Complacency vs. Contentment: Thankfulness

We have now been living in Corning for a little over a year.  The newness of the Finger Lakes region has started to ware off and to some degree the same could be said about our marriage.  The longer you stay in one place, in one pattern, the easier it is to not see the little things. The route to work with all turns becomes a blur, as do the days. Same can be said about life together in a marriage. Over time it is easy to forget or not even notice the little things as they days start to blur together. When this happens it is easy to become complacent.

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Complacency is settling, possibly unhappily, with the way life is. When life begins to buzz by it’s easier to complain and become grumpy. But instead of doing anything about it, complacency leads us to feel comfortable with the unhappy grumpy us in our mundane routine because it can be controlled.

Contentment instead is a state of satisfaction even if life is not perfect. It focuses on what is going right or well with a sense of thankfulness in and/or during our regular routine. This helps us let go of the pieces we can make us grumpy or irritated but we have no control over and helps the days feel more important, significant, less “blurry”.

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I am learning what it looks like to be content instead of complacent in our routine and current place in marriage. But what does that look like?

Saying thank you, a lot. I don’t have to think or worry about the bills being paid on time, the trash being emptied, the car having gas, or there being money in the checking account so I can buy groceries. Luke just takes care of those things for us. But because I don’t have to worry or think about them means I can forget they are getting done. They can become part of the routined haze unless I saying thank you; a lot: in a text, email, sticky note in a lunch pail or out-loud. If I say thank you it helps change my focus onto what is working well, what is going right.

Once I began to think with a thankful perspective and communicate appreciation for the little things, I began to see Luke’s actions differently. I began to recognize the “why” behind what he did big or little. For instance, my husband’s willingness to go to the store at 12am in the morning to pick up nyquil. That action showed me that he cares about not only my well being but that I get decent rest. Although I already knew these things to be true,I need constant vocal or physical reminders because let’s face it life gets to us and we forget just how much our spouse or loved on really does care about us.

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It may sound strange to, say: thank my husband for going to work everyday. But I see the deeper value or purpose behind his behavior. By always going to work, dressed professionally, on time, I see he has a strong work ethic, sense of responsibility to his co-workers and patients, and he cares about our financial security.  So when I thank him for a small everyday action, what I am really saying is I see and appreciate who he is: the roles he has taken on, and his values and ethics.

It takes discipline to remember to communicate my gratitude but overtime it helps develop perspective. I am able to see more clearly the emotions and values behind what Luke is communicating to me. In turn I am more aware of how I communicate and thank him through my behaviors back. It makes the little things Luke does for me or I do for him seem not so little anymore. Because when I get a small text in the middle of my day that simply says: “hey love u babe” it makes a big impact in how I handle the rest of my daily routine leading me more towards contentment and away from complacency

How about you?

What little things do you take for granted?

What little things are you grateful for/impact you the most?

Tell them Thank You!

We are now counting down to my little brother’s wedding.  In T minus 16 days, I’ll be the proud big sister standing with the other bridesmaids watching every moment up close.

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my brother’s wedding in only 2 weeks

When I think back to my wedding, one of those last minute details was personal gifts and thanks yous to those who mattered most: bridesmaids, groomsmen, family, and others who significantly helped in the journey to the day at the altar. If you read my Favors from Friends a great way to Save blogpost then this will be an expansion on my last important note: don’t forget to tell them Thank You!!!

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Bridesmaid gifts:

Traditionally brides give their bridesmaids a small gift the day of the wedding usually as everyone is getting ready. It is common for this gift to be  jewelry such as earrings, a pendant necklace, or bracelet that the bridesmaids can wear that day.

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As you may recall, I had a family friend make bracelets with purple glass beads and a golden clasp for my bridesmaids. These bracelets was casual enough my bridesmaids could wear them again buy classy enough for the wedding.

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But you do not have to be traditional and give jewelry.  How about some lip gloss, or small sample-size hand lotion? Maybe you can’t budget-in these gifts. You can alway make a small personal keep sake or of course keep it simple and write a thank you card. The gifts are no where near as important to your female friends and family then a personal thank you note recognizing their help in getting you to this significant day.

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Groomsmen gifts:

Luke chose to give out nice hunting knives to his group of Northwestern groomsmen. Although guys are not as apt to write detailed thank you notes, it is a good idea to have something small to recognize they chose to be there for you and to thank them. How about a beer or coffee mug? Sunglasses if it’s a summer wedding?

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Or maybe you just want to take some time to get coffee, a beer, or a burger with them before the wedding hits. (Some time other than the bachelor party); low key hang-out which you can do with everyone or each individually.

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Ring bearer, Flower Girl gifts

For a kid being in a wedding requires a lot of patience, wearing fancy clothes all day, and a large amount of time spent with grown-ups. So taking the time to thank them for being good is important. I chose to buy my flower girl  jewelry from Claire’s: a little costume pearl bracelet set and a necklace.

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Again, you do not have to give jewelry. What do little girls like?  Bubbles, coloring books, dolls, stuffed animals, get creative!!  I did not have a ring bearer but think about giving him small toys like bouncy balls, hot wheel cars (or a cheap version), coloring books, toy dinosaurs etc. Of course remember to buy age appropriate toy!!

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Volunteer Helpers:

I had good friends volunteer to do my hair and another to do my makeup. I knew neither one of them would accept a check for their services. So instead I bought them both gift cards for facials from our esthetician friend.  You may have all paying services, but if you have asked a friend to MC, be the DJ, wedding coordinate, take photos/video, or professionally do everyone’s hair/ makeup and they are not getting paid for it-consider at least a 5 dollar Starbucks thank you card.

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I gave these thank yous to my helpers the day of the wedding but you can always mail it to them later if you are concerned about them getting lost in the after wedding clean-up.

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Mom: (person that helped you plan/coordinate the most)

For me it was important to recognize my Mom. She was my right hand women during the whole engagement process: dealing with my stressed moments and helping me make decisions, stick to a budget, and a timeline.  So I bought my mom a ring with amber and amethyst colored stones which she could wear at the wedding.

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Your mother may not be your go-to girl. Maybe it is your maid of honor, a sister, a cousin, a roommate, or best friend. Whether you can afford a gift or not taking the time get to coffee or drinks, or just pulling them aside in the middle of pre-wedding events to share your appreciation is important. You know that without them you would have given up on trying to properly get down the aisle and given into the temptation to elope months ago.

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Grooms/Brides gift

In some circles it is also tradition that the night before the wedding the bride and groom give each other a small gift; something simple to say “thank you for getting through the past few months of craziness with me”.  After the wedding rehearsal, Luke and I sat in the car for a few quiet moments alone.  It is then that I chose to give Luke a card expressing some thoughts I felt more comfortable writing out for him then reading out-loud the next day. With this card came a Princess Bride themed mug that said “mawidge is what bwing us togevver today” and a bag of expresso beans from our favorite coffee shop. He now uses this mug for coffee breaks at work.

I got a canvas tote bag saying the same phrase

I got a canvas tote bag saying the same phrase

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Again, these gifts do not have to cost much or anything at all. Maybe it is important you express how you are feeling about your wedding the next day or want to give each other a card that says so.  Or maybe it’s important to just have a few minutes together:  go on a walk, get coffee or ice cream; something simple, something normal.

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The most important thing for all of these people is to express that you are grateful they were apart of your engagement and are there to support you on your wedding day. It  doesn’t matter how you express your thankfulness or how much you spend on their gifts-you know how best to tell them thank you.

The Paperwork: wedding invites and thank you cards

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Outside of the wedding license the most remembered pieces of paperwork in the wedding world are invitations and thank you cards. These days there are so many options and routes to inform people about wedding events. You can by hire a calligrapher to hand design them, be creative and have invites printed on balloons, or have someone custom lazer engrave designs on thin pieces of wood (I’ve seen it done). But as remembered and displayed as these pieces of information are, most of them will at some point end up in a trash can.

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wedding invites from this summer that are so pretty but will have to go in the trash at some point 😦

So for those of you who don’t have the budget or time to match those creative desires displayed in magainzes and on pintrest, you can choose from a variety of much cheaper , realistic ,but still beautiful options such as making your own, creating them through online sites, or buying packs at the local craft store.

Invitations:

So what did I do? I went to Michaels for both the wedding invites and thank you cards. I bought beautiful box set invitations. Each box came with invitations, response cards and envelopes, stickers for printing or writing out addresses and blank additional cards for address and or directions along with a little decoration in one neat packet.

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The first step, using the online code given on the box, was figuring out the program’s formatting system. Then we could choose whatever wording, font, and even color we wanted for all our printed materials. Once wording was chosen, my dad took them to work to be printed.

Then we had Luke, my Mom, my cousin, and myself assemble them all. Although assembly was required it was pretty easy to navigate how the pieces fit together.

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Do not forget those card from your registry companies. When you register they should give you enough registry cards for all of your invitations, if they do not, have them print some off for you. If you live far away from your registry locations you can call and ask for them to be mailed.

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Each of our invitations opened with a sticker. Inside in center was the official invitation tied off with a bow. On the left fold was a sleeve with placement for response card and envelope as well the address and directions card.

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Everyone said the invitations were classy and simple. No one guessed we assembled them ourselves and they were purchased in a box set. In fact, one of our guests who was unable to come, as a wedding present framed her invitation so we would always have at least one saved.

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Thank you Cards

When it came time to do thank you cards I had several options. I could have found thank you cards in the same or similar print as our invitations carried at Michaels. Instead we wanted to use thank you cards featuring one of our wedding pictures. This way guests who were unable to attend could still get a glimpse of the celebration.

This past year Michaels for the first time offered deals online to create your own pictured Christmas cards. Since our wedding was in October and we moved to New York in November, we decided to send our thank you cards also as Christmas cards so everyone could have our new address and an update on our lives. We found a backdrop which left room for a large picture and had a similar pattern and color theme to our invitations. Using the online template program, we added in the words.

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They turned out great and came in the mail in boxes with mailing envelopes. We bought more than enough to send to everyone who had sent us gifts or helped us in planning the wedding.

Then the hard part, writing a note to each guest. A word of advice: use 2 templates: one for those who gave you a gift and one for those who gave you a gift card or money. And remember to keep all those addresses you used for invitations and that you keep a clear list of who gave you what. In our cards we shared basic information about our move and Luke’s new job and both signed it off wishing everyone a great Christmas and New Year. It worked perfectly.

We may very well choose to go online to Michaels  to make our Christmas card this next year.

Random Acts of Kindness

Yesterday as I went about my normal errands I began to get a  migraine. The type that blurs your vision as a warning before the blinding pain hits. I was already at the grocery store and determined to get in and get out before too much trouble. Yet I had to consciously move and read labels up close so I did not create a grocery-cart accident or buy the wrong flavor of yogurt. Before I left the store, my vision returned and the pain began to creep in. With focus I got out to my car and put away the groceries.

As I scanned the parking lot for a place to return my cart, I saw an older man with a white beard and hat do the same. He turned around and seeing me said he would take my cart for me. I was surprised at this small act of kindness and said a very grateful “thank you” with a genuine smile. When I got in my car he saw me and gave me the clear signal so I knew I could back out.

Those two acts of kindness were small and random but they helped me relax a little until I could get home and take some medicine for the headache.

When I got home I realized it was Random Acts of Kindness week! Whether the man was living out a New Years Resolution, a personal Random Act of Kindness for the week, or being his complete self I don’t know. I’d like to think it was the last. In some ways it is sad that humans are so selfish that we need new years resolutions and weeks to promote random acts of kindness in order to see people be kind!

But I am not dismissing the work of the Random Acts of Kindness organization. In fact, if you or your company are doing a Random Act of Kindness this week you can share your stories here on my blog and/or their website (just click on their title in orange above).

Thanks!