween fanatical child of mind BEGGED me to decorate for DAYS until I caved. so, the decorations went up the first weekend of October against (what I thought was) my better judgement. I had no idea that I could enjoy Halloween decorations as much as I did, and it’s got me singing a different tune.

Maybe I should allow decorations to go up earlier in my house. I’ve now swapped my Halloween decorations for some fall décor, and I’m waiting (mostly patiently) to get the Christmas decorations up. In just a few weeks I’ll get all the Christmas decorations down from the attic and enjoy them for a whole SIX weeks this year.

No matter the season, do what brings you joy!

Whether you’re a “decorate early and often” person, a “wait to decorate” person, or a “please, no decorations at all” person, I encourage you to do you all year long.
Do not feel bound to follow the decorating rules of the rest of the world. Do what will bring you the most joy, and do it with ALL your heart.


pause + rewind + try again

I miss him

Suicide is this dirty little word we never want to talk about. It’s sad and depressing. It’s worse than politics or religion because you shouldn’t bring it up in polite company. But here’s the thing, suicide has affected far more people than you realize. On August 13, 2009 I found out that my cousin Jason had taken his own life. Today and every day since that event, I miss him.

The the best way I can honor my cousin’s life today is to tell you about him and to be a voice for those who are struggling right now. I’m grateful for a family that embraced each other then and now. I am grateful for friends that walked with me in my grief. I am also grateful for friends that have shared that they’re on this “survivor” path of grief with me. Only those who have lost someone to suicide know the depths of this pain, and we wish it on no one else. 

Crystal and Jason dancing at their aunt’s weddingCrystal and Jason dancing at their aunt’s wedding

Crystal and Jason dancing at their aunt’s wedding

Let me tell you about Jason

Jason P. Thompson was the cousin closest to my age on my mom’s side of the family. Our birthdays were almost exactly 18 months apart, and growing up, we did EVERYTHING together. Losing him was like losing a part of me. It was and still is hard to lose him; not just for myself but for his dad and two older sisters also. I could try and share why I think he took his life, but that’s something none of us will ever know. I do know that he dealt with much pain and heartbreak in the final years of his short life. I know that he battled a deep and dark depression. I wish HE KNEW how much he was loved and how much the world would hurt without him in it. 

Today and every day, I miss him.

During the second week of August each year, I always feel off. In the first few years following Jason’s suicide, I wasn’t quite sure what was wrong with me. Over time, I have become aware that it’s my grief and longing for my cousin to still be here. I know that there is nothing I can do to bring him back, but I can work to ensure others will not have to go through this. 

Today and every day, we have people we miss.

I’m sure each of us has suffered a loss. We have people we miss and long for in our lives. With that longing comes an opportunity and we can choose to act on those feelings if we want. We can pick up the phone and call. We can send a message. We can mail a note or card. We can visit. And why shouldn’t we let people know when we miss them? I’ve seen first hand that we don’t always get another chance to share our feelings. 

Sometimes what we do won’t be enough.

Cousins (left to right): Kara, Jason, Crystal, and KamiCousins (left to right): Kara, Jason, Crystal, and Kami

Cousins (left to right): Kara, Jason, Crystal, and Kami

I and others in my family talked to Jason a lot about how much we loved him and that he mattered to us. We knew he was going through some difficulties. My uncle worked tirelessly to find Jason something that would help and tried his best to support him as any father would. Despite our combined efforts, Jason still took his life. He left us behind and we will always feel that. Anyone affected by suicide knows this all too well. We can’t change what happened; our love for those we have lost never ends. Unfortunately, neither does the pain. We move forward, but we are never the same. 

If you are in your darkest, saddest, hardest moments…

I hope you know that:

  • you are loved

  • you are important

  • you will be missed

  • you should tell someone you are hurting and need help

If you know or love someone who is in their darkest, saddest, hardest moments…

I hope you will tell them that:

  • they are loved

  • they are important

  • they will be missed

  • that you’re here to help

Today marks ten years since…

I received the news that Jason was gone forever. Each year gets a touch easier in some ways. I want to encourage each of us to be vigilant and stay aware. Suicide is a really terrible thing. We have a tendency to believe it won’t happen to anyone we know, but there’s no guarantee. If we know of people who battle suicidal thoughts, we have an opportunity. We can reach out to those people, we can try to connect them with help, or we can call for help. Sometimes our work won’t stop someone from taking their own life, but if we will never know until we try…  

On this day, please do this one small favor:

If you or someone you love (or like a little or maybe don’t even like at all) may be contemplating, struggling through, or living beyond suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1.800.273.8255. 

Put this number in your contact list for that moment of need. Maybe it’s not for you, maybe you will never need it, but wouldn’t it be nice if you were ready to help someone else?

I want to end by saying that I am mostly okay, but I miss Jason today and every day. I want to celebrate him, you, myself, and the gift of life.



How did you get here

How Did You Get Here: Carrie Cheatham

We are super excited to introduce you to our next guest in the “how did you get here series.” Carrie Cheatham is the co-owner of Snail Mail, LLC in Richmond, Virginia. These cards have a special purpose and can be found in various local businesses. BUT rather than tell you about them, let’s let Carrie have the honors…


Tell us a little bit about you?

My name is Carrie and I create hand-painted greeting cards. When I say hand-painted, I mean every single one is painted by my hand, and I don’t have any originals. Between my husband (Andrew) and I, we have painted close to 11,000 cards in two years. The motivation behind what we do is that we give back a portion of the proceeds is given to local organizations that support our refugees and immigrant neighbors. We partner with five different organizations, all but one is located in Virginia. We work with two organizations that help our Latino neighbors, one is based in Fredericksburg and the other in Richmond. Then we work with an agency in Harrisonburg, Richmond, and LA. 

How and why did you start your journey?

It started when I was in college. I was a sociology major at Randolph Macon College and had no idea what I wanted to do. During my senior year, I did an internship with ReEstablish Richmond and I worked under Kate Ayers who is now the executive director. I worked alongside her during my internship and fell in love. I had no idea there were so many resettled refugees in Richmond. They are such a special group of people. It taught me a lot about how privileged I am as an American, and just how easy I have it. If I can use what I have learned in my lifetime to say that you are welcome here, you are important, you had a life in Afghanistan, you had a life in the Congo, but now you’re here, and everything is so different. I want to be someone that they can trust and confide in.

After I interned, I volunteered for a while, but then I graduated from college. Suddenly I had to figure life out on my own. (FYI: Adulting is hard!) So I got a job as one does out of college, but in 2017, I knew I wanted to go back to working with refugees and being in community with them again. At the time, I was also getting frustrated with our political environment and how hateful and exclusive it was. I didn’t know at first what I could do or make. I couldn’t just make a product and sell it, because that’s not who we are. It has to have a purpose.  


Then my husband had a suggestion. “You make everyone birthday cards and Christmas cards… Why not make greeting cards? Now we’re here. It went from frustration, to wanting to take these heavy emotions and transform them into something productive. It took a lot of soul searching and conversations, until my husband pushed me to just do it. Turns out people like greeting cards more than we thought.

What is the most rewarding thing about your venture?

It’s the support. When I first started I thought I was going to get a lot of kickback, because of where the money goes. The community of Richmond has rallied around us, and it feels good to know that this space is welcoming. It feels good to know that it’s not just me or my husband that feel like this. There are so many people in this community that love who we are, but love our mission. Reconnecting with ReEstablish Richmond through this, directly by volunteering again and being in connection with refugees. If we’re going to advocate for them, then we have to have conversations and be good neighbors ourselves. The community of Richmond, Orange (where I’m from), and Charlottesville, basically the central Virginia region has supported us, loved us, and believed in us. Coming from a small town to a city has been hard and intimidating, but through this, I have felt so loved. It drives me to do more, be more and to make more. 

What was the most challenging part?

The cards themselves. It takes a lot of time. It takes a lot of creative energy. It also takes a lot from one hand. This one hand (Carried held up left hand) does a LOT of work. 


Fortunately, my husband helps with the painting. I draw all of the designs in a sharpie pen and he can go through and fill in if he has an example. Here’s the funny thing… I do an okay job painting because I know that I can go back and touch it up. Andrew is not that way. He paints it all perfectly, so his cards are way more effective. They’re just ready to go for stamping. 

By stamping, I mean actually stamping each card. They are all stamped twice with two different branded stamps. An additional unrealized challenge is that the cards require a lot of thought into creating the words to put on them. Inspiration can come at the most random times or not at all. Currently, I have cards with sunflowers on them and no words.

What have you learned? 

So much! So so much! 

Being a maker is not easy. Being a maker of a product is something very special. It’s your own baby, that you coddle, and love on. A prime example is when we launched our website… I called the woman who helped me make it when I hit publish and asked her, “should I be crying?” She told me, “YES, it’s like you’ve birthed a baby. You’ve been working on this for months.”

I’ve also learned that every single moment is special. I’m so thankful to be on this journey and grateful that it began by working with refugees. Now I have so many of their stories to tell and experiences to share with people. Learning to love the little things is something I didn’t notice until I started doing this. Now every little victory is really special. 

What advice would you give someone else on this path?

Have a purpose. It makes it so much more meaningful to have something that you’re making it for. Not everyone needs to give money back, not everyone needs to advocate for somebody, but having some sort of underlying mission and why for what you do it really important. It makes it easier on those hard days when you can’t think of anything, don’t want to paint anything, or don’t want to make anything.  When you think about why you’re here and what you’re doing, it’s easier with a purpose. So, know your why. 

How has it changed you?

Drastically. It has drastically changed me. 

I have always been an empathetic person, somebody who tries to put myself in other people’s shoes. I think of how everything ties together to push me in the direction of being where I’m supposed to be. Right out of college I got a “big kid” job and then I started making these cards on the side. Suddenly I realized something didn’t fit, and realized it was my job. I took a leap of faith, quit my full-time job with benefits. I started working  super part-time somewhere else 15 hours a week, and spent the rest of my time these making cards.I know that I’m in a fortunate situation because I’m married and the second income is a huge help. 

But having that moment when I was sitting in the office realizing that I wasn’t where I was supposed to be at my old job changed me. I realized that I am supposed to be with people and be a voice for people who don’t have a voice right now. It’s changed me in so many ways that I can’t pinpoint just yet. It’s like this puzzle that keeps on adding onto itself. I don’t know where this is going to be in five years, but I’m just trusting it. It’s been built so beautifully, and I’m grateful. The universe is doing something pretty great.

What has surprised you the most?

How many people want to sell our cards and buy our cards!
They’re super simple, and they’re blank inside. You have to write something inside them yourself! 

Also, most of the stores our cards are in, the businesses reached out to us about selling them. Urban Farmhouse, for example, reached out to us, and we found out that they learned about us through a hashtag on Instagram. We didn’t even launch a website until this spring. We sold cards through Facebook and word of mouth at first. Our cards made it into their first store in the fall of 2017, and it was at this point that we created an Instagram account. It’s so surprising how much word of mouth and social media makes a difference. 

Anything else you’d like to share?

It makes it a lot easier having someone who does this with you. My husband has a full-time job, and he still helps me all the time. I think that speaks wonders of the type of person he is. You see my face and hear from me all the time, but he works behind the scenes. He paints, he stamps, he packages, and gets cards where they need to go. He likes to say he’s the shipping and handling guy. The behind the scenes support is so important. He encourages me, he reminds me to take a break, and pushes me to keep going. Andrew doesn’t like having his picture taken, so you don’t see him, but he’s behind the scenes really making a difference. He deserves a lot of credit. 

Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with us Carrie!

If you’re looking for a card to send for the next birthday, holiday, or a just-because occasion, we highly recommend checking out Snail Mail. We are big fans, and we hope you will be too! Also, don’t forget to give Snail Mail a follow on Instagram or a like on Facebook.

pause + rewind + try again

You are enough

I am of the belief that we are in need of a retraining of our internal monologue. I’ve talked about this before, but it’s a recurring issue. I have lost count of the number of times I have heard others beating themselves up and putting themselves down over something in their lives. The internal negativity can begin to spiral out of control. Rather than stopping it to say what they are doing right, the negativity begins to take deep root.
I am here to tell you today, that you are enough.

How do we retrain our internal monologue?

I liken this to assimilating to a new culture. We are surrounded by images, videos, and various reminders that who we are is not enough. We need more to make us whole. We need to buy more to make us better. We need to be more for others to like/need/want us. We need more, more, more. But I have something else to tell you…

it’s all a lie.

We are enough There are is nothing we need to buy to complete us. We don’t need to do something else to be liked/needed/wanted. We don’t need anything else, because..

Who we are is enough.

Who we are has always been enough.

Who we are will always be enough.

We need to silence the negative voice inside and outside trying to tell us otherwise.

View fullsize


We have a choice…

We can choose whether or not we want to listen.

We can choose to internalize the negativity, or we can reject it.

Let’s commit to doing one thing today to make this better.

Let’s stop what we are doing, and say this together, “I am enough.” Repeat this as many times as you need. If this isn’t doing the trick, you can try another tactic. Find a mirror, look yourself in the eyes and say to yourself, “you are enough.” You can repeat this process over and over until you believe it. This may need to be done over the course of many days and weeks, but there’s good news…

You are not alone in this.

There is a whole community over here at The91Rewind to support you in flipping the script. Together we can press pause on the negative self talk, hit rewind, and try again. Added bonus, if you’re really struggling with this, you can reach out to myself and Erica. We want to support you on this journey of self-care and being kind to yourself. You can send us a message through our contact link, Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. We will gladly encourage you and send you something to help you. We are so committed to this, that we will even send you some old fashioned snail mail encouragement if you’d like it. All you have to do is let us know in the message you send us.

How powerful will we all feel when we reject what the negativity wants us to believe and rise above it?!