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Bratty Bride Goes Shopping

If “Bridezilla” and some of the other wedding reality TV shows are to be believed (and I’m not so sure they are—no bride I’ve known has had anything so much as resembling a meltdown), there are at least a few ladies who think their “bride” status entitles them to be bossy, demanding, and downright rude. Planning a wedding can be stressful and time-consuming, but whenever I get the urge to complain, I try to stop and remind myself of one key thing: every last piece of it is a privilege.

It’s a privilege to have found a partner who returns my love and shares a desire to commit to a life together. It’s a privilege to have caring family and friends with whom to celebrate our joy. And it’s privilege to have the resources to throw a party with beautiful decorations and  abundant food and drink. These are not things to be taken for granted, and they’re assuredly not a license for temper tantrums and testy outbursts.

So I’m confident “Bridezilla” is well beyond my basic crankiness capabilities.

I’m embarrassed to admit that a little alter-ego I’ve come to call Bratty Bride is not.

 Meeting Bratty Bride

When you’re planning a wedding, everyone, it seems, has an opinion. Vendors and wedding professionals—the photographer, the florist, the DJ—are supposed to have opinions; you pay them well for their expertise, and when they share their knowledge, it impacts your vision and helps you make decisions. But then there are, oh, say, the overly enthusiastic dental hygienists, or the nosy sale clerks whose advice seems entirely derived of their own nuptial dreams and utterly divorced from the reality of yours.

It was whilst I was on the receiving end of such advice that I first met my inner Bratty Bride. Continue reading

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A Whole Lot of Wonderful (with a Little Bit of Ick)

Happy New Year! It’s still kind of hard to believe that 2015 is our year: the year we’ll tie the knot. Wow. And…wow!

I don’t know if it’s true that one’s New Year’s Eve experience is a harbinger of the year to come, but our conclusion of 2014 was a microcosm of the mixed bag that is marriage (and life): a whole lot of wonderful with a modicum of miserable thrown in to keep us humble. The wonderful: we concluded an amazing trip to England, where we spent Christmas and New Year’s visiting Oxford (Steve’s youngest, Dusty, is studying there), London, and Stratford-upon-Avon. It was an incredible week: attending midnight Eucharist at St. Mary’s church in Oxford, drinking cider at a tavern older than the United States, touching an English yew in the botanical gardens planted in 1645. After days spent viewing London from the top of the Eye, watching the ravens at the Tower, and seeing a moving performance of Love’s Labour’s Lost at the RSC, we toasted the New Year with chocolate stout and warm mulled cider at the Angel and Greyhound pub. It’s hard to express the sense of wonder, gratitude, and even disbelief that comes with sharing such moments—Am I really here? Is this really my life? How did I get so lucky?

Yet the universe has a way of keeping your feet on the ground, and while there are far worse miseries, the last days of the trip offered an excellent chance to test loving and cherishing each other “in sickness and in health.” We think it started with Steve (though I’m still second-guessing the wisdom of drinking from the communal wine goblet on Christmas Eve). But in any case, his sniffles became my sinus congestion became son Tucker’s stuffed-up ears. Exhausted, it was all I could do to keep my head up off the table and breathe without a coughing fit during our New Year’s visit to the pub. Full disclosure: we didn’t make it until midnight. Continue reading

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Guiding Words for the New Year

So, 2015 is gonna be kind of a big year in these parts. 🙂

A couple of years ago I saw a post about foregoing New Year’s resolutions and instead choosing “guiding words” for the year. I believe this concept originated with Chris Brogan, who, in any case, has been doing it for a while. Though I can only speak for my own take on the practice, I think of guiding words as a way of articulating intentionality, in terms of attitude as well as action.

Brogan advocates choosing only three words, but when I chose mine in 2013, I picked five, and defined them for myself as follows:

Openness = Being open with and to the world, sharing honestly and generously, and welcoming new ideas, people, and experiences.

Love = Being a loving person, letting love and compassion for self and others guide my actions.

Follow-through = Completing what I start, following through on commitments made to myself and others, while honoring time’s fleetingness.

Gratitude = Wanting what I have, expressing thanks for the gifts of my life, and keeping joys and challenges in perspective.

Sparkle = Living a life filled with wonder, adventure, and beauty, shining light on the world and seeing how the world shines back.

I wrote longer descriptions for myself, connecting each word to more specific aspirations. I still like these words, yet, looking back, they’re a bit lofty. Maybe that’s why I didn’t create a list of words in 2014—and why three might in fact be a better number. Continue reading

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Romance Counts

My fiancé Steve and I see the world differently. He likes to tell the story of how, when we were trying to remember whose toothbrush was whose, he determined ownership by recalling his brush was on the left, mine on the right, whereas I identified our respective implements by color: his green, mine blue. A similar scenario occurred trying to recall which mug belonged to whom—I checked the colors of the teabag tags, remembering Earl Grey was yellow, English Breakfast red, while he’d noted he’d placed his mug to the left. He relies on spatial relationships for identification and cueing. I inevitably register color first.

Colorful blooms caught my eye at the Grove Park Inn

Colorful blooms caught my eye at Grove Park Inn

The point here isn’t that we middle-aged folk keep forgetting things; the point is the differences in how our brains work. Steve has a mathematical, map-guy mind that tends toward a linear, laser-point focus; I’m a creative, crafty type, with a heightened aesthetic awareness, my attentions more diffuse. More than once while traveling, we’ve passed some wacky, hard-to-miss building or sign, or a group of deer hovering on the side of the highway. Each time, Steve was so focused on the road in front of him that he missed anything not represented on the GPS. (Note: generally speaking, a driver’s ability to keep eyes on the road is a plus!) And of course, there’s shopping: if Steve’s targeting shirts, he looks at shirts, and nothing else registers. I am almost incapable of filtering out all the pretty items on the periphery, especially those in my favorite colors.

Our minds clearly process information in wildly different ways, and while this is true for all couples to some degree, our obvious disparity carries the distinct benefit of preventing romantic relationship pitfall #11: believing that true love creates magical mind-reading powers.

To whit: we don’t even see our toothbrushes the same way. Any expectation that the other could consistently and accurately conjure up (and then fulfill) our deepest thoughts and desires borders on absurdity.

But it’s good intel. Because that knowledge reinforces the importance of romantic relationship lesson #23: you have to ask for what you want. Continue reading