2013 in review

I know we are a little more than a week into the new year but it has taken me a full week to get back into the normal routine of things (I can’t be the only one who’s in the post-holiday struggle for normality). As I look back on almost a full year with this blog I thought I’d review some of the highlighting events of 2013.

So here is a review of 2013 blog style:

January: survived our first NY winter:  A Lesson in Independence and explored our local museum’s winter events: 2300 degrees

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February: Started a new Valentines tradition: Valentine’s Pie: a New Tradition, and explored what it means to be newly married :Dispelling Marriage MythsMarriage Myth busting: Round 2

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March: Celebrate Luke’s birthday with brewery tours/tastings in Rochester: A Chemistry lesson for a birthday present, Shared about my allergy to barley: Why I am barley free: Part One, and celebrated Easter: Hot Cross Buns and Berry Salad

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April: Celebrated 6 months of marriage: Wow it’s been 6 months!, shared details about our wedding:The Dress and  learning how to look for a job: Patience: giving myself time

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May: Traveled to the West Coast for an Oregon vacation and my brother’s college graduation: Vacation Highlights Part 1: Family TimeVacation Highlights Part 2: Date Days

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June: Went Kayaking in Rochester: Kayaking and BBQ, bottled our first homemade barley-free beer:  Bottling our first homemade brew and celebrated my birthday in Ithaca: An Ithaca birthday Adventure

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July: Explored local festivals: Two festivals and Korean BBQ, Fixed up the front porch: Home Improvement: The Front Porch Project, and traveled to Washington to be apart of pre-wedding events for my brother’s wedding : Pre-wedding Jitters

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August:  Particpated in my soon-to-be sister-in-law’s bridal shower: Stina’s bridal shower and other wedding events, attended two local foodie festivals in NY: Smoke on the WaterTaste of Ellicotville, and hiked a local landmark: Walkins Glen State Park= Gorge-ous

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September: Looked back on my brother’s wedding: The Wedding, and shared more about my job-search: A New Year: Teacher without a classroom

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October: Picked pumpkins and attended an Apple Festival: Picking Perfect Pumpkins;  Apple Fest,  shared about my allergy to tree-nuts:Why I am tree-nut free Part one,  and celebrated a year of marriage with a trip to Niagara Falls :Niagara Falls anniversary Part One

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November: Kept busy with non-blogging activities and shared about them in: busy: and update

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December: Started two new holiday traditions: Post-Parade Cookies and Cocoa and Christmas Concert TSO. Attended our local holiday festival: Sparkle and shared our Christmas with my parents: A Very Corning Christmas present and A handmade and heirloom Christmas

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That is one very full blogging year! And that is only a small portion of the blog-post in this past year and doesn’t include any of my recipes. So what can you look forward to reading about this next year? You’ll find out soon enough.

“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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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.

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?