Enjoy Your Engagement

As I’ve rambled on about before, I learned a lot in planning my wedding and would do lots of things different if I had a time machine. I don’t though, so let me pass on some tips to you! So many of the lessons I came away with after my wedding could come to one simple thing: I wish I had enjoyed my engagement, and the whole process, more. I get it: It’s super easy to get caught up in the details. You want to plan the BEST day ever and completely lose yourself while striving for a Pinterest perfect wedding. But it could come at a cost. Your sanity.

Save yourself from an embarrassing meltdown like I had and avoid having regrets.

enjoying your engagement tip picture

So without further ado, here’s some of my own tips for enjoying your engagement to the fullest:

-Be organized without overdoing it. Not everything needs to be color-coded and meticulously organized, but you do need a basic system so that you can easily find something when you need it. Keep all your wedding items and papers in one place (the corner of a spare bedroom or closet is great), and have a binder or folder with the most important papers, including a checklist, phone numbers of vendors, etc., that you can take with you to appointments or planning sessions with your bridal party.

-Ask for help! Seriously. Don’t suck it up and do it all yourself like I tried to, because you simply can’t do it unless you find a way to live without sleep. Enlist your bridal party, parents, crafty friends, co-workers, whoever you can get. Bribe them with candy. Whatever it takes to get some assistance in any area you need. And revel in the great people in your life that are willing to take time out of their day for you!

-Stick to (and make) a budget. When you get to the point you’ve realized you’ve overspent, there’s probably not much you can do to take it back, so don’t let it happen in the first place. Remember that it’s more important to invest in your marriage, not your wedding.

-Breathe. If you’re starting to feel overwhelmed, sit back, close your eyes for a minute and simply breathe deeply. It’s crazy how much something as simple as that can help you calm down. If that’s not enough, walk away and do something else for awhile. Try yoga even!

-Have plenty of date nights with your fiancé. Make time for each other and be in the moment! It’s so important to not let your relationship slide to the back burner during this time. You’re engaged! Enjoy it! Prioritize spending quality time together and find fun ways to connect. I think it’s also important to talk a lot. Get to know each other on a deeper level. Ask each other hard questions. It’s amazing what you learn about your partner when you take the time to ask!

-Make lots of time for you. Go ahead, get massages leading up to the big day, schedule a facial and plenty of pedicures! Pamper yourself, because loving yourself is important too. If you’re tight on money, have an at-home spa day, or devote one entire weekend day to reading on the couch with your fave beverage. Go for a long walk in the park. Whatever it takes to relax your mind, have some fun and recharge your battery without doing anything wedding-related.

-Think about your expectations of your husband, bridal party and close family members and communicate to them what EXACTLY you want out of them. Never assume anything. (I assumed my mom would show up to help me get ready before the ceremony, but she didn’t because I didn’t tell her to be there. She simply didn’t know and wanted to help make sure the church was prepared and greet guests as they arrived, which was nice, but not what I had envisioned. That is 100% my fault.)

-Stick to your guns. Don’t let anyone else persuade you from wandering from your wedding-day dreams. If you really truly want to walk down the aisle to Spice Girls, do it. If you want to serve broccoli-flavored cake, do it. Who cares if someone thinks it’s weird or untraditional. It’s your day. Do what YOU want. They have/had their own day to do what they want.

-Accept the fact that things more than likely will go wrong on your wedding day and leading up to it. You probably will be disappointed in something, someone will make your big day all about them, and people you thought you could rely on may fail you. And as much as all of that sucks, it’s completely normal and there’s nothing you can do about it.

-Remember the big picture. What’s most important at the end of the day is that you get to marry the man (or woman!) you love. View your wedding as a success if that happens. As long as you and your spouse are happy with your decisions, you’re set.

The reason I think it’s so important to have an enjoyable engagement is so that you can carry it into your upcoming marriage. You want to set a good tone for your new life together. You don’t want to go into it frantic and frazzled! You (probably) only get to be engaged once, so you want to be able to look back on that time of your life and smile. It’s a happy time; enjoy it!

Why is Marriage Portrayed so Negatively on TV?

jeff dunham and walter

Image from commons.wikimedia.org

My husband was watching a Jeff Dunham special on TV the other day, and one of the show’s characters, Walter (a grumpy old man puppet), made a remark that really made me upset. He was talking about his wife said something to the effect of, “When you’re dating, all you want to do is make out in the car. When you’re married, all you want to do is run her over with the car.”

Now, I know it’s just a joke coming from a silly puppet, but I think that’s completely besides the point. It certainly wasn’t the first time I’ve heard someone on TV make a remark about how much they hate their wife. Al Bundy made some kind of comment to that effect each episode of Married With Children. More common themes include men complaining about how all their women do is whine and nag, spend all their husbands’ money, and took their freedom and fun away.

Is it becoming OK to despise your wife? To the point you joke about killing her?! What on earth does it say to still be married to this woman then? I would hope that if a marriage got to that point where you can’t stand your spouse you would no longer be together. Although I do believe divorce is becoming too much of an easy escape in times of trouble these days, but that’s a whole separate blog post.

That comment from Walter was even more painful for me, thinking of how a man, an actual man (Jeff Dunham) wrote that joke. Jeff himself was married for many years, and now is divorced. Maybe he’s just bitter and writing jokes fueled from that emotion, but that doesn’t make it right. Or funny.

I know there’s plenty of other shows on TV that do portray marriage in a better light, or at least in a more real way, but those are few and far between, and I doubt many impressionable youth are tuning in to those shows. I’d like to think that these off-color comments are not making their way into the minds of young people (and adults!), but I’m sure to some extent they are. The more you see or hear something, the more you start to believe it.

It makes me sad to see marriage, which is such a wonderful thing, joked about. Marriage is hard and each couple will have their arguments and issues, but never should it be OK to make comments about how much you hate your spouse. Marriage is sacred. You say your vows to this person to love and honor them till death do you part. (Cue another joke from Walter about the death part.) I don’t know about you, but I meant mine.

Is marriage just a big joke to Hollywood? Doing some quick Googling while writing this post, I found an article that said television can affect how we feel about marriage and our own spouse. I know it’s true to some extent for me. I love the TV show, King of Queens, and in that show, the wife Carrie is often nagging and making fun of her own husband, calling him fatty and other less than loving things. I don’t call my husband names, but I do find myself nagging more than I should, possibly because I see it so much on TV, so it becomes more “acceptable.”

But at what point did it ever become acceptable to make marriage a giant joke? Your spouse the object of ridicule and hateful remarks? I, for one, don’t like it one bit. Not that I know what to do about it, or what my point was writing this post, but I just wanted to get that off my chest. Phew.

The Value of Friends

This past weekend, a good friend of mine came to visit. Amy and I met in college freshman year when we had a few of the same classes together. After two years in the dorms, we moved into a real apartment together and she was my first real world roommate. We get along grand. Since she moved away, I only get to see her a few times a year, and when we do get time together, it’s really nice. We’re both low-key people and prefer to stay in and hang out and drink wine and just catch up on each other’s lives. This time, though, I wanted to go try out a new restaurant in town that’s all the rage, a German-themed pub called the Wurst Bier Hall (clever, right?!). The drinks were pretty good (this beer wussie loved the pear cider), but I thought the food was a little overrated, but who cares. It was the company that was best.

with my friend at wurst bier hall

I’ve never been one to make friends easily. I’m incredibly shy, and opening up to new people is really hard. Many people would label me as a snob because of it, which can be hard when someone doesn’t give you a chance and judges based on an assumption. But over the years, I’ve learned to let that go. If you don’t want to get to know me, fine. You’re not worth my time then. I’d rather focus on the small handful of people who have gone beyond the surface and made that effort to get to know me.

I’ve never understood how some people can just talk to anyone they meet like they’re old friends. The funny thing is that nearly all of my friends are like that though! They are mostly exactly the opposite of me. They’re friendly, talkative and outgoing. They can easily swap life stories with the checkout lady. At social gatherings, they’re the ones telling jokes and hamming it up while I sit awkwardly in the corner observing. And that’s how I like it.

Give me a chance though, peel back some of the Amanda layers, and I will start to open up … and eventually never shut up. In those small setting with my closest friends, I feel so comfortable. That’s the real me that comes out. Few people get to really see it, and I guess in a way, I treat my friendships as gifts that I don’t just give to anyone. You have to earn me!

Life’s sort of this funny journey where along the way you pick up people who stick around. Some others come and go, and that’s OK. But those few that stick are really special.

I met my best friend Amanda when I was probably less than a year old in the church nursery. Well, technically, our moms met because of the nursery and they became friends, so naturally, we grew up together and stayed friends too. For 28 years, almost my entire life, she’s been in it, and that makes it so special. We have tons of memories and experiences together, and we saw each other through every single awkward and awesome moment.

The Amandas on our first day of school

The Amandas on our first day of school

Years later she was my matron of honor

Years later she was my matron of honor

Even though Amy and Amanda are some of my very best friends, for some reason, since they both live far away from me, we tend to not keep up while we’re apart. Maybe it’s because we’re busy, maybe we’re lazy, maybe there’s no good reason and that’s just how things are. The thing is, the second we’re together again, it’s just like old times and it goes right back to where we left off. We have Facebook to keep us updated on some of the daily life events, but we’re always there for the big events now. Maybe that’s strange, but it works for me.

I then met Meredith at what I consider to be my first “real” job. At our local Fargo newspaper, I got hired to write obits and do some of the other odd newsroom jobs, and she trained me in on that job as she was moving on to copy editor there. We found out pretty quickly that we had lots in common, and it all snowballed. I don’t think there’s been barely a week we’ve gone without hanging out since then.

with mer

She pushes me to do cool, fun things. We’ve gone on many road trips to concerts and even back to Indiana, and we love going out to the movies or for margaritas. It’s pretty crazy stuff, I know, but otherwise I’d be sitting at home, so I appreciate this. She’s the one I’m constantly emailing back and forth with, often while also texting and IMing, and talking to for endless hours about who knows what. She now is engaged, and it’s so fun to help her plan her wedding since she was such a rock to me when I planned mine.

These days, I count my mother as a friend too. You know, once you get past those angsty teenage years, you start to see how cool your mom is and actually want to be around her more! And now that she lives 800 miles away, I miss her so much. Like my girlfriends, when we get together now, we giggle uncontrollably, and then she looks over my paperwork to tell me which 401k plan I should choose. I spend hours on the phone with her every week, and no one is more excited about hearing about my life than she is. That’s what moms are for though, right?

But my best friend above all now is my husband. He may not know about all those embarrassing things about me from when I was 14 (thankfully), but he has become my confidant now. He knows everything I worry about, everything I love, everything I want. He knows what I do when I get home from work and he knows what makes me tick. And that’s how it should be, I think. The relationship with your husband has to go deep. You have to love being with that person every single moment and tell them every single thing. To be close, to stay connected, to have a solid marriage, I think they have to be your best friend.

That being said, even the husband will never really fill the gaps of your girlfriends. They can’t dish on how cray cray the last episode of The Bachelor was, they can’t understand how much you friggin’ love cupcakes, they can’t tell you that new skirt is adorable and try on 20 of them with you at the mall, they can’t spend hours at a jewelry party and love every second of it, they can’t giggle uncontrollably with you about the cute guy over there, they can’t debate Ryan Gosling versus Ryan Reynolds, and they certainly can’t understand what’s going on with you that time of the month.

All of these people in our lives round us out, and we need all of them to be our best. We’re not really complete without them. Sure, it’s great to be a powerful, independent women, but it’s also great having people you can’t live without.  I’m sure I’ll feel the same if and when I have children, too. It will be one of those blanks I don’t really know I have now, but is added on my journey through life that becomes something I couldn’t have expected would mean so much.

What do friends mean to you?

10 Favorite Things About My Husband

Linking up with the lovely Brianna today for 10 Favorite Things! In honor of Valentine’s Day coming up soon, and our 9-year dating anniversary in about a week (I know the dating anniversary doesn’t matter anymore, but I want to keep celebrating it till we hit 10 years), it was a perfect topic.

10 Favorite Things About That Special Someone

1. I love my husband’s sense of humor. It’s cliche, but so true for us. He is the funniest person I know and we laugh together a lot.

2. I love that we have lots of things in common, but are very different in many ways. He rounds me out:)

3. I love that while 99% of the time he’s a big tough man, I get to see some occasional moments of weakness and deep down emotions.

4. I love that for the most part, he’s tidy. For some bizarre reason, he loves vaccuming and doing the dishes. And I’m forgetful and get distracted easily, so he often has to pick up after me.

5. I love that he very rarely complains about my shortcomings. I know I have a lot, but he never points them out, though I can be a nagging wife and point his out. Which is unfair, and I need to change that.

6. I love that every time I get groceries, he helps me carry them in without a single complaint. And he always takes the heavy bags so I can have the light ones.

7. I love that he makes voices and personalities for our pets and has conversations as them.

8. I love that he lets me deck out our apartment like a crazy cat lady. I have cat pictures, figurines and trinkets all over the place. I know if it was entirely up to him, none of that would be there, but he lets me create the surroundings that I like without complaint.

9. He is truly a really nice guy. He likes to put on a show when he’s in a crowd and tell jokes and be the center of attention, which can make him come off as loud or inconsiderate to some who don’t know him, but I’ve seen another, very caring and considerate side. When it comes to defending his friends or his family, he will do it to the death, and he cares about the people he loves so much.

10. He is going to make a great father one day. He grew up in a large family with lots of kids, so maybe that’s why it comes natural to him, but I am the total opposite. Knowing that he will be there to help me through parenthood makes me feel really good.

And now, just because, a bunch of photos of us!

Quite possibly our first photo together, circa 2005, in the college dorms

Quite possibly our first photo together, circa 2005, in the college dorms

Before we went to our first concert (and road trip!) together

Before we went to our first concert (and road trip!) together

At my best friend's wedding. Our first wedding together!

At my best friend’s wedding. Our first wedding together!

and then we got engaged!

and then we got engaged!

and then we got married!

and then we got married!

and then we honeymooned in New Orleans!

and then we honeymooned in New Orleans!

From Ms. to Mrs: The Story of Changing My Name

I was pretty certain my whole life that when I got married, I’d change my last name. Being a sociology minor though, I did have a period of doubting that. I actually met a few people who broke the societal norm – the chair of the department took his wife’s last name, and a classmate who got married made up a new last name that both she and her husband took. I thought it was super cool, and I totally got it. Why should the woman have to make the sacrifice? It’s essentially like a new identity, especially if you’re well into your career and have established yourself with your maiden name. My own mom has some regrets about changing hers for various reasons.

For me, in the end, I still wanted to take my husband’s last name. In several ways, I consider myself modern and sometimes even a feminist. But another part of me is very traditional. I liked the idea of being unified with my husband by name. It shows the world we belong together. It showed his family that I was proud to join them. If and when we have children, we’ll all share one last name. The idea of saying “the Hoflands” was really appealing to me.

At the same time, I spent 27 years of my life with one name, and parting with it made me a little sad. It became my identity. I was attached to it. My nickname in high school was my last name. Few people actually called me Amanda. Plus, I had many published stories from my time at the magazine and other endeavors in my maiden name. I didn’t have it in me to totally throw it away.

My compromise to please both the nostalgic part of me with the traditionalist was to make my maiden name a second middle name. In the eyes of the law, I’m a Hofland. That’s what I scribble on my checks now. But knowing that my maiden name is still legally a part of me, now as a middle name, is comforting. It’s just tucked in there whether I want to use it or not. For my professional writing post-marriage, I did decide to use both so my articles could be linked.

I gotta tell you though: Holy cow, I was not prepared for the process of changing it. It was for more involved than I ever could have imagined. If you’ve ever moved, you know how many places you have to change your address. But for changing your name? Double it. Or more.

To do it, I took a few name-change checklists from the Internet and combined them into what applied to me, adding and deleting till I had a complete list of every single place I could think of that had my name somewhere. Of course there’s the social security office, DMV, banks, credit card companies, TV and Internet service, etc., but so many other forgotten places like the library, magazine subscriptions, dentist, even your Amazon registration.

I printed out my massive list and carried it around with me for months. During breaks at work, I’d go through a few each day. What no one told me about this process was how many copies of my certified marriage certificate I’d need. Not just any old photocopy. A CERTIFIED copy. With some kind of “seal” from the courthouse. Which cost $10 for each copy. And most places wanted to keep that one copy that cost me $10. Awesome.

Thankfully not every entry on the list needed a certified copy, but probably at least 5 or more did. Some wanted that certified copy mailed to them with an application for a name change, some wanted a regular copy faxed to them with a hand-written cover sheet, some allowed me to just email them a scanned file of it, and a select few needed no evidence and took my word for it (God bless those ones).

Every single one required an initial phone call to find out what the procedure was, and that meant lots of time on hard-to-navigate automated systems that takes you in circles, talking to foreign people with such thick accents I couldn’t understand a thing, being transferred around multiple departments, multiple times, and playing many rounds of phone tag. I was on the phone so much over those few months changing my name that I went over on my voice usage. Which I’ve never done before.

It was a GIANT pain. That’s one of the things no one warned me about, how dang time-consuming it would be. The best part: Some still haven’t gotten it right. Many months later, Wells Fargo is still struggling to get it changed (three emails, many phone calls and two in-person branch visits later). DirecTV was the next worst. Because my old roommate was still listed on my account, they had to have her permission first, which in itself was a pain. She and I were both on the phone with them about three or more times each, each time getting a different story from each person we talked to. I wanted to scream. Actually, I did. I screamed a lot. I didn’t see why it was so hard and was taking so long.

But was it worth it? Absolutely. I love being a Hofland. One night I told my husband that I’m glad I have his name. His reply: “No, it’s our name now.” I melted.

My 2014 Resolutions: EFFORT

I’ve been working on this post for well over a week. It’s been a draft that I just keep adding to and tweaking till it felt right. Finally, 14 revisions later, the big reveal!

If 2014 wants to be nearly as awesome as my 2013 was, it’s got a lot to live up to. But, I have high hopes and want to use every day to work toward changes. I’ve read articles that suggested making much smaller, achievable goals like giving more hugs or eating more leafy greens, but I decided to go big this year. I want to be ambitious. I may not achieve all my resolutions, and that’s OK. I at least want to put forth that effort to try.

I was inspired by Charlene’s blog post about picking one word to define your goals, your year, and for me that word is effort. Because I need to make much more effort in each of the areas below that I’ve made resolutions. Here’s to effort in 2014!

Financial goals

GET OUT OF DEBT!  I am already working hard on paying off my credit cards, and just instituted Dave Ramsey’s debt snowball idea to help me get there faster. In just 6 months, I think I can eliminate half of my credit card debt, and I WILL stick to that plan. I’m very motivated for this one. Because otherwise, no house for me, and I badly want to be in a house. And be able to comfortably afford it without living paycheck to paycheck. Once my cards are in a much better spot, we will…

Build up savings. We need to be saving for a house and an in general emergency fund. I have some in savings already, but I’ve dipped into it for bad reasons, and that also has to stop. With proper budgeting, meal planning, couponing, checkbook balancing and planning ahead, I should never ever have to touch my savings again except to put more in or take some out for that house or major emergency.

Pet-related goals

Last year, I had a resolution to walk my dog more often, and while I succeeded a little bit, I still didn’t do it nearly as often as I should have. I blame the combination of laziness and frantically planning my wedding, then the summer and fall to follow with more commitments than I’ve ever had and a seriously busy year. Anyway, no more excuses! This year, I’m carrying over that resolution again: to walk Brick more often, and if I can’t because of whatever reason, he at least deserves more play time and training.

My other dog-related resolution is working on ways to keep Brick from jumping on guests when they come in the house. I knew it was a nuisance, but just never took the time to really correct the behavior. I would use “band aids” by physically preventing him to jump and holding him by the collar as guests entered, then letting him loose once they were settled. But this just builds his excitement even more. I’ve made some small steps already to work on it by using common sense and basic training techniques, but I know there has to be even more I can be doing.

Relationship goals

Always put effort into my marriage. Like I want to give 100% in my job, I need to give even more to my marriage. I need to be more patient in general, but also with my husband. I need to stop interrupting and really listen. I need to be there more, like emotionally present and understanding.

I also really want to do regular date nights. Not too often, because we have a house to save for, but if we can find cheap way to dedicate to connecting on a regular basis, I think it will do us a lot of good. Now that I’m meal planning for us to save money, we haven’t actually gone out just the two of us, for a long time. And I miss it! Some days we can stay in and have a planned activity, or do free activities like picnic in the park, but we also really enjoy eating out, so we’ll fit in some of those trips as long as we can afford it and do it wisely (i.e., with coupons, gift cards, during happy hour, etc.).

Personal goals

Work on my punctuality and time management. One of my biggest flaws, in my opinion, has been that I am perpetually late. I rarely am on time for most things. It annoys me and I hate that about myself, but I just can’t seem to find ways to fix it. It’s not intentional by any means; it just sort of happens. I lose track of time. I get caught up in XYZ and realize all of a sudden, ‘OMG, I need to be there NOW!’ and rush out the door. That leaves me feeling frantic and upset that I let that happen, and I hate that I made people wait on me. I’ve got to find some ways to fix that. Anyone got some tips?

Be happier. I have a bit of a temper. I have anger issues. I have little to no patience when it comes to certain things. The dumbest part is it’s usually over really small, stupid things. I think the root of it is that I’m not very understanding of strangers’ situations. The biggest issue I have is with people that I think are inconsiderate. Most any time I go to the store, I rage about someone who is blocking an aisle and seems oblivious to it. I get upset that a child is screaming and stomping around next to me. What a waste of emotion to get worked up about that! Maybe the person is just really sidetracked about something in their life, or is intent on reading the label on something to make sure it’s a good product and simply didn’t see me. So instead of steaming that they’re jerks, I should step back and give them some slack. And maybe that screaming child is simply acting out because he’s sick and doesn’t feel well but doesn’t know how to contain it, or maybe he’s neglected or dealing with his own issues and is simply acting out to get attention from his parents. Who knows, but it’s not worth me self-sabotaging my own shopping trip because I can’t handle a few people who are doing something I think is annoying. Get over it and move on! Really, what I think I need to do is notice all of the good in the world around me, not the bad.

Worry less. I have a tendency to overanalyze. Many tasks I have to do I obsess over. And anything that happens in my life I obsess over. Every little thing gets me worked up. If I overdraft in my checking account, I think that I’m doomed and will end up homeless soon because I can’t manage my money. If my husband doesn’t text me back within a couple minutes while he’s out at band practice, I think he got stuck in a ditch and is dying.

I have to consider every scenario. Which made planning my wedding particularly hard. I thought that if I didn’t give my bridesmaids awesome gifts, they would hate me and not be my friend anymore. If I had to choose a caterer, I contacted every single caterer in a 30-mile radius, stalked their websites and Facebook pages, picked out my theoretical menu and calculated the cost at each. Because if I didn’t have the perfect menu at the right price, obviously my guests would be disappointed in the wedding and never speak to me again. What a waste of time and emotional energy! Let’s focus on the things that truly matter. Otherwise do a quick, rational analysis and move on.

Kick butt at my job and other commitments. Now that I’m in a job that truly fulfills me, where I feel appreciated and respected, I want to do my absolute best to reassure them and myself that I am the right person for this job. That means trying to not get sidetracked, staying on task, doing things ahead of schedule and putting 100% into everything I do.

I need to apply these same principles to my volunteer and freelance work. Because why bother with any of it if I’m not going to be doing my best at it?!

Eat better and live a healthier lifestyle. I’ve been surviving off junk food and couch potatoing for years. It’s got to stop. I have already been doing significantly better with my meal planning, but I need to be even stricter about it. I have meals planned now, but not snacks, so I still reach for those chips far more than I should. I’ve found that healthy food CAN be yummy too, so I want to keep trying and discovering new things that are better choices. Similarly, I’ve found some cool beauty and household products that are organic and natural, and I’d like to  be more conscious of the things I put ON my body and use in the house, too.

I also need to be more active. I used to do sports in high school, then pilates around college … but then I got lazy. We have a free gym at my new workplace. I should use it. I should dust off those pilates DVDs and do them on the weekends.

Maintain the house and organize more. I do a pretty good job at basic home maintenance, doing a few things every single weekend like sweeping and Swiffering, wiping off the counters and cleaning the toilet (and my husband vaccuums every weekend and does the dishes every day, bless his heart), but there are some areas that I let accumulate too much stuff. The kitchen table is absolutely awful, and the day after I get it looking presentable again, it’s messy once again. I need to come up with some kind of better filing system or a mail organizer or something to keep the clutter off the table. Our spare bedroom is also a disaster zone and the dumping ground for anything we can’t find a good place to put otherwise. We clean it up if we expect company soon who will be staying in there, otherwise, some days it’s like an episode straight out of Hoarders. Not even kidding.

Likewise, I need to tackle small spaces that have too much “stuff” too. I’ve done a couple closet clean ups, but I want to do a massive overhaul. I still have things in there I know I’m never going to wear again. And you don’t even want to see the magazine rack. I literally have magazines piled up on top of it feet high from 2007 and on. I will stop subscribing to new magazines, even if they are free (that’s been my downfall. A free subscription to Oprah, Brides and Better Homes & Gardens? Don’t mind if I do! But I never read them. I throw them in the corner.), until ALL my current ones are gone, and I will slowly start getting through the ones I have. Goal: Read one old magazine a week. Bring it to work to flip through on breaks.

My bookshelf is organized neatly, but has far too much in it. I recently came to the realization that of all the books I own, there are only a very small handful I actually ever intend to read more than once. So after I offer the ones I have read and won’t again, or never have and never will, to my friends, what is left over is going to Goodwill. End of story. On a kind of similar note, the recipe board in my Pinterest is overflowing with the same thing – stuff I’ve tried and won’t make again, and some things I pinned for fun that I never really plan to make or do. I will organize my pin boards and delete pins that aren’t useful. Who wants to scroll till the end of time trying to find that one recipe that I did actually like? Of the probably 100+ recipes pins, there’s only 5 or so that I have made and were successful enough I would make again.

My email is also full of clutter. I need to unsubscribe from newsletters that I just scan and delete anyway and work at getting my unread count to 0. I have 500 unread emails in my box right now. That’s down from 1,100 I had about a month ago when I did one round of purging. Don’t worry, I do scan it every single day for things from friends, coupons, blog related or other important things, but 90% of the junk I get I don’t care about. Arby’s has a new sandwich? Who cares; I haven’t been there in years! Unsubscribe please.

Be more fashion conscious. I’ve been working on my style more in the past yearish, but I can be even better. I have too many slept-in-too-late-throw-on-the-first-thing-I-see days. I saw a pin that had a weekly outfit organizer – it was a shallow, long storage tub that had cubes for each day of the week. I’d like to try each Sunday planning my outfits for the rest of the week so it’s one less thing I have to think about in my morning haze. After my closet is more cleaned out and I have the money to, I also need to add more staples to my wardrobe. I need more versatile pieces like plain T-shirts and tanks, cardigans, jeans and boots that I can rewear and accessorize in many different ways. Plus a few statement pieces for days when I feel a little wild. Rawr.

My faith. I grew up in a religious household in a religious family. But since I’ve been on my own, I’ve let my religion slide. Granted it has changed a little bit – I question some things and just don’t think I’m ever going to be a super religious person in general, but a few core basics of religion in general I miss. I used to pray, all the way through high school. Then in college I stopped. Who knows why. No good reason. I didn’t prioritize it. But now that I’m an adult and may have children on the horizon, I want to take some time for reflection and remember what values are important to me. I still won’t go to church every Sunday, read the Bible frequently or pray over every meal I eat, but I should fit in SOME aspect of faith back in my life. Which is pretty much nothing right now, which makes me feel really ashamed. Praying when there’s something worth praying about is something I want to do again. And maybe even expanding my horizons and reading up on other religions, or just spirituality in general, would benefit me. Remembering and trusting that something out there is bigger than me. I lose sight of that a lot.

Read more. I read about one book every other month for book club, but I have so many more books I want to read, some of which I already own. Set aside some time each week to read for fun too.

Blog goals

Schedule time in my day/week to devote to posting, as well as reading and commenting on other blogs. I was beating myself up for awhile because I felt like I was starting to fail already, but thanks to the advice I received, I realized that I can only do what’s achieveable, am inspired to write and have the time for. The goal will be at least one post a week, but if that doesn’t happen, that’s OK. If it’s more, even better!

I’m considering making a blog calendar so I have set goals and topics I should be posting about. I’m not sure if that will work for me, but I like the idea of scheduling that time. Of course, I can switch it around, but having some kind of outline might make me feel better about this whole thing.

Accountability

If I want to have greater chances at success at these goals/resolutions, I need to make a plan how HOW I will try to achieve them. My first step  will be literally penciling some of them into my planner. I live by my planner and setting deadlines for myself, so if I see that next Tuesday I’m supposed to organize the closet, I will. Simply saying, “some day” doesn’t work for me. I need to define specific times I’m going to work on tasks.

Some of them aren’t things I can schedule though, like being more patient and listening more, so I’m going to print out my resolution list and post it on my fridge, maybe even in the bedroom, bathroom and my work cube, so I see all the time the things I need to be focusing on. Maybe I’ll fit in some blog posts about it too!

Again, to me, making resolutions is about acknowledging areas in which I can improve upon and making the conscious effort to work toward those things. It’s self-awareness. Even some amount of effort or small success is worth it. I’m not setting out thinking I will accomplish all these things, because I probably won’t. But I will try! That’s the promise I’m making myself. Wish me luck. We shall see!

The Truth About Marriage Is

The other day, my bestie who is engaged showed me an article she came across called “5 ways to secure your happyish ever after.” I found it refreshing and it slapped me in the face a bit. Here’s why. This line: “Invest in your marriage, not your wedding.”

Wow. I mean, it’s common sense, but why on earth did I not apply that thought to my own wedding?! Before we were engaged, we both had debt, but that sure didn’t stop me from overspending on my wedding. I used the logic, ‘It’s the biggest day of my life’ as an excuse to buy every little thing that struck my fancy. I also wanted to have lots of small personal touches that I thought would make my wedding stand apart. But now that that day is gone, did it really matter that I had personalized napkins? No. Even though I bought them on sale, no one would have been upset with me if I didn’t have them. Because napkins aren’t what makes a wedding awesome. It’s the people who are committing their lives to each other.

It’s hard to realize that every little expense adds up really quickly, and impulse purchases did me in. I’m now literally paying the price of my frivolous spending when it came to my wedding. And I HATE myself some days when I realize that the money I’m using to pay off my credit cards with ridiculous interest could have all been going toward a down payment on a house or a new car for my husband who badly needs a more reliable vehicle. It could have started a savings account for our future children. It could have been used wisely. Instead I’m throwing hundreds, more likely thousands, of dollars into paying off my wedding and other purchases that I really didn’t need to make. But there’s no use in dwelling in the past, and the best thing is to move forward and make better decisions from now on. Which I am trying really hard to do. Changing bad habits is really friggin’ tough. If I can curb unnecessary spending, I’m going to be setting better examples for any future children and set up a better foundation for our marriage and lives together. Not to mention cause less stress for both of us!

This article had some other really solid points, like this one: “The truth is that cleaning up socks and trying to get someone to really listen to you IS marriage. It’s less sweep you off your feet and more sweep the kitchen four times a day.”

The point is that marriage is most of the time not glamorous. It’s work. Hard work.

When I got engaged, I thought to myself often, ‘I got this. I’m going to be an awesome wife. It won’t be hard. Nothing’s going to change.’ Wrong. I thought that just because Cal and I had dated for eight years that I knew everything there was to being married because it wouldn’t be different than dating. But it is! It so is!

That’s the one thing that has surprised me the most about being married. It is very different from dating or even being engaged. Because it’s so much more serious now. It’s locked in. I gave my commitment that I am going to be with this person for the rest of my life, and we have to make it work. I mean, if we want to have a happy and healthy relationship anyway. We have to combine two totally separate lives into one. We have to make decisions together. We have to manage money and the household together. Not to mention potentially raise children together! That one is terrifying. But that’s another blog post in itself.

I think that it’s incredibly hard to be a good wife and live up to the expectations I thought I had about marriage. I often compare myself to others. I think that other couples have no issues. I think that I should be more like so-and-so. Or even worse, I put unfair standards on my husband. ‘I wish he were more like so-and-so.’ But that is toxic thinking. He is not anyone else but himself, and I am myself. I married him and I accepted everything about who he is by doing so. Sometimes when I hear stories about husbands who do X for their wife (start their car in the morning, rub their feet every night, buy them unexpected gifts and shower them with kisses 24/7, whatever it is), I get jealous. But it is so unfair to put that kind of unspoken pressure on someone. I need to focus less on what my husband doesn’t do and instead on the things he DOES do. It’s not like he does nothing for me. He does so much! And I need to be more grateful of that.

As humans, we’re naturally selfish. Seeing the big picture is hard. Especially for people like me who tend to overanalyze everything. But we all have self doubt, jealousy and strange emotions that make us human. Reminding yourself of that and taking the time to realize that, then fix bad behaviors, is important. And that’s what makes us good wives and husbands, I think. Remembering to accept each other as is and work together to deal with life, to be a team and have a happy and healthy relationship.

I also read an article that a friend shared on Facebook about how Brad Pitt even considered divorcing Angie when times got tough. But instead of throwing in the towel, he tried. Putting our own needs aside to help our spouse can be hard too, because often we get so wrapped up in our own individual lives that we forget there’s another person we need to consider. That makes me respect their marriage much more, though it’s hard to compare to a Hollywood A-list couple. But the lesson is universal: Be considerate, be there and TRY.

I’m sure that I’m going to learn so much more down the road about marriage, relationships and life, but if our foundation can stay solid, we’ll make it through whatever comes our way. To stay solid though, we have to keep making that effort. I think that’s most important.

What lessons have you learned about love? Any surprises? Advice?

2013: What a Year!

Seriously. WHAT A YEAR. 2013 was crazy. It was without a doubt, the busiest, biggest year for me, probably ever. So far anyway.

To start with, I got married, had amazing bridal showers and a bach party, honeymooned in ‘Nawlins, had a second reception in my hometown in Indiana, and did all sorts of exhausting yet fulfilling tasks the whole way, from changing my name (post coming soon just about that process!) to planning the whole darn thing.

Thumbs up for my bridal showers

Thumbs up for my bridal showers

I got married! Whee!

I got married! Whee!

Honeymoonin' 'Nawlins style

Honeymoonin’ ‘Nawlins style

And that was just the wedding-related stuff! Yes, there’s more! Much more!

I also changed jobs. Twice. In a year. While I don’t like job-hopping, it really was all for the best. In March I left a job that I loved but had been at for many years, and for various reasons, I needed to leave. I took another job doing social media for about 7 months, where I learned so many cool new skill sets and had tons of fun going to free concerts, but my heart was longing to be a writer again, and so just before Thanksgiving, I started as an Internet Copywriter and Proofreader at a vitamin and health food company. Which I LOVE by the way. I really think this is where I was meant to end up, and I hope to be here for many moons to come.

Outside of the full-time work, I also took on freelance blog writing for a local custom dog products company, which gave me so much fulfillment in those months doing social media when I just had to be writing more. But even though I do that for work now again, I love it too and have no plans to give it up. (Shameless plug: Read my blogs here if you so wish!)

Oh, and you know, I also started THIS BLOG! Best decision ever!

My Ups (Besides getting married and starting new jobs, of course!)

-I became a bridesmaid for my bestie in Fargo who got proposed to in an epic way (flash mob in the park!), and we’re now planning her wedding and shower, which is so much more fun than planning your own wedding, dontchaknow.

-I became an official aunt to four nieces, one nephew, and now one more on the way! I also gained some new sibs, which is totes cool since I’m an only.

My new family! Photo courtesy Lori Anne Photography.

My new family! Photo courtesy Lori Anne Photography.

-We vacationed several times. In February, we celebrated our 8-year dating anniversary with a trip to St. Cloud and dined so much we waddled around uncomfortably full but so happy. In August, we met another couple at a campground for a weekend retreat of grilling, beach time, campfire hanging and general laziness. In September, we visited friends who had just moved to Canada and had a housewarming/board game playing/eating lots of food party. And in October, we went to our first professional sports game and saw the Vikings play the Panthers.

-Book club continued and we gained one new member. In all, I think we read four books this year (hey, don’t judge, we’re all busy people) — Malala, Gone Girl, Lean In, and the Snow Child.

-We combined car insurance and saved so much money!

-I couponed much more, watched sales more, started using money-saving apps like Cartwheel and ShopKick, made weekly meal plans, donated old stuff and decluttered the house. That makes me feel like such a good wife.

-I was interviewed in the paper about my extreme phobia of needles.

My Downs

I wrecked my car. Three times, technically, according to my insurance claims, though none were my fault! The first time was right when I started my first new job, and we had a big blizzard the day before, so roads were awful. I slid and my brakes locked up as I came up on the car in front of me at a stop sign, so rather than hit them, I turned into the snow drift, which turned out to be more of an ice cap than soft stop that dented Leslie good (yes, I name my car! Leslie the Legacy – she’s a champ). Then a month later, the day before my bridal shower, some jerkwad plowed into me going around a corner because he was too busy texting to look and see me coming and caused almost $5,000 worth of damage! Thank God I had good insurance, though I still had to pay my deductible and over a week’s worth of car rentals because said jerkwad didn’t have his own insurance (grumble grumble). Then lastly, on the interstate a semi truck in front of me kicked up a nice-sized rock, which hit my windshield, cracking it and nearly giving me a heart attack. Again, thank God for insurance because that time I didn’t have to pay a dime. Progressive, I am so thankful for you this year.

Leslie got a little beat up this year, poor girl.

Leslie got a little beat up this year, poor girl.

My Firsts

-With my upcoming wedding as an excuse, I treated myself to some new beauty treatments for the first time. I got my first brow wax, facial and professional dermabrasion. The facial was relaxing and amazing. The microdermabrasion was kind of terrifying. It was like one of those rollerball perfumes where the ball was sandpaper and was rigorously pushed into and around my face like a jackhammer. Ouch.

-I did one of those restaurant tours, both of which were themed around bacon, so I ate some amazing baconified dishes around town with my foodie friend.

Baco, aka taco with a bacon shell

Baco, aka taco with a bacon shell

Maple bacon cupcake

Maple bacon cupcake

-I went to the county fair in Fargo for the first time and saw another free concert (Hinder, which was just like listening to them on the radio. meh!) and ate so much fried food on a stick.

Fried mac and cheese.

Fried mac and cheese.

Deep fried banana with sugar and caramel. The highlight of the fair, for sure.

Deep fried banana with sugar and caramel. The highlight of the fair, for sure.

-We started our home search and took a homebuyer’s education course, met with a realtor and looked at two houses.

-I joined a professional group that meets now and then to talk ab0ut our trade. I went to a few Meetups so far and find it so inspiring and helpful, and it makes me feel grown up and connected.

-I took control of our finances and made a real financial plan to tackle our debt and save for that first house. Thanks to Amberly for the inspiration! Blog post about this coming soon too. What a process, but so worthwhile. Wish I had done it sooner.

-I became more conscious of my style and finally took to heart that looking good makes you feel good, so I try harder now at having a nice appearance. This included buying into some trends and purchasing my first fashion scarf (cat print, of course), cool yet practical boots and skinny pants. Having a friend that’s a Lia Sophia advisor helps a lot too since I get awesome jewelries from her.

New Fave Things I Discovered

-Belvita dunked in coffee. I had been eating Belvitas for awhile, but one time this year I dunked it in my coffee on a whim, and my world changed. It’s been my breakfast at least three times a week now ever since.

-Quinoa. How had I missed out on this for so long? I think I thought it was “hipster” or “healthy” so never bothered, but now with my new job that’s made me more health-conscious, I gave it a whirl, and it is just so amazing.

-HGTV. Again, how did I missed out on this so long?! I’ve never been inclined to tune to this channel before, but once we started talking about getting a house, I thought what the heck and recorded some House Hunters and My First Home. I was hooked. Apparantly my husband is too because he discovered Property Brothers just recently and we watched about five episodes of that in a row.

Things I Learned

-It’s important to be open and honest with your feelings to those you love. When you hold back, all it does is enforce poor communication and unclear expectations. I learned this during wedding planning, my wedding itself, and many times after. It’s something I have to try hard at, but I’ve found it makes a world of difference and makes you closer to those you love and enforces bonds.

-I don’t like tea. I have been trying to like tea for awhile now, and gave it another shot very recently, but I find myself choking it down every time. The bigger moral of the story is it’s OK to admit something isn’t working. Give up and move on so you can focus energy on the more important things. This means I need to bring my new box of tea to a friend who does sincerely like it. Present coming your way, Jenna!

Wrap Up

Again, what a year. I have no clue how I made it through. I’ve never felt so busy in my whole life. But, I did it, and that makes me feel good. I can tackle anything now, right? We’ll see, because I have some lofty resolutions for 2014, which I shall reveal soon!

Wedding Day Confessions and Regrets

(Sorry, really long post ahead)

Just yesterday I read this amazing and honest blog post from The Florkens about how she did not enjoy her wedding. In short, she enjoyed PARTS of her wedding, but was frustrated, stressed and disappointed looking back on it as a whole. (Read the whole post here.) I can’t blame her. She had some major mishaps.

The post really resonated with me, and I so appreciated her openness. Because honestly, I’m not 100% sure I did either. Now, hear me out. Overall, I think I am far happier with my own day than she was hers, but I definitely have lots of regrets. I often wish I had a time machine to go back and redo that day, and many days leading up to it, but then again, I do believe that you have to live and learn. A wedding is something you’ll probably only have one of, so I do feel a little sad that I can’t redo it like I could a birthday party or something. But, we can’t live a life full of regrets. So I try to move on and accept that in the end, the important part of that day, and its entire purpose in the first place, was to marry the man I love. I may not be able to redo it personally, but I can share some of the lessons I learned with bloggy land, and my best friend who is currently planning her own wedding. I’m inundating her with tons of advice, and maybe it’s too much, but she hasn’t told me to back off yet, and seems to want to hear it, so I keep giving it. I figure that hopefully she can learn from my mistakes anyway.

But then again, even if someone had told me everything that I’m telling her, I don’t know how much of it I would actually would have taken. It’s one of those things where you have to learn it on your own. You have to do it your own way, hope for the best, and deal with whatever comes up.

Just some of my lessons learned/reflections from/thoughts/regrets are:

-Not having a photo booth. I don’t have nearly as many photos of my guests as I’d like, and now I’m having a hard time remembering who was there for what parts.

-Investing so much in so much. I intended to have my entire wedding for under $10k. I know I went over that, but I purposely haven’t calculated how far over I went because I’m afraid to find out how bad it was. Instead of outlining and sticking to every expense within a budget, I just haphazardly bought things I liked whenever I found them. “Oh, this ribbon is cute. I’ll buy it. Hopefully I can use it somewhere.” I didn’t. That scenario happened a lot.

I also spent a lot on my bridesmaids gifts. Probably too much. I really wanted each girl to feel super special and to know how much she meant to me, so I showered them with stuff. No, not like all-expense paid trips to Hawaii or anything, but a lot for me and my budget. I bought personalized tote bags (which alone were my entire budget for their gifts), but instead of stopping there, I filled the tote. They each got a pair of flipflops, a necklace and earring set, a DIY survival kit that included items like sewing kits, gum, mints, chocolate, hair spray, body spray, nail files, nail polish, eyeshadows, combs, safety pins, bobby pins, and even more stuff that I just can’t remember, plus my maid of honor and matron of honor also got personalized compacts. They loved their gifts, which warmed my heart and made me think it was all worth it. But, now I’m questioning if it was. Because it made me max out my credit cards (yes, plural cards), I’m far in debt and ruined my credit score and chances of getting a house as soon as I wanted. So while I’m glad I got them so much stuff and they loved it, was it really worth it? Cal got his groomsmen engraved beer steins. That’s it. He spent on those what I spent on the tote bags alone. And they loved them just as much as my girls loved their stuff. So, was it quantity or the thought that counted? I’m torn on that one. Mostly because right now I hate how irresponsible I was with my money. I spent a lot that I did not have.

But it wasn’t just on our wedding party gifts. I overspent in every area that wasn’t big. See, I rationalized it by thinking I could get more little stuff because I got really good deals on the big stuff. My photographer was a good friend who gave me an incredible rate. My caterer also shaved off some of the price just because he was 5 minutes late to our consultation. My dress was from David’s Bridal and my budget was $1,000, but my actual dress was only $650. Win! I ordered nice but fake flowers on Etsy instead of using real flowers. So since I saved in those areas, I could spend a little extra elsewhere, right? Yeah, if I didn’t go overboard. But I did. I bought pretty much everything brand-new when I could have rented or bought used. I didn’t coupon and watch sales nearly as much as I should have. UGH. I am literally still paying the price for those decisions.

-I was too worried about everyone else having a good time that I didn’t allow myself to. By the reception, I caved, and man did it feel good. After the meal, I just sat at our empty table for a long time, acting like I was picking at my food so no one would think I was being anti-social, but really, that was my time to breathe. I tried to look kind of busy, but I really just needed to sit and not talk to anyone. I had been talking and smiling and hugging all day.

-During photos, we were a little rushed on time (not as much as the Florkens – they had only 20 minutes!). We did all the posed shots with family members first so that they could leave and have a small break before the reception, but I truly regret that now. Because I don’t have nearly as many photos as I’d like of the wedding party, and mostly, of Cal and myself. We have some, but I wanted tons. I really really want so many more of just us. Too late now. We had to end before I felt done so we could stay on schedule. I should have put my foot down and demanded we finish, because in that moment I knew we didn’t have everything I wanted, but everyone else was eager to leave, so I wanted to make them shut up happy. Was it their wedding day? No, it was ours. But I lost sight of that.

-I didn’t stalk my husband during the reception dancing. After my much-needed moment alone “poking at my food,” I really wanted to spend lots of time dancing with and talking to Cal. But, he ran off to the upstairs hotel bar, and was outside with his family probably about half of the entire reception. I was not happy about it, but instead of going to get him, I just complained about it and danced with my girls. Which I enjoyed too, but I really wanted my new husband! Where was he?!?! Someone grabbed him for the crucial moments like the cake cutting, garter toss and first dance, but those aside, I barely saw him. I knew he wanted time to catch up with his family and relax too, but he missed a lot of moments inside where I was. Some of the songs he had requested and that we were looking forward to he completely missed. I should have hunted him down and told him he will NOT leave me again. I had envisioned us spending that entire evening side by side, but I never really conveyed that to him. After my table moment alone, I went back to caring about everyone else but myself and let him do what he wanted. Maybe I should have joined him, but I didn’t want to leave the people that were still in the ballroom. What would they have thought if neither of us were there? But who cares? It was OUR day. The one day we had full right to do whatever we wanted. But I didn’t capitalize on that. Sighs.

-I wasn’t in the moment. I didn’t take time outs to just sit and breathe. It started like right away, too. My makeup took longer than I had planned for, so I had to ditch my mom and leave right away to rush to the other salon to get my hair done. Which made me feel really frantic. During my hair, I was delivered an Edible Arrangement from my friends who weren’t able to make it that day, and while I ate it, that’s the last moment I remember feeling any kind of calm. As soon as I finished it, I started freaking out that my videographers weren’t at the salon yet, and they were supposed to be filming me getting my hair did. Then, afterward, I ran to the hotel/reception site to drop off my overnight bag and pick up a bridesmaid so we could drive to the ceremony together. We were behind, but still needed to eat, so ran to get some fast food, and I sped on the interstate to make it to the ceremony site and finish getting ready. That is when the day really starts getting fuzzy. It may have been an entire hour, I really don’t know, but I swear, it felt like not even 5 minutes. I felt more frantic than I ever had in my life. At one point, I was trying to put my shoes on, and I was falling over, and I was yelling for help, but my girls were running around panicking just as much as I was (I think?) and I got upset that no one was helping me, even though I know they had to get ready too. When Cal’s sister was putting my necklace on, I remember feeling so overwhelmed that I was making this awful face that actually made it onto the video. Then, my mom never showed up to our dressing room. She was nowhere in sight. I hadn’t seen her since like 9 am at the makeup place. I had her corsage and was upset she wasn’t there. Granted I had never told her to be there, but I assumed she would be. So I made a bridesmaid literally run across the museum grounds to hunt her down so she could wear her corsage. I was actually really upset she wasn’t with me getting ready. Again, I had always envisioned she’d be there, but never told her to be. The next time I saw her was in the church as I walked in to Halo, my version of Here Comes the Bride.

I don’t remember much of the ceremony either. I know stuff happened, but the thing that stands out the most was Cal’s pocket square was crooked, and I kept staring at it. I think I actually tried to fix it while we were standing up there. I don’t recall the vows much if at all, and I have no clue what message the pastor gave. Something about cats was in there and that we met at Perkin’s to discuss the ceremony earlier. That’s seriously all I remember. Then all of a sudden we were skipping down the aisle, and next thing I know, I’m hugging 130 people in the receiving line and we’re walking through bubbles. Then photos, which were rushed, and the groomsmen were complaining about everything, which made me furious, but I let it go. In the party bus to the reception, I remember a little more, probably because I was forced to sit down. But I was worrying about the reception and how we’d do the grand entrance, wondering if everything was decorated properly, if the food was there yet, etc.

So in short, I was rushed, stressed, overwhelmed, worried and tired. And I should have not worried about anything that day. Who cares if the ceremony started a little late? It would have been worth it to take 5 minutes to just sit and savor the moment while we got ready. I had intended on finding a moment before the reception to just sit alone with Cal, but that never happened because we were rushing to coordinate the grand entrance.

Anyone else out there reading this who has yet to get married, I hope you can learn from my mistakes. I know I have even more regrets than I listed here, but I have to stop writing this novel sometime. If you are already married, what lessons did you learn? What would you do differently?

Welcome!

I’m so excited for my very first blog post! It only seemed fitting that my first post should be about this whole blog thing and what brought me to start one.

First of all, I’m a newlywed. I was married in June 2013 (see more about my wedding here), and throughout my engagement and now about 5 months of being married, one day it just suddenly hit me that I’ve leaned a lot throughout this whole process. I think I’ve grown more in the past year than I ever have … so far anyway.

If I could go back in time, I would do several things very differently. I made some mistakes along the way, but I took so much away from it all. I could probably write an entire book about the wedding planning process with many, many lists and tips. So, throughout this blog, I will share some of the lessons I’ve learned. Some are big, like stick to the budget and communicate better; some are small, like allow extra time for photographs of just you as a couple, and do not use a cinnamon Wisp toothbrush right before you walk down the aisle, because it WILL turn your mouth an awful shade of red.

But, we made it, and in the end, I’m incredibly happy that I married the man I love. That was the most important thing. But now that I’m a few months into being married, oh boy, the learning just keeps coming.

The first thing to note is that my husband and I dated for 8 years before we were married. Eight! And while I thought that was a long time, and I thought that I knew everything about him and about us, turns out I didn’t. I thought right off the bat I’d be an awesome wife. I also thought while some things may change, for the most part, everything would feel completely the same as before. Wrong again.

Now, as husband and wife, we have to communicate better and more, and suddenly everything is so important! We’re not just dating anymore; we’re locked into this thing for life! And I want to do it all right, but part of that is accepting that at times, I’ll screw up, and so will he, but along the way, we will learn a ton, pick ourselves up and keep on keepin’ on.

So this is the crazy journey of my new life as a wife. Enjoy!