like someone you love.

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset I’ve been doing this thing lately where I ask “how can I best take care of myself in this moment?” and then I pause long enough to hear the answer. The thing about our hearts, is that they know. This year I’ve placed a high priority on taking care of myself and am constantly reorganizing my commitments and schedule to find balance.  It’s not a fixed point you know, taking care of yourself and juggling all of the commitments that life requires of us.  My philosophy about self-care and self-love is that you can’t show up fully to the present moment and to the people that you love when you don’t feel whole.

On the surface, self-care can include practices like receiving adequate sleep, spending time in nature, practicing yoga, getting a massage, taking a long bath, or engaging in supportive eating habits.  These kinds of activities nourish ourselves and help to restore our hearts and minds; they take care of our most basic needs.  And we can practice all of these things and still find ourselves feeling internally restless, uneasy, uninspired, harsh, inadequate, anxious, sad, or unkind.  Beyond all of the self-care rituals we can tend to is perhaps a greater, more gentle, and necessary way of being with ourselves.

This year, I started with the practices. I went to yoga almost every day and spent a lot of time outside with my feet in a stream.  I collected rocks, slept under the stars, and journaled regularly.  I said ‘no’ to things when I was tired and gave myself plenty of permission to rest. But the real work and internal shifts came by getting to know myself deeply enough to identify underlying core beliefs about my worth and how achievements and accomplishments fueled the reaching for feelings of ‘enough.’  The self-love came when I allowed myself to be imperfect after making a mistake, or when I showered myself in kindness after making the wrong choice.  The deep self-love came when I interrupted a habitual thought patterning of shame and negative self-talk and stopped myself from continually replaying out situations in my mind, of living in the past.

Our society talks a lot about self-love and self-care, especially these days.  But there are still so many people feeling lonely, disappointed, and not okay.  I think it’s partly because we have mixed up the intention of doing self-care practices with the intention of being someone who cares about themself. Self-love and self-care are not about excusing your behaviors or giving yourself permission to over-indulge or over-consume, they are about moments when you choose to hold space for the human being that you are.  Self-love is about becoming familiar with the thoughts that pass through our minds everyday and learning that we are not our thoughts and we are not our feelings.    The practice is in acknowledging the way you are unfolding and blooming to the present moment, no matter how messy or scary that might be. Its requires active and continual effort to honor your existence, tune in, listen, and then make a choice based on what it is you need.

 

I invite you to begin treating yourself the same way you would treat someone you dearly love.  It can get messy because it might ask us to uncover some truths about our self-worth, feelings of value, and ability to set boundaries with time, people, and our resources.  It might stir up feelings of regret, anger, shame, or dissatisfaction.  And all of that is okay; we can allow ourselves to feel the way we feel without having to act or changing anything.  That is self-love.

 

 

I offer you ultimate permission to unequivocally be yourself.  To feel bad and still be okay, to be imperfect and still enough.  To be a work in progress and still a brilliant masterpiece.  I encourage you to take as much time as you need, to move slowly,  and to work on only one thing at a time.  I invite you to learn about where you hurt and why, and to set an intention to send the love there.  Connect to what inspires you and chase those little sparks of magic.  Be gentle with your current self, the person you once were, and the person that you are becoming.

 

 

 

 

 

 

be brave enough to love yourself more than you think you deserve.

and then a little more.

on vulnerability.

everything is full.

I’ve sat in a lot of circles this year; hands at my heart, eyes gently closed, feet pressing upon a hardwood floor. We always start off as strangers who come together in vulnerability, and end up as friends.

Last weekend I recognized that somewhere along the way, we’ve learned that it’s dangerous to be vulnerable, that we shouldn’t risk being seen.  Our voices have been quieted in many ways throughout our lives, and somewhere, we’ve learned to keep our pains silent and to suffer quietly in the secrecy of our hearts.  We’ve internalized messages that we are supposed to show up as nicely wrapped packages, organized, happy, and unflawed. We believe we’re supposed to experience life so effortlessly that we feel discouraged when things get hard.

We might have lived lifetimes of saying we are fine when actually, we feel lonely.  When we are actually scared, deeply unhappy, tired, anxious, or hurt.  We mask ourselves in busy-ness, numbing, perfectionism, over/under-eating, alcohol, and drugs.  And we wear cloaks of perfection or indifference to replace our deep rooted fears of being negatively judged, falling short, or feeling inadequate. We harm ourselves through the voice of our inner critic or avoid trying because of the risk of failure. We might resist vulnerability out of fear of what would happen if we opened up.

And while vulnerability can mean many things for different people, for me, it is about uncertainty, risk, and exposing the truest parts of ourselves.  Vulnerability is about our ability to sit with discomfort, name it, and grow in it. It’s about being seen for who we are, especially when it’s hard and when we feel like we are crumbling; especially when it feels like no one could understand.  And I believe this matters because when we close ourselves off to this emotional risk, we start to feel alone.  We feel like something is wrong with us; we feel inadequate, broken, disconnected, and not enough.

 

 

 

 

I think that if you sit on the floor with someone and listen as they talk about what they most fear, how badly it hurt to lose someone they loved, and how difficult it can be to live in their body and mind; we would begin to realize we are all the same.  We hurt in the same ways and seek the same sense of connection, approval, and belonging from others; the similarities in our hearts are greater than the differences that divide us.  And the more people I sit with, the more I realize that the cracks in our hearts are the areas in which we can allow more love in.

This is your gentle reminder that we don’t have to do any of this alone; that we all have a need to feel connected to and nurtured by others.  And what I know is that our relationships and connections to one another help us to stay anchored to the shore when the waves are raging inside and trying to tear us away.  I invite you to give yourself permission to be messy, to be a work of art, to change your mind, and to speak your heart.  I encourage you to make mistakes and learn from them.  To rest when things get hard.  And please know that you can speak your truth and still be scared.  You can feel alone and not know what to do with it; you can be sad and tired, and still okay.  You can be not okay while still holding on.  I invite you to open up to how you feel and honor who you are; mistakes, unknowns, insecurities and all.

 

 

 

 

 

and if there is no one in your circle yet, I would be happy to sit there with you.

we can start off as strangers and end up as friends.

a point in time.

Last weekend was the “Point-In-Time Count (PIT)”- a national measure that takes place every January where a community attempts to capture the number of people who are literally homeless or sleeping in a shelter.  This snapshot of homelessness meets a funding requirement for HUD (Housing and Urban Development) and the data is used to track progress on addressing homelessness, increase local and national awareness, inform policy makers, and attract resources to address homelessness.  It was a Thursday through Sunday of waking up at 3:00am to walk the streets, under bridges, and near loading docks.  Some people went up near the mountains, and others in parks.  The places we visited were hidden and not meant for human habitation, perhaps invisible to your eye if you haven’t been looking.

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the experience and even more time thinking about the people I encountered.  I can’t tell you the depth of their stories and I can’t tell you about their experiences, hopes, fears, and goals, because our interactions were brief and it’s likely that I wouldn’t be able to fully understand, even if we had had all day.  But I can tell you what I saw, what I heard, and how I felt.  I can tell you how it made me reflect and how this experience informs my interactions with people I do not know.  I can tell you about the fire that is inside my heart, and how important it is to not make generalizations about people you do not know.  And I’ll tell you these things with the hopes that perhaps it will offer you a new perspective, an opening in your heart to fill with compassion, or a call to act. I’ll share these words with you in hopes that you’ll be curious and not-judgmental; compassionate rather than condemning.

It was so cold that I had on two pairs of socks, two pairs of pants, two pairs of gloves, five long sleeve shirts, a hat and a jacket.  There was snow on the ground and I was acutely aware that I had gloves and all these layers on and the people we met did not. I was aware of the luxury I had to  buy waterproof snow-boots and the time limited nature of my role in the count. I knew that I would return home to a warm apartment, they would not.  I want you to know that there are places where people sleep that many of  us could not even imagine. I cannot forget how cold I was, nor the knowing of how cold they were too.

None of the people we encountered between 4am and 6am were sleeping; they all appeared to be tired, but it was much too cold.  We met a person laying on a loading dock,  his eyes greeted us over the top of his sleeping bag; he was more vigilant and alert than he was asleep.  We talked to a person under an overpass, huddled between two trash cans with bags of personal belongings laid out in front of him.  I saw that we were both shivering, both cold, and we laughed together over the same joke.  We met another person under a light-post, he explained that he was eager to complete the VI-SPDAT so that he could practice his ‘people skills’ and later asked us for feedback on how he was doing.  He said it was nice to have someone to talk to.  Another person explained that they were formerly homeless and showed more passion than some of the people in the room.

We walked down a dirt road, sideway stepped down a hill, and walked behind a graffitied building.  There was a pile of wood, empty cups, trash, boxes, papers, and a blue tarp piled up to make a home.  An overturned bucket held up the entrance; we only heard his voice and only saw his hands.  He told us several stories that did not seem to be based in reality, and his voice was sweet, his words welcoming.  He had no mailbox and no socks. He lives in a hidden place. I saw a person I knew, shivering on the snow covered cement, supported by the side of a building and his groceries thrown about.  He was outside for over nine hours in the freezing cold because he had fallen and missed the last bus.  A lot of people passed by, but no one had stopped.  I noticed that his lips were pale, his body shaking.

We met a 32 year old laying on a tarp with only a yellow blanket covering his body.   Empty boxes of hand-warmers surrounded him and his shoes were wet. He was under a tree and we heard him crying out in pain.  His toes were raw and blistered; the nurse said his feet were frostbitten and that putting socks on would be too painful.  He spoke only of his severe anxiety  and kept his body under the blanket, partly for warmth, and partly because he said he felt too overwhelmed.  He wouldn’t go to the hospital.

 

We didn’t end up ‘counting’ or assessing as many people as I expected; not because they weren’t there, but because somehow asking questions didn’t seem as important as addressing people’s more emergent medical needs and immediate suffering.  I drove home with tears in my eyes, angry and cold, but with fire burning inside.  I’m still trying to put together the words to describe this point in time.  My thoughts, like many of the sentences in this post, are incomplete.  What I saw was suffering and unshakeable resilience.  I saw people surviving in a way that I had never seen before.

 

I tell you these stories because human suffering is not something we remember only when it is convenient for us.  It is not something we fix with a simple solution or ignore because of an incomplete judgement.  Mental illness, addiction, complex trauma, and homelessness are real.  And they hurt.  It can be isolating.  And they do not fully represent who a person is.

 

What I know most is our shared humanity.  This deep sense that my life is not worth more nor more important than another human being.  I ask you to recognize the actual experience of someone in your community, and I ask you to make room in your heart to love someone that you do not know.  As divisions becoming increasingly cemented, we must continue to make bridges between our hearts.  For me, this is not about politics.  This is about people.

 

Find your mission.  Find your human, your cause, and your fight.  Do not be quieted by systems, policies, or judgements.

We were given voices. minds. and hearts.

 

Act.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

what we think.

Processed with VSCO with f2 presetI am participating in a yoga teacher training and a few weeks ago we started to study the manomaya kosha; the mind.  The parts of ourselves that include thoughts, emotions, beliefs, and images.  We went through a practice that included observing our thoughts and we were asked to begin noticing a habitual running of sentences through our mind.  As we were guided through the practice I found myself internally saying ‘I don’t know how to do this, I’m never going to learn all of this’ asking,”am I doing this correctly?” and similar variations.

What I know is that our thoughts are often snapshots of our underlying core beliefs; beliefs that feel imbedded into who we are and often consciously or unconsciously guide our emotions or behaviors.  For most of us, these beliefs fall into a “I am not _____ enough”  statement.  Maybe you fill in the blank with words like worthy, strong, attractive, skinny, nice, competent, loving, masculine, successful, wealthy, good,  or popular.  Regardless of the adjective, the beliefs turn into feelings of lack, a general feeling of not being enough.

During this practice, I learned of a sentence that quietly runs in the back of mind, a belief that often masks itself in feelings of fear of failure, unsureness, and unease about my level of competency.    When I introspected a little bit deeper, “I am not smart enough” came to mind.  I went back to kindergarten where I saw my 6 year old self standing in front of my sweet teacher, feeling panicked and unsure about whether I would be able to successfully count to one hundred.  I went back to 3rd grade when I failed a cursive handwriting assignment after writing all of my “f’s” backwards.  Or in 4th grade when I was pulled out of math time while learning division because I wasn’t catching on as quickly as the other students.  I recall being surrounded by wonderful friends who were more intelligent, bright, and quicker learners than myself as a seventh grader in junior high.  And I can remember how embarassed I felt in high school after failing the AP calculus exam and learning that all of my friends had passed. I can hear the kind people in my life saying things that were internalized in a way that was perhaps unintended; “you have that lowest ACT score out of the group, but we are glad you are here,” and “we just wanted to spend extra time with you since it was taking you longer than everyone else.”  The statements were harmless, but over time the words somehow blended together into an internal statement of “I am not smart enough.”  This transpired into actions of excessive study, obsessive focus on success, and feelings of failure.  It resulted in an undertone of feeling inadequate and sometimes placing extreme pressure on myself with expectations of scholastic perfection.  This meant that I cried when I got less than an “A” on an assignment and felt panicked after reading the first question on a test.  I felt unsure of my innate ability to learn and of the likelihood that I would be able to succeed. I didn’t  know this about myself until recently.

 

I share these words with you because the homes that are our bodies exist on foundations of beliefs, experiences, and learnings.  I am not _______ enough exists within us all.  It is worth taking a look inside of yourself, asking where your insecurities may lay, and getting to know where those little sparks exist.  I say this because perhaps you’ll find they are not true, that they no longer serve you, or that you might come to know where they came from.  And maybe from this place of knowing, you might begin to see yourself in a more complete way.  You might find that your life experiences have other information to show you.

 

And with a little work, a more balanced thought might arise after allowing all of the other thoughts to settle.  One that says I am competent, able to learn, and intelligent.  One that says I am smart, strong, capable, and deserving. One that says I am enough.

I share all of this with you in hopes that you’ll start to notice the thoughts that cloud your mind, that you’ll start to hear the stories that you tell yourself, and that you’ll start to shake and loosen your grip on the beliefs that that feel real but are not true.  In hopes that  you’ll allow some room for love and self-compassion in.  In hopes that you’ll heal.

In hopes that you begin to deeply know that you are not broken. 

 

because we change

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Think about all of the transitions you’ve been through during this season of your life.  Maybe you’ve began to raise a beautiful human being that exists with an infinite amount of possibilities or  became a beginner again as a new college student.  Perhaps you’ve had to navigate this portion of your life without the comfort of a hand you’ve previously held, tiptoeing  atop the earth knowing that a part of your soul is in the sky.  I like to think that parts of our selves,  like leaves, fall to the ground during autumn too.  And perhaps the only thing we will ever come to know is that it all changes; the leaves, the weather, our existence.

 

I moved to a new state four months ago and said goodbye to some of my hearts greatest treasures.  I left a job I loved and became surrounded by new people, the mountains, and a different culture.  I became a stranger in a city I once somewhat knew, lost again amongst all of the streets and forever trying to find my way.  There’s nothing like change in the literal and figurative weather to stir things up inside, creating room for us to reflect, grow, and heal.

I like to think of our individual cracks-  the hurts, disappointments, setbacks, heartbreaks, failures, traumas, and losses- as the same veins that characterize our favorite marigold yellow, burnt orange, and red leaves.  For the leaf, these veins carry vital nutrients; for us, the life lessons, experiences, and unknowns meant only for our hearts. I believe that some of our most beautiful lessons can be our most painful experiences, if only we might be able to find the meaning deep within ourselves.  Within each crack is the ability to be transformed and soothed. I am not suggesting that we forget, but am gently offering that we don’t have to hold on to everything.  I believe we find the strength in our healing.   The trees teach us that we must learn to let go, that we can find sweetness in the fall.  My sweet friend, we can be shattered and still rooted to the ground.

 

During this transitional period of your life, what would you like to let fall to the earth? We can let go of people that are no longer parts of our stories, experiences that only remind of us of pain.  We can let go of the beliefs we’ve held on to about ourselves that feel real but are not true.  We can let go of expectations about we are supposed to be be, knowing that we don’t have to be everything for everyone.   We can let go of the messages we’ve created or received about our worth and allow old behaviors to fall away, making room for something new.

We can offer ourselves more time, sunlight, or compassion.  We can be good to ourselves so that one day, we will open our eyes and find that everything is covered in light again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

my dear friend, our favorite season of fall only exists because things change.

you’ve transformed in beautiful and difficult ways; this is your gentle reminder that we can do hard things.

 

on the choices we make

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We each have moments in our lives where we wished we had chosen differently or are unsure of how to proceed.   For me, these moments exist in the mean spirited action I participated in as a junior in college or holding on to relationships that were not meant for me;  in times when thoughtless words were spoken in moments of frustration and in gestures of unkindness to the people that I love.  We get so busy, tired, and hyper-focused on our problems that we act out of habit or automaticity and engage in actions before recognizing our choice.  If we stopped for a moment, we might observe our tendency to make decisions based on the way we feel and the incessant thoughts running through our minds rather than from the place in our hearts that are the truest expression of who we are.

Maybe for you, that moment existed today, yesterday, or last year. Or maybe it hasn’t happened yet; perhaps it’s a decision you are contemplating but have not decided on, a fork in the road between the person you are capable of being and a decision that is easy, convenient, or safe.

This is a simple reminder that our lives are characterized by actions; that every single action or inaction made is the result of a choice.   And all of these choices bear fruit; they have consequences, slowly shape the story of our lives, and plant seeds that will eventually take root. Take a moment and think about the hundreds of small choices wrapped up in all the minutes of the day… when you choose to go to sleep, who lays beside you, and whether or not you push the snooze button in the morning.  There are choices in whether you wake up to a moment of gratitude or three cups of coffee, extra sugar.  Choices exist in the words we speak, how we express our emotions, and the kinds of people we allow into our lives.  The people we let stay and the people we let go.  We have choices in what we consume, how we feel, and the way we move our bodies. Choices in the purchases we make, the money we do or do not save, the activities we engage in, and the information we take in through the brightly lit screens on our telephones, computers, televisions, and games.  Decisions also exist in what we choose not to do, like not finishing the degree, not quitting the job, or establishing healthy boundaries for ourselves.  You can decide to quiet your voice or shout from the top of your lungs, to pause, or to constantly move from one place of busyness to the next.  Maybe you routinely make the decision to treat yourself with less love and kindness than you deserve.

This is my encouragement to choose to respond to whatever challenge you are facing with your highest self.  With the part of you that can look beyond the immediate situation and shift to a larger perspective.  This is a reminder that we can choose to show up in every situation with the parts of ourselves that are calm, compassionate, honest, wise, and healthy.  And on some days and in some moments you might be able to rationalize your actions even when the deepest part of yourself knows you are wrong.  Maybe you’re frustrated and justified in your anger, but you still have the choice to let go of that hurt.  You still have the choice to move on, to accept what is, and to forgive.  You can take a step in the direction of your goals despite how difficult the journey may be, and no matter how unmotivated you feel; this is a gentle reminder that changes happen in our lives only when we choose to make them.

You’ll encounter situations that break your heart and still you can choose to put the pieces back together, to heal, to love deeply, and trust again.  You’ll meet people who are hurtful and unkind and you can still offer them grace and the light that you are.   And when you can’t offer that, perhaps make the decision to not act.  Your choice is in the inaction, in the pause. You may find situations that challenge you, and you can choose to try, to learn, and to grow.

 

When we choose to act in congruence with the best version of ourselves- with the light and loving kindness that exists within all of us- we slowly start to become all that we already are.

we exist in the depth of our choices.

 

 

our wedding day

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Photo by:  Sean Cook Weddings                                                                                                      Instagram:  @seancookweddings

 

A week ago today, we shared our vows between two trees in the mountains with all of the most important people in our lives standing before us as witnesses.  I know most everyone says this about their wedding day, but it was magical.

Early on, I set an intention to enjoy the process and to maintain perspective- to remember that I wanted to create a marriage that was more beautiful than our wedding.  And so I did my best with infusing each step of the planning with love, attention to detail, and a deep appreciation for all of the help we received along the way.  I wasn’t always perfect, but I did always try.  July 23rd was an absolute dream that I’m not sure I’ll ever wake from and I’ll take from it more than a genuinely kind husband and a new last name.  I gained an abundance of wisdom I never expected to receive and a re-commitment to celebrate each of my days with the same peace, happiness, and thankfulness  I experienced during our wedding.

And so when people ask about wedding planning advice, I guess all I really have to offer are suggestions about life and things we already know but so easily lose sight of.

Love.

What I know is that love exists in moments.  Nights of staying up too late talking, learning to swing dance,  and falling asleep in buses, trains, subways, and on hard-wood floors.  It’s in monthly budget meetings, cooking dinner at midnight, training for a half-marathon,  and watching thunderstorms from the front porch while sipping on wine.  It’s in those simple, sweet words that get strung together so perfectly that will one day become your vows.    These acts of love are the moments that we will be forever nostalgic for.

And when you choose the person you’re going to spend the rest of your life with,  remember that you’re also choosing the person you eat breakfast with, experience heartaches and growing pains with, and a person who will deeply influence who you become.  You’re choosing a person who will be in all of the memories you have; a person to sing alongside with during road trips, someone you’ll cry in front of when life gets hard, and a person who you’ll sleep in with on lazy Sunday afternoons. You’re choosing a partner who will not only see you during your greatest and weakest moments, but also endure them all with you.

Choose well.  Be with someone who will tell you a corny joke just to make you laugh and who knows when it’s a wine, cheese, and salami kind of day.  You deserve a love that lights up your soul in all of the most beautiful ways and knows all of the deepest places in your heart.  You deserve a love that is centered around kindness, compassion, sincerity, and warmth; a relationship that is tender, giving, and pure.

The best advice I have is to give away all the love you have in heart, on your wedding day and on unsuspecting moments that feel like ordinary life.

 

2. Support

It goes back to love, but take the opportunity to look at every person at the wedding and know that your life story, happiness, and experience in this world has been impacted by all of the warm smiles standing before you.  Place your hand on your heart and recognize all of the beautiful faces that showed up in honor of your love and to celebrate your relationship and new life adventure.   Know that there may not be another chance to have all of your most treasured people eating together in one place, dancing together during one night.  Close your eyes and try to capture it forever.

Notice all of the effort that goes into making not only your wedding, but your life, as memorable as it is and understand that you couldn’t have done this alone.   Be mindful of the time spent by your parents making all of the wedding crafts, the sweet gestures of your new in-laws in planning the rehearsal dinner, your bridal party and their willingness to go offer advice and problem-solve challenges, and your extended family members who give up their vacation and contribute their talents into making your wedding day everything you hoped it would be. Recognize that these are the same people that have been offering you their gifts all along.

As a general rule, surround yourself with the people you would like to be like; be kind to everyone and selective in who you allow to become your greatest support.  The people who will encourage you to take on new adventures  and schedule phone dates with you just so they don’t miss a thing are the ones that will be there on your wedding day and all the days after.  Hold on tight to your relationships with them.

 

And on a different day and in a different setting, look around you.  Feel the happiness that wells  up in your heart when you focus on the gifts you received in this life that come in the forms of  your friends and family members. Focus on the love that brings you all together and gently let go of the rest. I’d like to bottle up all of the love that we were surrounded with on July 23rd  and pass it around to strangers on the street in need of a pick-me-up.  I believe that everyone deserves that kind of everlasting and unconditional love and I know we all bloom like the magnificent flowers we are when we feel loved, supported, and acknowledged.

 

3.  Everything will fall into place

I think it’s natural to hope that our weddings are beautiful and perfect- but I also noticed that from this comes a hyper-focus on attention to detail, perfection, and rigid ideas about how the day will go. I worried about following the schedule, being on time, and whether the wind would blow our centerpieces away.  I worried about whether our moccasins matched the dresses, if the color scheme matched our vision, and whether or not our food would arrive.  But life is always teaching and reteaching me that when I loosen my attachment to expectations of how a situation will play out and focus on being open to the experience, everything unfolds in the most breathtaking way.  I’m still learning that when we turn ordinary situations into emergencies, we get in our own way of the experience. And I’m still being mindful of the tendency to rob ourselves of the happiness and beauty of the moment by infusing it with our stress or worry.

I practiced allowing the day to unfold and fall into place the most on our wedding day and I smile when I realize how perfect it all was.  The interrupted dances, rain on our rehearsal practice, the missing aisle runner, sneaky moonshine, and dipping too soon during our first dance.  And as in life, we may not know it at the time but each moment is what we need, exactly in the way we need it.

 

4.  Focus on what matters

Although countless numbers of hours were spent on creating the most serene venue – from the wooden benches to the handmade wood cut slabs and centerpieces- what I’ll remember most is my dad pointing out family members as we walked down the aisle and my two little cousins carrying the train of my wedding dress behind us.  I’ll remember my mom dancing the night away with us under the star filled sky, sneaking kisses with my groom, and overlooking the mountains at an incredible view.  I’ll replay moments of my bridesmaids sniffling as they heard us share our vows and remember us singing a made-up song to our photographer and watching them sway their hands as my dad and I danced to “My Girl.”

It was easy to get caught up in all of the details- perfecting every last centerpiece and debating over every single hair option, napkin color, and table arrangement.  I’m glad I took the time to consider them and create an enchanting atmosphere, but the day would have been perfect without all of that.  Don’t lose perspective on the love that brought you to this moment and the love that will sustain your marriage.  Don’t get so focused on creating the perfect wedding that you forget to enjoy time with the family and friends that came to share it with you.

There are so many things competing for our attention and so many societal norms demanding our time and money, and in this all, it is our responsibility to choose to spend our energy on enriching our lives.  Be unfaltering in your decision to focus on the things that can’t be easily captured or defined and commit to spending your life using up all of the love that you possess.  And my dear friend, dance- on your wedding day, in your kitchen, and during salsa lessons- even if you don’t know how to. Promise yourself that you won’t leave the dance floor until you’ve convinced yourself that you have all the moves.

 

5.  gratitude

I can’t think about our wedding day and the months, weeks, and days leading up to it without crying.  I attribute the constant flow of tears to my heart being so full with appreciation. Never have I experienced people showing up in the most beautiful and thoughtful ways to make us feel so loved and I will always remember this day as a blessing and a privilege.

Live a life of gratitude, of knowing that you have enough, and let the abundance of it all sustain you during difficult times. And in moments of frustration and differing of opinions, take yourself back to the richness of your relationships, the laughter you have shared, and all of the happiness that has colored your life.   Take a step back from the push towards consumerism and material pleasures and know that these things will never fulfill our greatest needs. Take a deep breath in and fill yourself with deep gratitude of all that is yours; of all the hands that you’ve held, the scars that have healed, the hugs you’ve received, and the knowledge you have gained.

 

I still stay up late at night thinking about the kindness received from strangers and new friends in support of our wedding and the people  in our lives who continue to teach me what it means to be selfless, flexible, and compassionate.  I’m endlessly grateful for a husband who continues to be the best person I know and who always responds in the exact way I need.  I’ll always go back to the conversation we had at 3am on the Thursday before the wedding in which he reminded me to hold on to every moment because they would be so fleeting, where we talked about the intentionality of happiness, and choosing to respond to whatever comes our way with love.  I’m so grateful for every moment, misstep, and wrong turn that became our love story.

 

 

 

 

 

Today was meaningful because sometimes the whole is greater than the sum of it’s parts, and sometimes when it is, you decide to make it last a lifetime by saying ‘I Do.’