To the Brides to be . . .

As we come down to the last few days before my brothers wedding (sorry if you are getting tired of hearing about this-I’ll be done on this topic soon). I think back to my wedding day which was-honestly a blur. There are moments that stand out in my mind good, stressful, and bad but let’s just say I’m grateful we had it all video taped because I could use a reminder of the play by play beyond what I planned for.

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But one thing I do know is that a lot of pressure is put on this one day, that one moment, this one event that when you get finally get there-it’s a little difficult to know how to feel, how to move forward or what to do. Many bridal magazine will try to tell you how “to look and feel your best” the day of your wedding . But this advice is usually superficial at best: detox tea, face masks, deep breathing exercises etc. only work so well. So I thought I would write a little realistic advice to the brides to be out there for their wedding days.

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Pause, breathe, and take it in-no need to rush!!

There will  be a lot of activity the day of your wedding people decorating the space, the caterers delivering food, or the cake people doing the same, florists, set up of tables and decorations. Then there is also all of the family, and wedding party with their different duties and assignments. Not only that, but every one will want to talk, see, or visit with you while you are being pushed and pulled by those doing your makeup and hair

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With everyone so busy around you, it’s easy to get caught up in the anxious rushed high. But you do not have to worry about a detail-that (hopefully) has already been delegated to those who love you and have volunteered to help.You need to pause, breathe, and take it in. The wedding can’t start without you (and everyone expects it to start a little late anyways).

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For example,  I had met with my florist only once and since I have a green thumb, the flowers and table decorations were very important to me. I was couped up in the bridal room for hours so Luke wouldn’t see me. When it was finally time for me to leave the room  I wanted so badly to look at the tables, knowing that by the time I would see them again I would  be busy at the reception and it would be dark. The assistant wedding coordinator told me to take a moment to take it in -it was a necessary  to breath and relax before heading down the aisle.

Recognize significant moments and take them in fully

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We all know those moment you want to remember from your wedding day (maybe it is all of them) but the reality is most of it will be a blur. And yes, all of the moments of this day are significant but which of them will be captured in a picture or on the video that you can look back on -and which ones will not?

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For me : these moments are when my dad first saw me in my dress, or when my grandmothers joined the bridal room. Some of these moments are unplanned, such as getting colored drawings from our younger guests, or a passing piece of advice from a friend or relative, a laugh, a glance at your new husband. Things only you can capture and remember.

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Focus on the positive and the big picture. 

As much as you are the one planning through every detail you cannot control it all. You are yourself and are working with humans– it may not all go exactly as you had planned (sorry to be so honest) but it will all be wonderful and beautiful.

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I am a detail oriented with a type A personality. So to give control of so much of “my day” to those around me in hopes it will all go well is difficult-but I had not choice. Of course there are things you cannot predict. For example, there was a miscommunication about one of the groomsmen suits. So a couple from Luke’s side of the family drove quickly back into town to pick it up and back to the wedding right in time. ( I didn’t hear about any of this until Luke and I were driving away that night). Also I could not predict that my dress’ bustle would keep falling out as people stepped on my dress in the tight reception space.  It may not all happen how you want, but if you focus on the positive and the big picture you’ll realize it is amazing.

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Take a quiet moment to yourself

As I mentioned in my first point, you will be surrounded by many people from the moment you get up until you are alone with your husband in the car leaving for the honeymoon. If you are anything like me and even the slight bit of an introvert, a few seconds of quiet time to yourself to take in the day is important. This may mean taking a few minutes to meditate, journal, pray, listen to some music,or go on a short walk before getting going that morning.

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For me, after everyone was seated for the ceremony, and my bridesmaids sent out for the processional, I was left alone. I got a few precious moments in the bridal room to myself. There I was able to pray, look myself in the mirror and take it all in before greeting everyone else.

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Get a calm or relaxing moment with your bridesmaids and/or female friends before the wedding

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Much like the last point, it may be equally important if you are an extrovert to take a few minute to have a calm moment with you female relatives and friends before the wedding. This may be a toast, and encouragement. It could be a time to pray together or just a moment of silence. Or it could be a chance to exchange gifts.

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My wonderful bridesmaids set up time for an informal toast where grandmothers, mothers, friends, cousins, and bridesmaids all gathered and shared encouragement and congratulations. After most of my family had left the bridal room I gathered with my bridesmaids, mother, our pastor, and soon to be mother-in-law to pray for and over the day. This helped calm all of our nerves and help us focus no longer on getting ready but being ready.

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Celebrate

Once the formalness of the wedding ceremony (and pictures) are over remember to switch modes and celebrate. When the reception comes, yes there are still traditional events happening but this is a celebration time. Be yourself, laugh, joke, talk with friends, dance, and enjoy and be in the moment.

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side note: make sure you have talked through the reception pacing with your MC/DJ. It is important that your MC/DJ knows how to space out the events at your reception. You may want to get all the traditional cake cutting, bouquet toss, toasts etc. over with right away so you can enjoy the dancing and food. Or you may want to space things out, get breaks in between so you can greet people, eat, rest, (or go to the bathroom).

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I was under the assumption, since the MC/DJ was hired by the venue, that he would know and keep a moderate pace for all of the reception events. I figured he would take some time for dancing and socializing between the cake cutting and bouquet toss etc. Instead I was asked at the reception what I wanted to do!!  Unprepared to make any type of decision at my wedding I have no idea what to answer. So all reception events happened quickly in a row-so fast few knew they were happening to enjoy them or take pictures. Then a large amount of time was given at the end for dancing. Because it was dark, and getting cold, people began to leave early since all main events were over. This gave me limited time to see everyone as well as it left a very limited grouping to enjoy the dance floor.

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Remember: at the end of the day no matter how all the pieces, details, and events unfold you are leaving your wedding and starting a life with your new husband.

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Yes that big day  is important, but the decision and promises you’ve made on that day will mark the days to come which will be even more significant. If you keep that in mind,  focusing on the purpose of the day and your future spouse, your wedding day will be a positive blur and one you know is only the beginning.  .  .

“Happily Ever After” is only the Beginning

All the movies make it seem as though that walk or drive off into the sunset with the love of your life is the end no more conflict, no more challenges, no more changes.

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But Happily ever after is only the beginning

You relationship is not complete when you get married. You don’t stop working on it after marriage you are only really beginning. With all the awkward superficial barriers worked through during dating, you begin to hit at deeper bigger issues. These issues can come on with the smallest of topics. But if you take the opportunity to openly and honestly talk about them you will find yourself work through things that are much deeper. When you work out issues in an frank yet loving way you learn a lot about yourself, a lot of about your spouse, a lot about what “you” as a couple looks like.

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The first two months of marriage included a lot of talking. . . and I mean a lot. These talks came up at the most unlikely and most annoying of times too. Every time we didn’t agree or were confused by what each other meant or expected we took the time to work it out. It wasn’t easy but we wanted resolution, we wanted to understand each other. There was a lot of questions for clarification: What did you think I meant? What do you want me to do ? What do you think I expect you to do?  I found that you may finish each others sentence when you’re dating but it doesn’t mean once you’re married you will be able to read each other’s minds.

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Another title for this could also be: new is new is new is new .  . .

This is just the beginning to married life. Any new element is exactly that a new element. So any new topic or area of life not present before marriage is not magically resolved out of your love. Whether it is deciding on when/where it is ok to flirt with each other (or let it lead to more), what to eat for the week, who does what chores around the house, the budget, outings, etc.. If it is a new decision it requires talking it out-it requires work.

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Remember back when you felt unsure how the person you were dating was going to take your opinion on an issue? Or you were unsure how to bring a new difficult topic up? But in time you develop trust and with it comes honesty, patience for each other, and grace to see eye-to-eye on things. Well that doesn’t change. You will still have those awkward and difficult conversations for anything that is a new element to your relationship.

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New elements to your relationship require effort and compromise to make new decisions. It doesn’t happen through osmosis when you put rings on each other’s fingers. It comes through loving each other enough to want to work it through.  Don’t out of fear of being vulnerable keep your mouth shut when things bother you. But don’t go overboard either. You do not have always instigate a debate-the talks and challenges will come up on their own.

It doesn’t happen over night.  Six (almost seven) months married life is a lot easier than one month. The more we invest in each other the more we see growth,stability and we find ourselves deeper in love . Trust me it’s true! Marriage does not grow like weeds. It grows like trees-change sometimes is subtle but time and consistent investment can make it grow stronger. And if you think you’ve been through a lot as a couple before you get married just wait until  you watch the other person step-up to the responsibilities as husband or wife. You will love and respect them even more.

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I do not claim to have this figured out-we are still working through a lot of topics and issues. But I know that going into the first few months being willing to ask the hard questions knowing you are safe to be vulnerable (that the commitment you made to each other is enough) makes all the difference. You have to know that the other person loves you and will show you forgiveness. That they (and you) will be willing to say your sorry, mean it, and move on. There is a lot of adjusting to do and it requires compromise, patience, and grace.

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A story definition of self-judgement

A few weeks ago I had one of those days that sent me into a stressed, frustrated fit.

Luke and I had taken time to relax most of the weekend and now it was time to get some business done.

Unfortunately nothing seemed to go right. We both had our independent  “tasks” to accomplish. But due-to elements I have no control over I ended up needing Luke’s help on my “independent” tasks and he needed my help for his.

Also, I am one of those “work first play later” types. I’d rather get work done during the day so there is time to relax in the evening.

But at 10pm I was still doing prep-work for the coming week and Luke was working on banking paperwork. At this point my tolerance for what was out of my control disappeared. When I saw the clock I got angry. Thinking about what was still left  to do, my hope for a few minutes to relax before going to sleep was gone.

It took me a long time (and some help from Luke) before I calmed down. When I did I recognize  I was mostly upset with myself.   It did not matter that the pattern of how events occurred during day were out of my control-I somehow still found a way to accuse myself for the day’s problems. I felt as though I had failed.

Why? Because that is what I do: I judge myself. I determine my worth and evaluate my success by my own internal and flawed standards. And once this introvert succumbs to those feelings of failure/inadequacy all self-confidence deflates. I find myself paralyzed; kicking myself while I am down. I point a finger and ask “how could you?” or “you should know better” or “you should have/could have done better”.

This is just one story definition of how self-judgment prevents me from having a proper perspective of myself and events around me. I find myself feeling the need to apologize for what is not my fault. Then it takes conscious effort to recognize it is not my fault, that the day was a success, and that my self-worth is not based in my accomplishments/or lack there-of.

Like I said before, I am my harshest critic.

Are you seeing a better picture of why it is important for me to become judgment-free?

Do you also suffer from put-yourself-down-itis?

Becoming Mrs. ______________

It is interesting, in American culture, once a woman becomes engaged it is all about preparing for a wedding.

It is only after you get married the government asks: “are you sure?  . . . is this relationship worth the red-tape?”.

I don’t question the decision to get married. But the weight of what I consider to be a permanent legal change did not hit until I had to fill out piles of government paperwork. (I even learned to bring a personal profile of all my legal documents with me places to show proof of my name change.)

For those of you who are/will be engaged soon, let me give you a heads up on the legal stuff required after you get married to become Mrs. ___________:

1.  Your officiant has to sign and deliver the marriage certificate to the country clerk within 10 days after the wedding. Then you can file for copies which includes having your paperwork notarized. Once you pay the fee and mail off the paperwork you wait.

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2. Eventually you receive copies (more than one is helpful) of your marriage certificate. You can then file to change your last name with Social Security. This  requires another form, another fee, copy of your marriage certificate, and your passport/birth certificate. Then you wait again.

3. When your new social card comes you can go to the DMV! At the DMV you need your social, copy of marriage cert., your license, and of course the name changing forms. You take a new photo, pay another fee, and wait.

4. When you will get your new driver’s license  you can apply for a new passport! For this you need copy of your marriage cert., your old passport, new passport photos, the name changing forms, and another fee.

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So yes becoming Mrs. __________ on Facebook is the easiest thing you will do.

You don’t know how many times I became confused as to when to write/sign my maiden name and when to write/sign my married name. (Let’s just say I had to fill out some forms more than once.)

For any women the journey of adjusting to a new personal identity, becoming  Mrs. _________ is greater than the legal name-changing saga. Every piece of paperwork in the name-changing process or new piece of mail addressed to a Mrs. ________ is a reminder of a permanent change in social and lifestyle status. After four months of marriage I am still asking myself: who is Mrs. Amanda Greene ? What is or will be different about my identity or roles as Mrs. Greene over when I was Ms. Halvorson?

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Although my name changing process is finally over my  journey to become Mrs. Greene, to adjust to the meaning behind the name-change, has just begun.

For those recently married: any thoughts to share on adjusting to new roles/identity?

Any other newlyweds find it takes awhile for the name-change to sink in?

Marriage Myth-Busting Round 2

I told you there was more where Dispelling Marriage Myths blog came from.

3. After marriage your image of your body can still be distorted by the media .

The truth is, I was highly motivated to loose weight when I thought of all the life-long pictures associated with marriage. So I worked hard and off came the stress weight of three jobs and my MA degree.

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But then I went on a honeymoon, moved, and the holidays hit. (If you need an update see  Part 3 update: life in 2012 blog).

In addition to this, I’ve been learning to cook for someone who needs about 1,000 calories more than me a day. So of course I’ve gained weight. (I’m enjoying zumba at the Y and getting back on track-but that’s another blog).

Staying healthy is a constant struggle but it’s even harder to believe that you are a beautiful/handsome individual. The media will make you think, that once you have someone in your life who will always tell/show you that you are beautiful/handsome that you will never doubt your physical attractiveness again.

Sorry, not true.

You may have one very important voice in your life reminding you of the wonderful being that you are, but if  you watch TV at all you’re going to begin to doubt it.

I don’t know about you, but I do not have a personal trainer, diet coach, makeup artist, or hairstylist.

I also don’t have the lifestyle required to be as the media would consider “beautiful”.

Think about it: their lives are not glamorous-they are torture. Who wants to have their lives micromanaged? Not me. I’d like to know that it’s my choice whether to have pizza, a salad, dessert,  another drink or a drink at all! I’d like to know I can run my errands in peace without wondering how they can be twisted into a soap opera for moms to browse at the grocery store checkout stand. I like being able to say what is on my heart and mind without my agent wondering how it’s going to effect movie offers.

Still this lifestyle is what the media-world considers a requirement to be deemed physically attractive. Unless I live without any exposure to TV,  smart phones, or a computer with internet, marriage will not change the influence media has on my body image.

No matter how often your spouse compliments you, it will never be enough to prevent the on-slaught of the media-world saying you’ll never be “_________ enough” (fill in the blank: strong, skinny, tall, toned, etc.).

The truth is our physical attractiveness is in our personal physical uniqueness, in the genetic combination of physical attributes that represent our ethnicity and family background. Weight (or any other specific physical “flaw” you obsess over) is not what measures or defines you as beautiful/ handsome.

What you are thinking about when you watch TV or look at magazines?

What are your thoughts about the character’s/actor’s physique /style vs. your own?

Believe it or not,  your mind does not shut off when the TV turns on.

And just so you know that I am not pointing fingers, I am sharing this all from personal experience. If this speaks true to you at all: it is because I does for me too.

Judgement-Free Living: An Introduction

My subtitle for the category: Transcend, is: learning what it’s like to live nut-free, barley-free, and judgment free.

To transcend as my Transcend page states is:

a : to rise above or go beyond the limits of

b : to triumph over the negative or restrictive aspects of overcome

So far I have provided some yummy examples of how I choose to transcend my barley allergy. In the future I will do the same with my tree nut allergy. But I thought it was time that I explain what I meant by learning to transcend judgment, or how I plan to become judgment-free.

This is a very honest and at times vulnerable portion of my blogging, which I hope, may be encouraging to others.

I over the years have learned (for the most part) to not judge others. I humbly recognize that is not my place or role. By doing so I have opened myself up to the freedom to love, forgive, and show patience and grace to others. What I have yet to explore is how to attain the same freedom for myself.

It is true what they say that we are our own worst enemy and our harshest critic. (To be clear I’m not sure who they is. The reason I mention this is because a good friend and ex-roommate of mine always asked that question: who is they?)

Displaying patience or any of those other qualities to other people is one thing; showing them to yourself: well .  . . that is another.

This is just an introduction I will in the future delve deeper into what this portion of the transcend journey looks like. I plan to do this (as you may have guessed) through addressing ways I am learning to find freedom to attain the qualities of love, forgiveness, patience, and grace for myself.

Whether you are a self-critic or have “been there done that” I hope you find my stories, experiences, and journey to be compelling and encouraging.

Any initial thoughts on my launch of this portion of the blog?

Any words of encouragement from those whom have “been there done that”?

Overall, I would encourage you to be honest and vulnerable, like I will be-it will always be appreciated!

Dispelling Marriage Myths

Although I like to think of myself as serious minded and realistic, I cannot ignore the fact that media affects me and what I believed about marriage. I know I definitely fit into the category of “newly wed” but there are some media-induced myths about being married that I’d like to dispel.

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1. You can still feel lonely

Although your spouse does “complete you” they are not your  “everything”. Luke is not my co-worker, student, girl-friend, parents, or God. As we are still adjusting to a new area most weeks he is the only person I have a conversation with that does not end in “thank you and have a nice day!” So yes, sometimes it can get lonely. Sometimes I wish our conversations would go deeper than talking about taxes or planning out our meals (and sometimes they do). But I would be abusing his role in my life to treat him like and expect him to be everyone and everything to me.

Can you imagine the pressure I would be putting him under to fulfill more roles than he was meant to? (I’m pretty sure he did not vow to that). He is my husband and that is very important to me, but opposite to what the media portrays, his role in life is not to succumb to my every whim. Although I am less lonely than I was before he was apart of my life, he is not “all I will ever need in the world”.

2. Your personal problems and insecurities don’t go away.

In fact they are highlighted by how you interact with and treat your spouse.  It amazes me that in the most unexpected moments the lies I believe about myself (you know the ones in your head “I am   . . . ” “I have too little/too much” . . . “I will never be” etc.) get in the way of clear communication. I can easily misinterpret an attempt at encouragement to be an expectation on how I need to live my life!  It is true, we make each other better people-but it is exactly that make, it doesn’t happen automatically or easily, it is what we choose to do.

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Because in reality your spouse is a mirror/window into your self. And Yes! sometimes that can be scary. Honestly: if you don’t like facing your problems and insecurities-don’t get married! The positive thing is that you have someone who thoroughly knows you and  has committed to love you who will help you work through those issues.

Well there is more I’m sure where this comes from.

But now it is your turn:

Those that are married-you find this to be true for yourself?

Any stories about relationships you are willing to share?

Any advice for the newly-wed on other myths that need to be busted?