What I HAVEN’T been doing.

I feel a strange sense of calm lately.

Which is super-strange for me, since I’m one of the least calm people I know.

For (almost) 27 years I’ve felt the intense need to be productively doing something at any given second of the day.  And when I’m not doing something I’m almost always thinking of 80 million things I need to do, or I should do, or I want to do… you get the idea.

But now, in 2013, I’m calm.  And I have multiple theories as to why.

Theory #1

It’s entirely possible that during 2012 I somehow forgot what it’s like to be a normal non-wedding-planning human and now that I’m back to being that type of person I feel born-again.

Theory #2

My new years resolution has worked magical wonders on my life.

Theory #3

Aliens or other things supernatural.

Yep, let’s go with theory #2.

Along with that awesome new years resolution I made, I’ve been making a conscious effort to not do certain things in 2013.  Because I figure NOT doing something is easier than actually DOING something, right?  (I know this is not true in all cases, but just go with me on this)

**Side note: I’m constantly giving our dog a lecture that goes something like, ‘Monster, it is far easier to not bark at the neighbors than it is to bark at them.  The absence of action is the lazy-dog’s way!  Just don’t do that!  Please stop!  It’s not hard, I promise!  You have to TRY to bark… stop trying!’  This strategy has not worked at all.**

If the Monster could speak in human-words, "I know you're talking about me and I don't like it, I don't like it one bit.  I'm watching you"

(Because I can read the Monster’s mind) “I know you’re talking about me and I don’t like it, I don’t like it one bit. I’m watching you.”

So, the following is a list of things I haven’t been doing:

  •  I haven’t been checking social media in bed (although I do still check email.  Baby steps.)
  • I haven’t been rushing out the door in the morning
  • I haven’t been allowing myself to feel guilty for not being good enough, productive enough, saying yes enough, not working out, spending too much  money, etc
  • I haven’t been worrying about the future
  • I haven’t been procrastinating
  • I haven’t been allowing our house to become too disorganized
  • I haven’t been staying up well past midnight on a school work day
  • I haven’t been going to work without showering/doing my hair/with my makeup well put on
  • I haven’t been over-booking myself
  • I haven’t been eating crap
  • I haven’t been taking life as seriously
  • I haven’t been stressing out on behalf of others and letting other people’s life situations affect my own happiness (for the most part)
  • I haven’t been holding grudges
  • I haven’t been (as) hesitant
  • I haven’t been keeping to a strict diet or prohibiting myself from things I enjoy
  • I haven’t been sitting all day at work (I try to stand at my desk as often as possible.  This is especially easy because I’m pretty really short)
  • I haven’t been internalizing my thoughts and feelings
  • I haven’t been afraid to take some risks
  • I haven’t been (as) timid at work

I’m sure this list isn’t quite complete, but those are the things that I thought of right away.  None of these things were specific resolutions I had at all, they just kind of came about when I thought of how I wanted to live my best life.

And really, the reason I haven’t been doing these things is because of my resolution!  I finally decided to allow myself to be free from  the self-criticism and obligations and constraints I had always imposed on myself.  These last few months I have been making a very big effort to be the best person I can be each day, without worrying about what ‘best’ might look like to other people and only focusing on what my ‘best person’ looks and feels like.

I’ve noticed huge improvements in every area of my life, which has been amazing and I’ve been feeling very blessed indeed.

Anyway, in this season of Lent and for 2013 in general, I hope you’ve been able to give up something that you’ve found to be game-changing!

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What I read when I’m drinking wine.

Sometimes I get so busy that I forget that I’m only human and do not have the abilities to tackle every task at hand and try to do everything anyway.  And then life reminds me that I’m only human and strikes my over-exhausted body down with sickness.

Last week was one of those weeks.  I was so busy, so productive, and so happy.  and then BAM! everything shut down. (By ‘everything’ I’m referring to my immune system).

I was fairly certain I was going to die on Friday from the common cold.

Yeah, this could be an example of me being dramatic, but seriously, I had the fever, the chills, the sore throat, the stuffy nose, the cough, you get the idea.  I felt disgusting and managed to look even worse.  Maybe that’s why the Husband took pity on me and was even nicer to me than usual.  This is one of the great perks of being married – I have a wonderful roommate who is willing to cook for me, rub my feet, draw me a bath, etc.

Do I know I’m spoiled? Definitely.

The point is, this weekend was more uneventful than I had hoped, but the Husband took great care of me and I was able to read a fantastic book!

Silver lining people, silver lining.

This book.... I cannot say enough about it.  It's kind of self-help but pretty much just awesome.

This book…. I cannot say enough about it. It’s kind of self-help(ish) but pretty much just awesome.

Over the weekend I finished The Gifts of Imperfection. No summary of this book (that I could write) would do it justice, but suffice it to say that this book is one of my very-favorites and I think I’ll find it to be quite life changing.

What book is next on my list?  I have a whole shelf full of possibilities, filled with recommendations from friends and blog writers and all sorts of other sources.

These are next on my 'to-read' list!

These are next on my ‘to-read’ list!

Don’t worry (were you worried?), I didn’t spend the entire weekend with my nose in a book and devoid of any human interaction. On Sunday my mom came into town and we went to brunch and any weekend that involves a fancy brunch is pretty wonderful.

It wasn’t just an ordinary brunch, either.  We went to Longman & Eagle and it was every bit as fantastic as I thought it would be.

Oh brunch, how I love thee.

Oh brunch, how I love thee!

Ah – books, love, brunch, family, wine, a documentary or two… I had quite the successful weekend.

I hope you enjoyed your weekend and are recharged for the week ahead!

A lovely little quote on forgiveness.

apology

(via Unfundamentalist Christians)

This is one of the first things I saw (on the internet, anyway) when I woke up.  Beautifully stated, don’t you think?

It made me think of the apologies I probably never gave or didn’t know I needed to give and the friends who forgave me anyway.

Because I have awesome friends and that’s kind of what friends do.  And spouses, for that matter.

Actually, the Husband usually sends me super heartfelt apologies.  I say ‘sends’ because they’re often via ecard.  Nothing says ‘this is genuine’ like an ecard!

husband apology

The Husband sent me this gem the other month. I think he was hoping it could cover a multitudes of wrongs and will continue to be relevant in the future, so he’ll never need to come up with a unique apology again.

Now, go apologize someone who you owe an apology to!  Or, decide to forgive someone who owes you an apology.

What a winning way to start a Tuesday.

 

I’m still thinking about that wedding thing we did.

I recently got an email from a college friend who was filling me in on the details of her boyfriend and their relationship and a wedding she recently went to and her thoughts on weddings… And as it oftentimes does with most of my friends, the conversation led to her throwing out the idea that she will probably elope if she decides to eventually get married.  Actually, more of my good friends have eloped (or had a super small wedding) than have had a more ‘traditional’ ceremony/celebration.  Before I met the Husband, I had always assumed that I would elope or run off somewhere and just get the whole thing over with.  However, he wanted a wedding.

Not a bad spot to start 'forever' together, huh?

Not a bad spot to start ‘forever’ together, huh?

On a tangent – I do not think that men should get to throw out the whole ‘I want a wedding’ card if they do not actually want to plan the wedding.  The Husband really and truly thought that it was every woman’s dream to spend every waking hour for months planning her wedding.  He also thought every woman naturally loved to cook and clean.  I set him straight on all of these accounts and more, don’t you worry.  Anyway, when we started talking about getting engaged he told me that he wanted a wedding and basically got super pissed when I told him I had no interest in planning one.  After thinking about it for a few more minutes (it doesn’t take me too long to make a decision) I decided that since getting married is a two person thing, I should probably agree to a wedding so we wouldn’t have any regrets.  We compromised and decided to have a destination wedding in Jamaica.  BUT, I still ended up having to plan almost the entire thing.  While the Husband helped me accomplish some tasks (stuffing envelopes!) I had to do a majority of the work and scheduling and stressing and talking to families/friends and coordinating… you get the idea.  I’m still bitter.  He’s lucky I love him and that it turned out to be worth it!

Now, there were times during the planning of our wedding that I wanted to rip my hair our / vow never to speak to anyone ever again / call off the wedding and elope in a private ceremony … you get the idea.  I practically burst into tears (wait, maybe I did burst into tears) multiple times a week over the anxiety this one day, November 17 – to be exact, caused.  So, I totally and completely understand why women wouldn’t want to put themselves through this torture.

But, the thing that kept me going was knowing that in the end I’d probably be glad that we ended up having a wedding.  Isn’t there some quote about how we only regret the things we didn’t do?  Well I think there is a quote like that, and although I know that it’s not true in all situations (I can think of quite a few dates I wish I hadn’t gone on!), I definitely applied it to this event and am very glad that I we went through with it.

Yep, I’m going to say having a wedding was one of my very best life decisions.  And we all know I have made A LOT of excellent life decisions. (Feel free to roll your eyes at this point.)

Reasons I’m glad I did NOT elope: (I would write a list of reasons to elope, and I might later, but basically if you go on any wedding website and look at the ENDLESS lists they have, that should convince you.  If it doesn’t, look at how much this list of things will cost to implement).

  • The Bridal Shower – I could write a whole post on bridal showers, because generally I dislike them and don’t understand them and never ever wanted one… But I loved mine.  It was my aunts and cousins and love and happiness and a great time to get together with people I don’t see enough.  Although they aren’t for everyone, I think it’s nice to give relatives the opportunity to celebrate you in a way they want to, so I’m glad I gave my relatives the chance to keep tradition and have a shower (or two).
Some of my cousins at my Cincinnati bridal shower.

Some of my cousins at my Cincinnati bridal shower.

  • Engagement party – Our friends came over and met our dog and played games and talked together and we gossiped and had a great time in our new home.  Basically, we used our engagement as an excuse to party, and I’m glad we did!  It would have been super-awkward to celebrate our engagement and then not be able to talk to people about a wedding that would follow… but that’s my opinion and I’m sure it’s possible to have an engagement party and still elope!
  • Bachelorette party – One of the top 5 nights of my life, easily.  My girlfriends are amazing.  Once again, I’m sure this could have happened without a wedding, but it may have to happen after the fact.
  • Cards/Notes – I’ve received the kindest notes and cards from people!  I will keep them forever.  I’m sure if I had eloped people would have sent me cards.  Other people (my mother included!) would have written me hate mail.  I prefer cards.
  • Dress shopping – I bought my dress with my mom, mother-in-law, and sister-in-law.  We went to one store, I found a dress, and then we had brunch.  It was such a wonderful day.  Plus, I loved trying on so many pretty dresses!  Maybe I don’t go shopping enough, but I really did enjoy it.
  • Photos – Looking at photos of the wedding week always make me tear up.  I had such a blast and am so glad that I have such great pictures of all of our loved ones together.
  • Community – We had an absolute blast bringing our friends and families together to witness our ‘big event’.  Seriously.  Even though my parents are divorced and I was a little nervous about throwing them on an island together, it all worked out as perfectly as I could have hoped.  Plus, our friends are now friends and hanging out with each other in different cities!  Oh the joy I feel has no bounds when I think of all of my loved ones together.
My bridesmaids cracked me up.

My bridesmaids cracked me up.

  • The dancing – Ohhhh the dancing.  I had the best time dancing.  I never even dance at weddings, but at my own wedding I was unstoppable.  It’s like having a private dance party with all of your best friends but it’s just a LOT of best friends.  It doesn’t hurt that our friends and families are excellent dancers.
My college roommates came to Jamaica and danced with me.  They're pretty stellar.

My college roommates came to Jamaica and danced with me. They’re pretty stellar.

  • Excuses to talk to friends/family for 9 months before the event – Even though dealing with friends and family members were the very worst/most stressful moments of wedding planning, there were some joyful conversations in there!  Planning a wedding can be a wonderful excuse to talk to loved ones who live far away.
  • Memories – Priceless.  My favorite memories include walking down the aisle, hearing ridiculous stories about the guests, dancing, the speeches, our rehearsal dinner, getting ready for the day… the Husband’s parents looking so happy…ok basically I loved everything.
M new sisters and mother-in-law on the dance floor.

M new sisters and mother-in-law on the dance floor.

  • My parents – My mom was so happy the whole time I was wedding planning.  Seriously.  She couldn’t get enough of it.  She didn’t plan anything, she just liked hearing me talk about planning… so she ended up adding additional stress to my life, but that’s ok because having a wedding to talk about made her happy and her happiness is worth it.  My dad was an entirely different story… he hated the idea of a destination wedding and made it known from day one.  If my mom added 2x the stress to my life, my dad added 1000x the stress to the event.  But, I’ve never seen him happier than on my wedding day and he’s still talking about how it was the best wedding he’s ever been to (and he says it in disbelief, still).  I know that my parents would have forgiven me if I had wanted to elope or have a super-small ceremony, but the fact that they enjoyed the day as much as we did means a lot to me.  Plus, we are now all bonded over this one week in our lives.
  • The Husband’s parents (and family) – His dad gave a speech that made me cry.  His brother (best man) gave another excellent speech.  His mom told me that she prayed for him to find a great woman and she’s so happy he has.  Both of his sisters were my bridesmaids. Were these moments worth the stress that his family caused at other times? ABSOLUTELY.

best man

Having a wedding is a big and expensive decision and I can completely understand why someone would be hesitant to dedicate so much of their life to planning a single day… But honestly I am very, very glad that we have these memories to look back on.

Ultimately, was it worth the money?  Yes.

Worth the time it took to plan? Yes.

Worth the stress? As much as it pains me to say this… Yes.

I'll leave you with the sexiness that is my current husband and one of his great friends.

I’ll leave you with the sexiness that is the Husband and one of his great friends.

These are a few of my favorite things.

As part of my ‘slower’ pace in 2013 (I’ll talk about this in greater detail later when it’s more consistent), I read a devotion every morning to get my head in the right place for the rest of the day.  So far this has been more positive to my mental health than checking my email/weather/news/Facebook/etc.

I love starting my day with a positive reading.

Today’s chapter suggested taking time to focus on things I’m thankful for right now.

Mission accepted.

chicago skyline

90s music. Acceptance. Baked goods. Being in love. Black and white photographs. Blogs. Boots. Boutique stores. Brunch. Budgets. Candlelight. Canyons. Card games. Cartwheels. Chai tea lattes. Cheese. Chicago skyline. Cold noses. Coloring. Competition. Country music. Creating. Crossfit. Dance parties. Dancing. Dark rum. Deep conversations. Double Dates. Down comforters. Downhill skiing. Eating at trendy (fancy) restaurants. Eating outside.  Ellen DeGeneres. Equality. Fall air. Fallen leaves. Farmers markets. Feeling of sheets against bare skin. Finishing a long run. Fireplaces. Flossing. Flowers. Fluffy pillows. Fond memories. Forehead kisses. Freedom. Fresh bread and olive oil. Freshly shaved legs. Greeting cards. Handwritten notes. Hard cider. Holding hands. Homemade gifts. Hot apple cider. Hot tea. Instant messaging with far-away friends. Keeping in touch. Kissing. Knowing people well. Large coffee mugs. Listening to rain fall. Lists. Mason jars. Mushy pears. Music festivals. Packing lightly. Painted toenails. Personality assessments. Poetry. Prayers. Productivity. Prosecco. Puppies. Reading. Road trips. Scrapbooks. Silk. Singing in the shower. S’mores. Sports. Summertime storms. Sunsets over the ocean. Sweat. Swedish massages. Thick lotion. Travel. Used bookstores. Vanilla scented candles. Vintage jewelry. Waking up early. Watching snow fall. Winter jackets. Working on projects.

Resolution remix.

freedom

I thought I had my 2013 goals all figured out.  I even wrote a whole post about it.

But, in my never-ending search for simplicity in life and not actually making real ‘resolutions,’ I’ve changed my mind about my approach.

Well, I shouldn’t say I changed my mind, but rather I’ve decided that most of my goals can be summed up in a better way.  You see, I read this article and it encouraged me to find one word to focus on for the year, instead of a list of goals that I can easily lose sight of.

Thankfully, I’ve found a new way to do New Year’s Resolutions that keeps me properly focused. Instead of making my long list of ways I plan to improve, I prayerfully choose just one word to be my focus for the entire year. Just one word that represents what I most hope Christ will do in or through me that year. One word to give me direction.

It’s not a regret-based word but a vision-driven word centering on the kind of person I want to become. It keeps me looking forward and upward.

Genius.  I wish I had thought of it.  (There’s even a whole community of other bloggers who have picked their word!) Not that I’m not going to focus on those other goals I have…. because they’re (hopefully) going to be a driving force of how I spend my time and money this year.  However, I also now have one word that I’m going to keep in the front of my mind throughout the day.

That word is freedom.

It’s amazing how stressed out I was in 2012 because I didn’t feel free.  I felt obligated. I felt bogged down. I felt busy. I felt trapped in a job. I felt like a bad friend and family member.  I felt like I was constantly inconveniencing people. I felt like crying a lot but I didn’t have time to cry. I felt out of shape.  I felt like I was eating too much crap and then I subsequently I felt like crap. I felt worn down. I felt anxious.  There were a million things I wanted to do that I couldn’t do.  I was unprepared.  I was late for events.  I blew off events because I was too tired to attend and became indifferent to social activities. I felt sick and then I felt guilty for being sick because I shouldn’t be sick on awesome life events. Guilt was constantly in the back of my mind.

This year I’m letting all of that go.  I don’t have any big events to plan and I don’t have any expectations on me.  It’s quite wonderful.

Freedom is my word of choice this year.

The freedom to work out or to spend the time reading a book.  The freedom to go out if I have the energy and to stay home and sleep if I don’t.  The freedom to call friends I enjoy talking to but not to feel obligated to call someone just because I know it’s been too long. The freedom to spend days doing exactly what I want to do.  I’m allowing myself to make more mistakes and to think of what I really want above what may make someone else happier.  I’m giving myself the freedom to be slightly more unavailable and not to schedule my days around the convenience of others.

This word sums up all of my other goals, and by focusing on it I feel confident that everything else will fall into place.

This word is especially relevant after our trip to Tanzania.  We forget how much freedom we have in the USA.  For instance, I can travel almost anywhere in the world at whim.  I can also pack my bags and decide to live somewhere else.  There’s beauty and freedom in that.  Although I may not have the finances or time to do whatever I want and to go wherever I want, the government won’t stop me.  I also have the freedom to work or stay at home or go to school or have as many children as I want or get great medical care… Freedom means everything.

I’m looking forward to you, 2013!