Friday, September 23, 2016

Wedding Planning: Expectation vs. Reality

I have a million other things I should be doing right now, but oh well. Inspiration struck, and, well, here we are...enjoy!

Ever since I was a little girl I have dreamed of getting married. I mean, I practically grew up around weddings. From the ages of 3 to 13 I was a consistent member of wedding parties as a flower girl, junior bridesmaid, and altar server among other roles for cousins, friends, and (of course) my sisters. Truth be told, I would always tend to get a little salty when I wasn't a part of a wedding as a child. I always went to weddings fully prepared to take over in the event that the flower girl couldn't uphold her duties! (I never went full Tonya Harding, but still...) Anymore, I'm a huge sap when it comes to weddings. I cry at almost every wedding, just because I can identify with the way the couples feel, especially now.

Like most girls, I had many aspects of my dream wedding mentally planned out, all I needed was to find someone willing to marry me! Any detail one could think of, I had it all planned out. I knew exactly what I wanted, even in my future husband. I had so many plans, and I never wanted to deviate from them. I wanted bridesmaids to wear all black, non-matching dresses with multi-colored flowers, I wanted the men to wear black tuxes, and I wanted everything to be Pinterest-perfect. I wanted to marry a man who was older than me and from somewhere near to me. I wanted to date so many guys who I was convinced would be perfect for me. I wanted so many things that I overlooked the most important thing--what God wanted for me.

God knew exactly what he was doing when he brought Thomas and I together. All of the details surrounding the beginning of our relationship couldn't be any better. Believe it or not, Thomas met (almost) every detail on my list of what I wanted in a man. (Yes, this is a real list that I wrote the day I decided to break up with Tevis. I still have it, and Thomas and I have read it together multiple times. It makes me happy!) Funny enough, I would dwell on this list every time I met someone new, but I put it away for a while, because I felt like it was holding me back in terms of who I wanted to date. About the time I quit focusing on it, Thomas came around and shocked me by asking me on a date. After dating him for a month or so, I came back to it and realized it described him almost to a tee. But by that point, I realized that I loved him immensely and the fact that he matched up with my "expectations" really didn't matter too much. That was one of the first times in our relationship I realized that it was better to set aside any unnecessary/unspoken expectations and fully experience the reality of our relationship, which was beyond amazing!

Immediately after we were engaged, we started making little decisions about the wedding. I told Thomas about my visions of all black, non-matching bridesmaid dresses and tuxes, and he looked at me, and said, "Black? In July? In Oklahoma? That sounds too hot." Then he proposed the idea of navy, perhaps with gray suits...I liked it a little more than I was willing to admit at the moment. The more we discussed together, the more I parted ways with my childhood visions. In fact, planning with Thomas was even better than my original plans, because we both had input on a day that was for both of us, not just me. As we've continued in the planning, I've tried to ensure that Thomas is an active part of planning our big day, unless he explicitly states that he is indifferent on the matter.

A few weeks ago I found my wedding dress, as I mentioned last time. Admittedly, I spent a ludicrous amount of time browsing Pinterest in search of a dress I thought would look perfect on me. I mean, it was helpful so I at least knew what styles appealed to me, but beyond that, it didn't do much besides setting up lots of expectations in my mind. Ultimately, I went to the dress shop, let the lady who helped me get dressed work her magic and bring me dresses I might like. My only stipulation was that I didn't wear white, because I thought with how pale I am that I would look even more pale. Yet, my dress is seriously white. And it looks perfect. And I love it! After finding my dress, I promptly deleted that particular Pinterest board, because I no longer needed it. It was freeing, honestly!

I'm always trying to work to not rely so much on my expectations and to keep an open mind. Some days that's more of a struggle than I'm willing to admit, but I like to think I'm getting better. Moreover, I've loved getting to make these choices with Thomas, not by myself. Granted, we definitely have our fair share of "creative differences", but we usually come back to a compromise/ agreement of some sort, and one of us always manages to put it all in perspective again...at the end of our wedding day, we'll be married, and we'll get to spend the rest of our lives together. No more long-distance, no more constant goodbyes. It'll all be worth it, and nothing else will matter. That sounds like a pretty amazing reality to me!

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Wedding Planning Updates (and Then Some...)

Hello all! I'm back again!

School is going fairly well for me. We're well into our four-day weeks, and I think we're all starting to adjust alright. It's not bad at all (I mean, three-day weekends are the best!), but it's a little weird. The longer days (8:00-3:45) make it tougher to stay motivated throughout the day, especially after school. Not to mention that I usually have to stay later than I care to to get done what I need to so I'm not constantly bringing stuff home. I've learned that the less work I bring home, the happier I am...sometimes there's no other option, but that's how teaching goes. One of my least favorite parts of teaching is the fact that work-life balance sometimes isn't a thing. It weighs heavy on my mind as I consider what I'll do next year (and beyond). So far, I'm definitely more inclined to keep teaching than I was, oh, say, 3 months ago, but I'm still going to weigh my options. If I am to keep teaching, a Master's degree is definitely in my future, if only for better pay/job options. I've also considered going more into tutoring, but that could be better for the future, if you catch my drift. Many of my students have made it known to me that they're not ready for me to leave in May. I know I've mentioned that already, but it bears repeating. I'll admit that it is a bit gratifying to know that in one year of teaching, I already have made a positive impact on students' lives...that'll always mean more to me than any math I'll teach them, as odd as that sounds. Sometimes it's all about perspective, you know?

As I mentioned earlier, one of my bigger struggles as of late has been finding the right balance between work, home, and cleaning the church (which I still do). I perpetually feel like something is always lacking. If I get ahead in one place, I'm way behind somewhere else. Then I just struggle a little bit to decide when I want to take the necessary 1.5 hours to clean church. It's all a balancing act in the end. Really I'm not stressed out by any of this, not like you'd expect, at least. It just takes a lot more effort on my part to put all the pieces together each week, especially once you toss in the fact that either Thomas or I are traveling to see one another, which often throws my weekends into a little bit of a tizzy. For now, this is my life, and I know just as soon as I'll find a rhythm, the wedding will be here! Speaking of, we're only 4 days away from the 10-month mark! Good things, right!

In other news, Thomas and I went down to Dallas a couple of weekends ago. We had a successful trip, although it was a little disappointing that we couldn't travel together like we usually do. I had a lovely time getting to see his parents, as usual. Thomas arrived late Friday night, so we had to cram all of our Dallas activities into Saturday. The biggest highlight of Saturday morning was going to the jeweler and buying my wedding band! It was really a quick process, only taking us about 15-20 minutes. I guess when you already have an engagement ring and you want to match everything up, your options are somewhat limited. I love my wedding band, but for the time being it'll stay there. The jeweler didn't seem too concerned, and honestly didn't feel like we really needed to buy anything yet. Since we didn't know the next time we'd both be there, we figured we'd just go ahead and buy it. One more thing off the list!

The rest of the afternoon was a flurry of getting Thomas's car washed at his car dealership (where he used to work) and getting a haircut with his lifelong barber. The real excitement of Saturday was the Coldplay concert that brought us there in the first place! It was held at AT&T Stadium (Cowboys Stadium/Jerry-World/the Death Star/etc.), which happens to be next door to Globe Life Park, where the Rangers play/were playing that night at the same time as the concert. Traffic was pretty nuts to say the least! When we finally got into the stadium, it was pretty overwhelming, as the concert was sold out. Thomas did a fantastic job of picking seats! The opening acts weren't bad, but they were NOTHING compared to when Coldplay finally took the stage! I probably didn't enjoy their first two songs as much as I should have because I was so ecstatic, I couldn't stop crying! From start to finish, the concert was absolutely amazing!!! It was easily the best concert experience I've ever had! Even Thomas, who wasn't totally on board with it all, loved it. If nothing else, he loved seeing how excited I was. He was a trooper! I love him so much for taking me there! I'm so happy we could experience it together! What a great time!

Labor Day weekend was spent with the Lieses at a cabin near Beaver Lake. We were mostly off the grid (minus the TV with Dish) for three whole days, which was very refreshing. Steve, Diana, Elizabeth, Thomas, and I converged there on Friday afternoon/evening. Saturday was mostly spent exploring the property. We had a failed attempt at attending Mass on Saturday night. The closest church was 30 minutes away in Eureka Springs. What we didn't realize was that the roads taking us there were extraordinarily curvy and/or hilly. This didn't bode well for Elizabeth or me, who are both prone to carsickness. We took a couple wrong turns once we made it to town, and we ended up taking a street called Mountain Street to get there. It was accurately named, and I'll leave it at that. I truly thought we'd meet our demise once or twice on that road, but we didn't. We finally arrived at the church, and frankly, we needed it at that point. We read that on Saturdays Mass was held at the parish center, which we assumed was on the same property. That's where we were wrong. We unloaded, somewhat road-worn, and were greeted by a nice older gentleman with a camera who informed us that Mass was held at a place 8 miles away. We opted to just visit the chapel, pray, and call it good. It probably wasn't "right", but had we got back into the car, we'd have been late and either Elizabeth or I would have barfed. We tried, right? We settled for some quick sightseeing, then went off to supper at a place called the Bavarian Inn. It was a delightful supper! We all enjoyed some libations, which really made the trip back much easier to handle for me. The rest of the weekend was lazy and relaxing, just how we liked it. It was sad to depart, but the real world beckoned us back. So life goes, I suppose.

My favorite update to share with you all is that I said "yes" to my dress!!! Yesterday, my parents, my sisters, Diana, my Aunt Pat, and I descended upon the local bridal shop, where I found the dress to end all dresses! It only took me about an hour to do so, surprisingly. Everyone agreed that this dress was their favorite. A couple of fun facts, since obviously, no pictures. (Thomas is one of my most loyal readers, so why would I even think of posting it?) First, it is pure white. I didn't think it'd work on me since I am really pale and know I won't tan. (I only burn out in the sun, and I'll never allow myself to set foot in a tanning salon, since melanoma, you know?) I thought the white would wash me out, but it actually made me look a little darker than expected. It was a great color on me! It isn't strapless, which was one of my few stipulations. Every prom dress I've ever worn was strapless, and I was miserable all night, worried that I'd "fall out" of my dress, so I decided not to even fuss with it this time. Best yet, the dress is the perfect mix of modern and vintage. The train is longer than I thought I'd get, but it's absolutely perfect!!! Better yet, we also found the bridesmaid dresses. I thought I wanted everyone in different dresses, but I decided against that in the name of simplicity. I regret nothing! :) Fun fact: my dad found the veil I ended up picking! I know that I'll appreciate that as time goes on! I'm so excited!!!

In other good news, I found out that Thomas and I will get to attend an OSU game next weekend with incredible seats! Our great friend from OSU, Sierra, called yesterday and told us! It was like winning the lottery, what with getting my dress AND free tickets to an OSU game! I'm so excited and so unbelievably blessed beyond measure! I can't wait for that!

On a last, somewhat sad note, I can't believe that this coming Friday will mark one year since my beloved Uncle Joe passed away. So much has happened since then. Honestly, my life is completely different now than it was last year. It probably would have still been different had he not died, but it all still seems much more different. It seems sad thinking that he won't physically be at my wedding, but I know he'll be watching from afar, along with everyone else...my grandparents, Michelle, Aunt Carol, Thomas's deceased grandparents, and so many others. It hurts to think about this, but I can't let myself dwell on it too much. Life continues even after death, and life is too beautiful to dwell on the past. My life, even with all of the hurt, is beautiful, and I'm so excited to marry Thomas!!! Only 307 days left!!!

Have a great week everyone!