How I ended up with a Turkish rug I never knew I wanted.

I’m any seller’s dream customer.

I can’t help it, I’m easy to convince that I absolutely need a product.

Even if that product is a $1400 rug.  No, we didn’t actually pay that much, but that was the starting price!

The Monster was kind enough to model our new rug for me!

Our little Monster was kind enough to model our new rug for me!  He usually charges for appearances, but because we fed him today he did this sitting for free.

It all started with a scarf.  We were in Istanbul and I decided that I needed a souvenir scarf, since I hadn’t bought any gifts from Tanzania or Turkey.  So, to the scarf stall we went.

This is when I knew I was in trouble.

The salesman showed me the cheap scarves (the 15 dollar scarves that I wanted to choose between), then he showed me the more expensive scarves (100+ dollars) and then he brought out the $350 scarves and that’s when I drew the line!  But, I must admit I did splurge for the moderately expensive scarf.

It’s beautiful and silk, darn it!  

Anyway, the salesman (at this point realizing I’m a sucker for a good sales pitch) told us that his uncle has a rug store, and quickly escorted us to the small shop down the road.  The Husband wasn’t the most willing participant, but I wanted to see actual Persian rugs.

Well, at first I thought for sure that I would never actually buy one of these rugs.  I mean, I didn’t love any that I was seeing but I did like hearing about how they were made and seeing all the different types.

Then I saw one I wanted.  DAMMIT ALL!  I knew I was in trouble.

The salesman picked right up on my changed expression and went into official ‘sales’ mode.  The Husband was great at saying no.  I wasn’t quite as good.

We told the store owner that we newlyweds and therefore broke.

The price came down.

We told him we didn’t even need a rug (lie, we totally did need a rug – I just hadn’t realized it until the very second I saw the one I loved in this small store in Istanbul!).

The price came down even more.

We told him that we had no room in our suitcases to bring it back to the States.

The price came down further and the man pulled out a tiny bag and somehow managed to fit the rug inside of it!  Magic.

Basically, by the time I was invested in the conversation and really needed this rug.

The Husband thought I had completely lost my mind.

The salesman was mostly talking to the Husband, who kept referring him to me since I was going to be actually purchasing the goods.  Ah, sexism at work.

Anyway, we finally all agreed on a price.

The Husband shook his head quite a few times.

OK, he shook his head more than a few times.

But now I have a rug, and a beautiful rug it is!

It really is one of the best ‘souvenirs’ I’ve ever bought myself, and by far the most expensive.  Take that, cheesy shot glasses – you’ve been replaced!

love

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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!

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!

A (long) wedding recap, because it was kind of a big deal.

50 days (or so) after our wedding and I still don’t really know what to say about it.

I could do a whole post on why I loved having a destination wedding.

Or another one about my favorite memories.

Or multiple blog posts on awesome events that happened leading up to it.

Or maybe a post on the stressful process (total understatement, some of the process was a complete nightmare) of wedding planning.

Or even a rant about how I really hate the WIC (wedding industrial complex).

But instead I think I’ll write a post about how my wedding wasn’t perfect and why it was totally ok (because it turns out that life isn’t very perfect!)

Our wedding wasn’t perfect from the start.  There was stress about getting engaged and stress about where to have the wedding and I was ready to get engaged and the Husband was taking his time and I wanted a certain venue (in Jamaica) and it was booked for 2012 and I have a fear of odd numbers so we couldn’t get married in 2013 (nor did I want to be engaged that long).  We decided to get married in Jamaica because I refused to get married anywhere else and we started researching venues before our engagement.  The Husband’s family found out somehow and brought it up at dinner and we announced the date before I had a ring on my finger.  The Husband asked my parents’ permission and I asked my dad about the budget all before the engagement.  By the time the Husband actually proposed, the venue was set and the date was picked and my extended relatives already had gotten emails from my parents to ‘save-the-date.’  Once we got engaged the Facebook posts exploded and I had to text friends so they wouldn’t find out online.

If I would have known I would be getting engaged that morning, I would have done my hair!

If I would have known I would be getting engaged that morning, I would have done my hair!

This was far from the engagement story I had hoped for.  But it was perfect.  The proposal was emotional, my family was super-thrilled, my friends were happy for me and called to hear details, and the ring is beyond-gorgeous.  I thought I told the Husband ‘yes’ when he asked me to marry him, but evidently I just asked if I could put the ring on that instant.  Same thing, right?

Fast forward to the (imperfect) planning process…

Planning the wedding itself was super easy and stress-free, seriously.  Budget conversations with my family were not.  Tears were shed and I got angry and then I got over it and we moved on.  Siblings said they weren’t going to be in our wedding party for various reasons.  Then they changed their minds. Close friends and family members said they were coming and then changed their minds because things came up.  Other friends and family members sent their regrets and well wishes.  RSVPs are an emotional time that i was quite unprepared for!  But, other friends and family members sent gifts and cards and happy notes and thoughtful notes and called to check-in on us and came to our housewarming/engagement party and made the whole process super-fun.  I loved picking out my dress with my mom, and the Husband’s mom and his sister… we had a great time.  My aunts drove in from Cincinnati to have a mini-shower and spend a day doing brunch and it was wonderful.  My cousin threw me a family shower in Cincinnati and I had the best time catching up with women I don’t see often enough.

My bachelorette party was the most fun I had ever had (up until the week of my wedding).  My friends came in from all over the country and we ate a homemade dinner (with gourmet food) and painted and went to a bar and drank wine and laughed and laughed and laughed.  They bought me sexy gifts and thoughtful gifts and wrote sweet notes and my heart could still explode with happiness thinking about that weekend.

bachelorette party

Then November came and we were ready to get married! I started feeling sick the weekend before the wedding and by the time I got to Jamaica I had no appetite at all. It was my worst nightmare coming true.  But, I greeted all guests when they arrived at the resort and cannot even explain the happiness of seeing all of my best friends in one place.  The people who were supposed to be there were there and I never once thought about those who couldn’t make it.  Everyone had a blast jumping off cliffs, snorkeling, eating jerk chicken and lobster, and drinking the bartenders concoctions.  We played ping pong and bags and tanned by the pool.  One night we played beer pong.  We went to sleep early and woke up early and saw dolphins during breakfast.  I drank coconut milk straight from a coconut that had been cut down from a nearby tree in front of our eyes.  We had an amazing villa but didn’t spend any time in it because we spent all of our time with guests.  Laughter and love was everywhere.  We drank fruit smoothies and banana moons and watched the sunset over the ocean.  Friends bonded over volleyball in the pool.  We got massages and pedicures and manicures.

The rehearsal was fun and laid back.  The rehearsal dinner was so well put together that some people (after a few drinks) thought that the wedding was over.  We had to gently remind guests that the ‘real’ event was the next day.  The Husband’s dad gave a speech and I cried and the food was delicious (so they say, I didn’t get to eat any of it) and I carried around a Sprite to help calm my stomach.  We played a crossword game and I’ve never laughed so hard. Guests sat together and friends of ours became friends with each other and families got along and my hair was frizzy in the humidity.

gazebo

The wedding day came and I woke up early to throw up.  Then I continued to throw up.  And the guests drank and played on the cliffs and hung out in the pool and recapped events of the night before.  The photographers came early (as planned) but I couldn’t sit up. so they left to take photos of the resort and the groomsmen. My mom spent time with me and I cried.  The Husband gave me my wedding gift early and I cried.  The bridesmaids got their hair done and the hotel called a doctor.  The doctor gave me a shot and I stopped throwing up ginger tea and the hair and makeup team came and made me beautiful.  I even took a shower and shaved (but I didn’t wash my hair).  My bridesmaids and mom helped me into my dress but they couldn’t pull it tight because my stomach would heave.  My dress was a little loose but still looked gorgeous (in my opinion).  We pushed the wedding back 30 minutes because of the delay in getting me ready.  I was nervous that I might throw up on the altar but I didn’t.  We had sent the pastor the wrong ‘script’ so our ceremony didn’t mention God except for the readings, which was not our intent.  But, it was short and sweet and perfect and no one noticed.  Our bridesmaids and groomsmen looked flawless.  Ants bit the bridesmaids all ceremony and during pictures, which was quite funny because it wasn’t happening to me.

My support system was pretty stellar.

My support system was pretty stellar.

We took sunset pictures with the wedding party, and each other, and the guests.

sunset

The food at the reception was delicious, the speeches were outstanding, the cake was beautiful and delicious, the centerpieces were elegant, the scene was out-of-this-world beautiful, and the dancing was the most fun I’ve ever had.  I ate chicken broth and drank a sip of champagne and tried to smile a lot more than I felt like smiling during dinner.  There was a fire dancer and we were in awe. After everyone ate (way too much) the guests got tipsy and sweaty and danced with each other and danced with their dates and danced with new friends and danced with me and the Husband and everyone took shots and smoked cigars and I was happier than I thought was humanly possible.  The photographers had to go but the dancing continued until the DJ stopped at 11pm and no one was ready to leave.  I’ve never seen 100% of guests on a dance floor before and it was truly something special.

dancing

I went to bed with all of my makeup on and my hair still done.  I was so relieved to get to my room where I could lay down.  Our room was decorated with flower petals and candles and the Husband took pictures of it while I was curled up in bed, fast asleep under our mosquito net.  The guests kept partying and my uncle wore snorkel gear into the hot tub.  Memories were made well into the night (so I was told).

The next day I felt a tiny bit better and put on a bikini and jumped off of the cliffs with my new husband.  We joined everyone for breakfast and said goodbye to some of the guests.  We spent the next few days enjoying time with our friends and family and going to Ricks Cafe and watching cliff jumpers and enjoying more sunsets and taking pictures and smiling a lot.  We were sad to say goodbye to our guests and even more sad to eventually leave Jamaica ourselves.

and that about wraps up our wedding experience!  It wasn’t absolutely perfect, but it was the best week of my life and most of the events leading up to it were highlights of my year/life.  It was definitely better than I had ever hoped for and guests still talk about it constantly, which makes every ounce of stress worth it.

The Husband and I are now building our perfectly imperfect marriage and I expect that it will closely follow our wedding: it probably won’t meet all of my lofty expectations in all areas, but I anticipate it will greatly exceed my wildest dreams of how happy I can be at any moment.