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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I just had the most delicious weekend.

I had a phenomenal weekend this past weekend.  The kind of weekend where I can breathe a sigh of relief and contentment on Sunday night because I finished everything I wanted to do and feel caught up on life and saw friends and ate great food and drank quality drinks and all-around feel fulfilled.

I am savoring every second of these happy and content feelings because some weekends are frustrating and sad and lonely and unproductive, but this weekend was not one of those and for that I am thankful.

I won’t go through every single thing I did, but actually I’ll probably end up listing it all anyway.  Sorry about that, just bear with me.

Publican

On Friday the Husband and I went out with a high school friend of mien and her husband at a place in Chicago I’ve been meaning to go forever – The Publican.  It was fantastic.  I was happy that they had seafood dishes because it’s basically known for its  meat and beer and I don’t eat or drink either one of those.  It was tapas style and the dishes were delicious and we shared so much great food and laughed over beers and scallops and hams and mussels in beer broth.

Dave and Rachel dined with us on Friday.

Great friends, great drinks, great food… nothing beats this!

Speaking of which, you’ll be happy to know (well, you probably don’t care, but I’m at least happy to tell you) that I’ve settled on my ‘adult drink of choice’ which is Ketel One and water with lemon.  Perfection in a glass.

I spent my Saturday shopping on Michigan Avenue with one of my absolute favorite people ever, Miss Brittany.

Well, first we went to Xoco.  I had never been there before and it did not disappoint in the slightest.

I got the fish stew.  To-die-for delicious.

I got the fish stew. To-die-for delicious.

Now, I really don’t go shopping very often (I promise!), but lately I’ve really been figuring out things I need to buy and have been going at this list with extra-enthusiasm.  Our stores-of-choice for this shopping expedition were Sephora, Anthropologie, and Nordstrom Rack.  The things I purchased included: a cardigan (yes, another one), raspberry jeans, an ‘&’ sign for house decor, a candle, conditioner, blush, bronzer, exfoliator, moisturizer, foundation, eye liner, eye shadow, lip liner, lip gloss, a winter coat…. it was exhausting.  I found some awesome deals, too!

After our productive afternoon, Brit & I went out to dinner to celebrate our most fantastic and successful shopping day of all time at Vermillion with our significant others where I got the most AMAZING vegetarian dish I’ve ever eaten.  I’m not even being dramatic, it was that delicious.  We all belly-laughed and enjoyed cocktails and dined on Indian food (and other infusion-type dishes) and stayed for hours and hours.  I even ordered three desserts and we finished every morsel.

Brit and the Husband (mine, obviously, not hers)

Brit and the Husband (mine, obviously, not hers)

Today I woke up and went to CrossFit and the Husband and I ran some errands and bought a piece of furniture and some frames and then we went to church and ate dinner.  Perfection.

My credit card is a bit overwhelmed after all of the use its gotten in the past few days, but I am so, so happy that I took care of so many things I’ve been saying I needed to buy for weeks.

And now I’m watching the Blackhawks and I’m about to read and cuddle with my little monster.

Perfect weekend?  I think so.

I hope everyone else has had an equally wonderful weekend.

Receiving an unexpected gift in the mail is my very favorite thing.

I really love receiving gifts in the mail.  Actually, that would imply that I often receive gifts in the mail, which would be quite misleading.  By ‘gifts’ I mean that I love receiving packages in the mail that I’ve ordered myself (online shopping, you are too good to me) and have forgotten about by the time they arrive – so you see, it’s exactly like getting a gift… except I have to pay for it myself.  I was going to make the title of this post long enough to explain that whole thing, but then remembered that this isn’t Twitter.

Since we did just have that whole wedding thing, we were constantly receiving gifts from other people and I loved it.  But even with weddings it’s kind of like buying yourself gifts with other people’s credit cards.  That whole registry thing is semi-awesome.  It’s only semi-awesome and not really awesome because I absolutely hated registering and really don’t need any more ‘stuff’… but the things we did register for we LOVED getting and use all of the time.  I’m a bigger believer in the registry now than before I was married, that’s for sure.

Well, that was a tangent.  The point is, when I open up a just-received package it’s like my birthday!  I always wonder what’s in there and if it will fit and sometimes I subsequently wonder what the heck I was thinking when I ordered a dress I knew would be 2 sizes too big.  That’s really another topic altogether, probably.

Oh Kate Spade, everything you make is wonderful.  Thank you for my new hat.

Oh Kate Spade, everything you make is wonderful. Thank you for my new hat.

This weekend I opened up a whole package from Piperlime and another one from Sephora.  Today I ordered a few cardigans from Banana Republic which I will undoubtedly forget about by next week when they should arrive… And I think yesterday I also may have purchased a few things from Birchbox… The crazy thing is, I don’t even remember!  See how fun this is?!  By the time these boxes come I will be so surprised/happy/in awe of how I know myself well enough to buy the perfect gift.

I hope someone (everyone!?) else can relate.  It’s the little things.

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.

Last weekend was perfect… And this is a very belated post.

Last weekend was my favorite type of weekend.  And this blog post is evidently very belated because it’s almost time for the next weekend.  Fuck.  Anyway, this shall not get me down and I’ll tell ya’ll *I’m not southern but one of my best friends lives in Knoxville, TN so I think that gives me license to say this, right?* about my last weekend since it was stellar.

(As a sidenote: why the heck do I never take pictures of epic awesome weekends?!  I’m always having too much fun to take pictures and immediately regret this decision when I look back on the super-fun times and have no photos!  Next time… I’ll take pictures next time.  I’ve been saying this for years.)

Thank goodness someone else bothered to take a picture of me and the birthday boy!  Weekend recorded.

Thank goodness someone else bothered to take a picture of me and the birthday boy! Weekend recorded.

My weekend was filled with… A double-date with Brit & Whit at Table Fifty-Two (fancy southern comfort food!  It was ah-mazing). Drinking wine. Errands/Being Productive. Finishing wedding thank you notes. A great friend’s 30th birthday party at Burton Place (a dive bar in Old Town) where we got to meet new people. Going to Crossfit. Brunch with the ladies. Watching football. Playing with our little monster-of-a-dog. Attending a soup-off competition with the Husband’s extended family (the best part about these is that I never cook anything but I’m still allowed to be a judge).

Any weekend involving soup is a good weekend.

Ah, a delicious and well-balanced (meaning tons of carbs) lunch.  Soup for every meal!

Ah, a delicious and well-balanced (meaning tons of carbs) lunch. Soup for every meal!

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.