Thursday, March 23, 2017

Being Brave

I have found that the times I am most proud of myself are the times when I was brave. For me, it's not always about the wins, numbers, or titles in life. It's about those moments when I don't think I can do something, and then I do it anyway.

I try to practice my bravery every single day. I try to do things that I am scared to do: make that phone call, send the e-mail, ask the question, make a suggestion, speak up in the meeting. These are all things that seem small, but can sometimes be incredibly difficult for me. But I do them anyways. It may not seem like much on an average day, but the little things encourage me to try bigger things. To be just a little bit braver and bolder.

My constant fear, one that has been there for most of my life, is one of being wrong. It's why I almost never raised my hand in class growing up. I am almost 30 years old and slowly learning that it is okay to be wrong. It's not a fault or a flaw, it is merely a chance to learn from it, ask more questions, gain understanding, and start fresh. There is no need to be embarrassed to be wrong. We were meant to be wrong sometimes. We were meant to trip so that we can get back up again.

When you start to learn that it's okay to make a mistake, you can begin to be a little bit braver. You no longer are paralyzed by the fear of someone disagreeing with you, so you speak up.

It's a slow process for me. I still doubt myself quite often. But man, in those moments where my bravery shines through, I sure feel proud. And I recognize when others are showing their bravery, too. I know this life isn't easy for any of us and that so many of us wrestle with self doubt and worry. So know that when I see you stepping forward, speaking up, and standing out, I'm incredibly proud of you.

Not every day is going to have a monumental moment of bravery. That's not the point. Be proud of the little things, and know that every single day that you are putting positive energy and good things out into the world, you are making a difference.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Wedding Planning: Let It Go

Tom and I have almost exactly 6 months to go until our wedding day. We've also been engaged for about 8 months, so we are right smack in the middle of the wedding planning process.

We have crossed nearly every priority task off the list. We have booked our venue, DJ, photographer, and florist. We're close to booking our cake baker (she is a friend of mine, just need to schedule a day to meet and sign the contract!). We found someone to do our favors and I booked our hair and makeup team for the day of. My dress is purchased and Tom has a deposit on his tuxedo.

Through all of this, we've managed to remain pretty level headed. We've made decisions together, gone through our checklist, made the guest list, etc. There really hasn't been too much to stress about- yet.

But now we are starting to plan for all the little things. You know, like all the paper stuff. Invitations, programs, table numbers, escort cards (so much paper). Decorations, shoes, jewelry. Cupcake stands and card boxes. All the little things that truly don't make that much of a difference, yet somehow still cost entirely too much money and have far too many options.

So I am writing this post, mostly for me, to come back to when I find myself too stressed out over the little things. Maybe this will help some other brides out there, too.

Remember what is important about your wedding day. It is not the little things that people see for a moment and then forget about. People are there to celebrate you and the love of your life, not to examine your escort cards. You are there to marry your best friend, not to stress about the seating chart. This day is about your marriage, being around your dearest friends and family, and making a promise to your partner. When people walk away from a wedding, what do they remember? Spoiler alert, it's not centerpieces. And they probably never saw your shoes. They want to have good food, hear fun music, and drink alcohol.

So do not let these little things stress you out. And when they start to stress you out, think back to every wedding you've ever attended and think about what you remember about those weddings. Most likely it's memories on the dance floor or the killer speech someone gave...or the beautiful music during the ceremony. Or how stunning the bride looked. You did not remember what kind of decorations were on the "welcome table" or the "gift table" or the "dessert table" and for the love of God, why do we have so many tables?

Just enjoy this time with your best friend and family. Take a breath, let it go, and move onto the next thing.

Cheers to every other couple in the middle of their wedding planning. We've got this.

And to Tom, I love you and thank you for being the calm presence I so need.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Listen to your body

A few weeks ago, I started playing with the idea of planning a mini "staycation". I was having constant dreams about work, and waking up several times in the middle of the night worrying about work related things. In a group text with some of my coworkers, I asked when the cutoff was to use our carryover PTO days. I could sense I needed a few days off. It didn't help that most of my weekends had been completely full of activity, leaving very little time to just relax.

I kept putting it off, this staycation idea. I thought maybe I'd take a few days off in April, maybe around Easter. 

Last Monday, while eating lunch with two of my coworkers who had been battling the upper respiratory stuff going around, I made a comment that I don't really get sick anymore. Which is actually pretty true. The last time I was really sick was over a year ago. I'd made it out of a few season changes (which is when I usually get a cold) without a hitch.

Until last Tuesday, when I woke up with that dry, scratchy, sore throat feeling I always get when I am about to get sick. I immediately went into defense mode and got myself some tea, zicam, and orange juice. I cancelled an evening meeting and went home so I could eat some chicken noodle soup and go to bed. By the time I got home, my voice was completely gone. It was too late- I was sick.

I spent Wednesday-Friday working from home. Most of my days were full of conference calls and webinars, so I could easily stay away from the office and spreading my germs while getting work done. By Saturday, I was starting to feel better. I went and met with the gals who will be doing my hair and makeup for the wedding to sign the contract and test out the style I wanted, and Tom and I babysat my niece and nephew. Ryan and I played hockey and did yoga- aside from constantly blowing my nose, I was feeling better. When Maureen and Dave got home, Tom and I stayed and we all ate dinner together.

On Sunday, Tom and I had an all day marriage class. Again, I was feeling better. Still keeping kleenex at close hand, but doing better. We had a wonderful class, came home and called my family, as they were meeting my brother's new puppy, Mac. While on the phone, my mom mentioned that my sister wasn't feeling well, she was exhausted and her stomach was upset. Since I had been with her the night before, I joked that she better not have given me the stomach stuff.

I took a nap, did some laundry, and cooked dinner for Tom and I. But I was feeling exhausted, even though I had my nap. I figured it was just the head cold I had been fighting, plus a long day. As soon as I ate dinner, though, my stomach started rumbling and I knew something was off.

I'll spare you the details of the stomach flu, don't worry. It was rough. I spent from about 9 pm to about 4 am off and on in the bathroom. I was off Monday and Tuesday. It's now Tuesday evening and I am feeling much better. 

Why am I telling you all of this? Not for sympathy. I'm fine, I made it, it was just a bad cold and a stomach flu. Could be worse.

But, remember back at the beginning, when I said I was needing some days off, but kept putting it off?

My body, I believe, was forcing me to rest. I KNEW I needed some days away yet I kept going- and because of it, my body suffered. 

It was a huge reminder to me that I need to listen to my body. If taking a day or two off work to recharge were not possible, could I have cut back on evening/weekend activities and spent that time just relaxing? Probably. 

I haven't been to the office or to the gym in a week. My "step count" since last Wednesday is laughable. I haven't drank coffee in a week. I've had more soup in the last 7 days than I could ever imagine. I've watched more youtube videos than I care to admit. I have had very little contact with the outside world. 

Tomorrow, I go back. I imagine I'll be pretty tired, my first few days getting back into a routine. I'll try to remember to take things one step at a time, to not get too far ahead of myself, do my best with what I have and to take breaks/rest when I need it.

I hope you do the same- remember to listen to your body, mind, and spirit.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Latest Life Lessons....

Lately, I've found myself saying the following phrases either to myself or to people around me. I hope they may serve as a gentle reminder for you, too.

  • You are not defined by a number. You are not your age, you are not your salary, you are not the number on the scale, you are not the grade you get on a test or your rank at your work evaluation. You are a person, who is unique and full of wonderful qualities, and you are not defined by a number.
  • When you are anxious, you are going to want to take it out on the people closest to you. Don't. Or, if you do, remember to apologize, to ask for forgiveness, and to remind that person how much you love them. Go for a walk, write down your emotions, listen to music, do some yoga- try your best not to lash out on your loved ones.
  • Do not shame others for what they eat. This is such a pet peeve of mine. I'm certain I'm guilty of it as well- like when I ask Tom how he can possibly eat Taco Bell. But I absolutely cringe when I see posts or hear people criticize others for their food choices. Sure, I am all about being healthy. But good gracious, let a person make their own choices, and don't make them feel guilty for it. Food is already such a touchy subject- you don't know what kind of eating disorders a person may have. Eat the way you want to eat, and let others do the same.
  • Do not read the comments section on news articles. You know it will just make you upset. I am all about sharing our opinions in this political age, and I don't think it's the time to be silent, but I also know that for my mental health, I can't read those comments.
  • If you're going through a really hard time, it's okay to tell people. They may not understand, and they may not have a response, but I think it's important for the people around you to know that you are struggling.
  • Thank your coworkers. They may not know how much you appreciate them helping you with a project. Or, they may think no one notices how hard they work. Send little appreciation notes here and there, spread the love in your workplace. It helps boost morale, you will make someones day, and you'll probably feel a little bit brighter yourself.
  • Everyone has a different idea of what life's checklist should look like. Your goals will not match my goals. Your idea of happiness is probably not my idea of happiness. What you define as successful may not be my definition. The way you picture a family to look like may not be what I envision as a family.  We've got to understand that all of us come from different paths in life, and all of us are going about this thing in our own way. So long as we are happy (our own version of happy), there's no right or wrong way to do it. 

That's it for now, folks. Just keep living life, spreading love and doing the best you can.