Monday, May 25, 2015

Planning a Dream Wedding on a Normal Person's Budget

First came dizzying happiness. Then came frustration. Then, despair.

That’s when the joy of “being engaged” turned into the overwhelming task of “planning of wedding!”

At first, it seemed like we had two options:

-       Have a very, very small wedding or
-       Spend at least $30,000.

I felt like my vision for an affordable, fun, beautiful and unique party had to exist somehow, but I didn’t know where to start.

(Meanwhile, everyone I talked to was asking me, “Did you set a date yet!?” as though I didn’t deserve to call myself “engaged” until we did. Ugh!)

So I spent the next five months researching every hall, hotel, park, gallery, theater, and event space I could think of. And it finally came together. We found a place, set a date, and got to work pulling off our dream wedding – for about a third of the cost of your average wedding.

Here’s some of the ways we made it work. 

The Round Room at The Hyeholde

1. We held our wedding and reception at a restaurant.

My husband wanted to serve amazing food, and I didn’t want to deal with a million vendors. The Hyeholde in Pittsburgh, PA (Moon Township) was exactly what we both wanted.

Many of the venues I researched cost $1,000 - $8,000 (or even more!!) to rent, and then I still needed to rent or bring in chairs, tables, linens, lighting, silverware, serving trays, décor, outhouses (yuck), sound systems, and/or everything else. That sounded expensive and exhausting.

But The Hyeholde had an unbelievably affordable set-up fee and they provided absolutely everything for us. I didn’t feel like a frazzled bride on my wedding day; they made me feel like a princess showing up to her party.

Also, we served a buffet dinner instead of a plated one.

I wasn't sure about this at first, but we saved tons of money, and everyone got to eat as much of whatever they wanted, and it was piping hot and delicious. We heard no complaints. (Also, we had tons of leftovers to take home and freeze, which was awesome!)

And since we got married at the Hyeholde, their amazing and attentive staff still waited on our guests, and made sure no one had an empty glass, ever! They even delivered cocktails to the dance floor.

We got creative with the wording on our invitation.

2. Our invitations were modest but memorable.

I started Googling around, and the first invitation that I fell in love with was $1,200. What?! Seriously. Invitations just get thrown away. We decided to get creative with colors and wording instead.

We contacted a graphic designer on Etsy who designed our custom invitation for $33. We chose a post card RSVP so we could save money on postage and skip the return envelopes. We uploaded the design to Vistaprint. I splurged on beautiful glitter-lined envelopes at Envelope-liners, and I made stickers for the backs. Our total cost to invite 86 guests was just under $300.

Nichole, my friend since third grade, donated my makeover.

3. We included our friends.

We are so lucky to have talented friends who helped us save money. My husband knew our incredibly talented photographer and DJ, and they kindly worked with us on our prices. My parents knew our officiant, and my friend Nichole donated my makeover. She was the perfect artist because she made me feel pretty -- for free! -- and best of all, kept me laughing the whole time!

Looking back, we were really, really lucky to know these amazing people. But what I'm saying is, work your connections!

We collected glass vases for our centerpieces, then sprayed them with gold glitter and put candles inside.

4. We used coupons and recycled items from other people's weddings.

I joined a Facebook group where local brides sell their used wedding stuff, and bought almost everything we needed to make our centerpieces from them. I saved a lot of money, and it was fun meeting happy newlyweds this way. I liked knowing that my wedding decorations had attended another wedding and made another couple happy!

Then I signed up for Michael's daily emails. What I couldn't find used, I got there, one trip (and 40% off coupon) at a time.

5. We threw out everything that didn't matter to us. (We broke rules.)

We didn't hire a limo. We didn't put our rings on a little pillow. We didn't hang "Mr. and Mrs." signs on our chairs.

And you know that Facebook group where local brides try to sell their wedding stuff? I saw a lot of  brides trying to unload a lot of stuff. I realized that lots of traditional wedding accessories quickly turn into clutter. We thought about what details and traditions we really cared about, and opted out of the rest.

6. We took it easy on the flowers.

I love flowers as much as the next girl, but they are freaking expensive and then they die. Deciding not to decorate with flowers freed up tons of money in our budget.

I just held a simple bouquet of carnations, in memory of my grandmother, who loved them. They were a perfect pop of purple, our wedding color, in our photos, and they lasted for almost a month!

Best of all, my brilliant bridesmaid Jessica made alternative bouquets for the bridesmaids. We went shopping for pearls, ribbons, wire, and feathers, and she made these! They were perfect!

7. We made sure to include the things we really, really wanted.

We threw out everything we knew about weddings and made it our party.

We played rock music.

When the reception started, we handed out rings with flashing LED lights.

Everyone got a bag of delicious toasted chestnut creme coffee

The wedding favors were bags of coffee (from Margaret's Fine Imports), which we named "Rock n Roll Roast." 

Our sweetheart table had a purple sequin table cloth from Amazon.


Picking all these little things filled me with absolute joy, and I still love hearing that people enjoyed brewing our coffee.

And -- I desperately wanted a photo booth. So I hired Sweetpix, and they were wonderful. They also gave me a jump drive with all our guests' photos in them, which was better than a guest book (which I opted out of -- see #5, above!)

8. We just had fun.

I admit to my friends that I had my bridezilla meltdown in the beginning--when I wanted a wedding, but didn't know how to pull it off. Once it got rolling, everything went perfectly smoothly. It was the greatest day of my life.

I hope these links can help inspire another bride-to-be to make her wedding her own.

Good luck!

It's your day!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

The Most - Unexpectedly - Perfect Parts of My Wedding

I got married on Saturday. I had the time of my life.  

Of course, the best part was getting to marry my favorite person. But there were so many other awesome surprises that caught me off guard. Whether goofy, sweet, or downright dumb, these are some of the moments that helped make the day an epic event that I will never, ever forget.

(in no particular order…) 

My Bridesmaids and “The Titscrepancy”
Thanks to my amazing friend Chris, I had the wedding dress of my dreams. It was perfect in every way and it fit me like a glove. But I should have taken it off and put it back on again when I realized that my bosom wasn’t exactly lined up with the dress’s bosom. Instead, I didn’t.

When I shimmied into my dress, I was way too excited to notice that anything was wrong. I just wanted to bolt down the aisle and see my groom. It took all of my restraint to stand still for a photo, let alone get undressed and dressed all over again.

So, my bridesmaids spent the rest of the day sweetly hovering around me and squishing my chest into place — a problem that my Maid of Honor hilariously named “The Titscrepancy.” It was a perfect metaphor for my giddiness about the day and the loving attention my girls Madge, Jessica, and Leigh Ann payed me.

And I felt awesome in that dress. 

When My New Husband and I Sang into Each Other’s Faces

My husband Billy and I love each other effortlessly. But, it seemed like the ordeal of the wedding was going to be a bit of an effort for him.

So I was surprised when he told me wanted to have a couple’s dance. The idea of it made me nervous … I couldn’t imagine dancing — on display — while everyone watched us.

But the whole room dissolved when the music started. I didn’t even notice that anyone else was there.

Billy and I danced to Pearl Jam’s “Future Days,” and to my delirious delight, he sang the words to me while we twirled around. And, like I do every time Pearl Jam songs play, I belted out the lyrics right along with him. So we spun, laughed, and sang right into each other’s grinning faces: 

“All my stolen missing parts
I've no need for anymore
I believe
And I believe cause I can see
Our future days
Days of you and me.”

It was exhilarating. And perfect.

No price tags on these vases!
When He Scraped The Price Tags Off All The Vases

But back to the pressure. I didn’t really get many pre-wedding jitters, but Billy did. However, I knew I was marrying the right man when, two days before the wedding, he stayed up late to scrape price tags off the bottoms of at least 50 vases.

Even after he convinced me that no one was going to pick the vases up, turn them over, and see the offending price tags, he kept on scraping. For me.

I love him. 

Watching My Parents Have Fun

My parents are the kindest people you’ll ever meet. They’re thoughtful, gentle, and unassuming people. And they’re not really into weddings, which was nice for me because they never butted into my wedding planning — not once.

I expected my parents to have a nice time at my wedding, but I didn’t expect to see them have a blast. And I think they did. I’ll never forget dancing to The Von Bondies with my mom. She rocks!

When My Maid of Honor Drove My Car
When we left the salon the morning of the wedding, Madge sensed that I was way too hyped up to safely drive my car. So she took the wheel. Then she took me to my wedding, chatting happily about what it’s like to love and live with a creature so wonderfully baffling as a man.

Also, her fabulous coif was so tall, it kept bumping my Camry's ceiling!

When it Smelled Like Teen Spirit
I wanted our wedding to rock. I think it did, thanks to our carefree approach to the day, our awesome DJ Ray, and the fact that our friends let loose and had so much fun with us.

Two of my MOST favorite parts of the wedding were:

When Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” burst out onto the playlist, and our friends flooded the dance floor and bounced up and down to it, mosh-pit style!

And when Pearl Jam’s “Black” started, except it wasn’t Pearl Jam. It was a startlingly authentic rendition by Ten: A Tribute to Pearl Jam, one of my favorite bands long before I married their guitar player. The members of Ten and their beautiful wives joined us on the dance floor, and we swayed and grinned and danced to an utterly perfect moment.

Two people did tell me that our wedding was too loud. 

I replied, “That’s how I wanted it.” 

We Messed Up the Ceremony (a little) 
Okay so we had some minor mistakes. I don't even know why I'm standing on what is traditionally the groom's side.

Actually, I do. It's because I was SO EXCITED, I ran down the stairs and clasped Billy's hands without another thought. I didn't even wait for my dad to catch up! I'd waited my whole life to marry Billy, and I couldn't wait another second.  

And I think the first rule in being a rock & roll bride is not giving a crap about the small stuff. :)

This is no big D!

“This is Not an Issue.”
Our venue, the Hyeholde, was over-the-top perfect. It looks like a castle, nestled into the woods, and the service was amazing. 

This helped when I had my one-and-only bridal meltdown. I woke up in the middle of the night before the wedding, literally trembling, I was so worried about our wedding cookies and making sure no one's contributions would be left out of the spread.

I called and emailed the event manager, worried sick. 

He calmly replied, “Thank you, Jolene. This is not an issue.”

Um. Yup.

It wasn’t.

The Best Compliment I Got All Day
It sure was fun floating around while people told me I was pretty. I got a HUGE kick out of it. (I’m so grateful to my friend Nichole for doing my makeup and making me feel prettier than I’d ever felt in my life!)

But my dear friend Suaz gave me the most meaningful compliment of the day. I only got to spend a moment with her that day. She used our time together to tell me, “You look like you’re really present.” 

It had been my biggest fear that I would glaze over and miss the day in an anxious blur. But I didn’t, and Suaz helped me appreciate that. I can honestly say I relished each and every blissful second of that day. 

All the Love in the Room
This part sounds a little sappy, but it's true.
Our budget  played a part in every single decision we made about the wedding, including the number of guests we could invite. In the end, Billy and I each identified 20 couples, no more, that we could invite.

Although I would have loved to have even more loved ones join us, our number ended up being a pleasantly manageable one. I can honestly say I loved everyone in the room. I never got whisked away to meet my mom's college roommate or other stranger. Every person in that room was special to us, and I swear -- you could feel it.

The Be-All End-All Cookie Table
Okay, so, the first thing you need to know is that cookies are my favorite food. I am madly in love with cookies. The second thing you need to know is that the Cookie Table is a (genius, if you ask me!) Pittsburgh wedding tradition. When a woman gets married in Pittsburgh, her family comes together to make an absurd amount of cookies. The cookies are served at the wedding. It’s also customary to put out bags or boxes so the guests can take home as many cookies as they can carry.

I felt like I’d waited my whole life for a cookie table! But I was worried, because I don’t have a big family and I didn’t know who was going to make enough cookies for 40 couples.

But guess what happened. The wonderful women in my life rallied. Cookies came from far and wide — caramel cups, ladyfingers, peanut butter blossoms, truffles dipped in purple chocolate, little chocolate nests cradling M&M eggs, snowballs, pineapple squares, flaky wafers with lavender icing, mocha cookies, buttery shortbreads, Megan’s mom’s legendary baklava, apricot twists, and so much more. And to my utter shock, our impressive cookie table spilled over, covering an entire baby grand piano, too! Our guests stuffed plates and loaded bags from the most epic cookie table I have ever seen.

My friend Line remarked, “You didn’t have a cookie table. You had a cookie room!”

It was glorious. And to everyone who baked for us, I thank you from my bottom of my heart!

Christy, Kim, Krista, me!, Jessica, and Megan
When it Was Time to Clean Up
I didn’t want the night to end, but I finally agreed that the DJ should play our final song — the same song Pearl Jam closes every show with — “YellowLedbetter.”

As the lights came on and the room emptied out, I looked over and saw my loyal group of girlfriends – the Wolfpack – getting ready to work. Even though their feet ached and they were, let’s face it, plenty drunk, they weren’t about to leave until every last centerpiece was packed up.

Once again, my heart practically burst. I’ll never forget that moment.

I just realized that I could go on and on and on. When my new sister-in-law put my veil in my hair. When my husband and I ate dinner at our sweetheart table, and he had me laughing as usual. When my aunt came into the bridal suite to see my dress. When we kicked off the reception with Joan Jett's "I Love Rock & Roll." I don’t want to forget any of these moments, or any of the people who shared them with me.

My heart bursts. To everyone who made our day so beautiful, thank you.

I love you.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Why I'm Late Today

I could keep an entire blog on the stupid — but real — reasons why I am late for work. Like today. I walked my dog around the block, but he determined that he could not find a suitable place to poop. Instead of pooping, he planted his feet and stubbornly insisted that I walk him around a different block. This in itself did not make me late. What made me late is the fact that I yelled at him, which only confused and worried him, and so I spent the rest of the morning being overcompensatingly nice to him. That is what slowed me down.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Every Crazy Wish Come True

I wouldn't have dared wish for the fiancé I actually got. I would have sounded like a crazy person.

If I had made out my wish list, it would have read like this:

"I wish for a man who's handsome. And I mean that in an Eddie Vedder sort of way … you know, long, curly brown hair, blue eyes and high cheekbones. He should look strong, and wear a beard very, very well.

Please make him a musician, who likes Pearl Jam. Actually, can you put him in a touring Pearl Jam tribute band, so I can go from city to city with him and sing along to all the songs? That sounds really, really fun. Thanks.

And can he be smart -- smart enough to give me advice, but gentle enough to deliver it the way I need to hear it? Make sure he can call me out when I need it, but not in a way that hurts my feelings. This is tricky but critical.

Can he be funny, too? I'd like to laugh a lot.

And a good kisser. Mmm. Definitely.

This is important: please make him like animals. He has to be compassionate -- with an extra soft spot for Beagles, since I have one who needs lots of love.

Speaking of extra love, please make sure he's affectionate, and extremely attentive, because no man has ever been able to give me as much love as I require.

Can he smell good? Whether fresh from the shower or salty and slick from a night onstage, please make him delicious.

And I hope he likes coffee, and sleeping in on Sundays. I hope he's a good cook, and that he always offers to bring me a glass of water when I'm laying on the couch feeling thirsty. I hope he likes dancing in the kitchen.

I wish for him to be hard-working but also silly.

And I want him to value a really good meal.

I wish for him to understand Seinfeld references, and I wish for him to be nice.

And I wish for him to love me too."

Is that too much to ask?

Apparently, to my utter surprise, it wasn't.

Because I found him.

I will never let him go.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

There's a Hair in My Toothbrush, and Other Thoughts on Living Together

It happened again this morning. But this time, I noticed just before I stuck it in my mouth.

One of my fiancé's long, curly hairs was entwined within the bristles of my toothbrush.

I have no idea why that keeps happening.

First of all, let me point out that Billy has extraordinary hair. It's one of my favorite things about him.

Billy and his mane. Fantastic!

But between the two of us, we can leave a lot of long hair around. I can't tell you how many times I've started gagging, only to pull out my toothbrush mid-brush and find one of his gorgeous hairs wrapped nauseatingly around in it. 

I've noticed some other things since he moved in five months ago, ranging from blissful to bizarre. 

Here goes:
  • Good: Living with the right person is just great. Every day when I wake up, my favorite person is there. It's like waking up during a really good vacation, and thinking, "Oh boy! A new day!"
  • Also good: After living alone for so long, I can't believe how much easier life is with a second set of hands. I love when I come home and discover that chores got done while I was out. Amazing! Now I can see why primitive peoples came together. Division of labor is a wonderful thing. (And necessary, because twice the number of showers and dirty dishes makes twice the dirt.)
  • Bad: Forget about any sense of mystery. Every experience is now shared. Even when you have to puke. :(
  • Fantastic: There's a good side effect to breaking down those barriers. It made me feel more more secure. For example, it's been 22 years since I've been comfortable enough to leave my house without makeup. There was a time when I couldn't even bring myself to check my mail without at least a smudge of eyeliner. But Billy knows what I really look like … and if he thinks I'm cute enough to go out to breakfast with, I don't mind rolling out of bed and going for pancakes, as-is.
  • Not so good: In addition to discovering your partner's quirks, you might realize that you have some, too. Apparently, my whole life, I've been scraping my teeth on my forks. I did not even know that was a thing.  I thought I was just eating. Now I know. (I'm still not sure what's so bad about it, though.)
  • Important consideration: If you're going to live with someone, you should definitely like the way they smell. I've had trouble with roommates' personal smells in the past. Lucky for me, Billy's smell is the perfect combination of clean and rugged. When he opens the bathroom door after a shower, our whole apartment fills with this manly smell that makes me want to kiss him, hard.
  • Definitely bad: Your craziness has an audience, always. As a single girl, I would sometimes recognize days in which I should not interact with others. On those days, I would pour myself a glass of wine, sit in a hot bath, then put myself to bed. Now my crazy days are Billy's problem. (Which is why you should definitely live with someone who can make you laugh at yourself.)
  • But when all else fails: You can  dance! I think this is the best thing we've got going together. Any worry can usually be put into perspective by knowing you have someone to dance around the dining room table with. 
And if you can find yourself a musician who plays pretty songs on his guitar all night, you're really in for a treat.

Pros and cons and toothbrush hairs and all, I think I'll keep him. 

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Love is What I Got

Tonight, during a conversation that briefly brought up exes, Billy told me:

"It took me less than a year to realize that I wanted to marry you. Actually, I think it took less than three dates. I knew that quickly that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with you. Whether you wanted me to or not."

My family

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Single-Shaming and the Unmarried 30-Something

When you’re female, over 30, and unmarried, being single becomes part of your personality. At least, according to other people.

Strangers make assumptions about you – some worse than others. They might decide that you’re not ready to leave your adolescence behind. (You’re immature.) You can’t settle down with another person. (You’re selfish.) Or maybe you can’t find anyone who will date you. (You’re crazy.)

Especially if you like cats.

This is my cat.

By the time I was 32, I started making jokes about my spinsterhood. I did it to cut people off at the pass. If the topic of my being unmarried came up, which it too often did, I didn’t want to look like I was sad about it. Instead, I made jokes about being undomesticated and proud.

But somehow, my being single was a topic that everyone seemed to have an opinion about.

A younger woman asked me why I didn’t just marry my boyfriend. I didn’t tell her that it was because I suspected he was lying to me. (He was.) A man I worked with stopped into my office after every holiday and coyly asked to see my ring finger. “Do you seriously think people get engaged for EASTER? I demanded, the last time he did it.

But the worst instance of single-shaming came the day before my 33rd birthday.

I had to work late to attend a meeting. During that meeting, I volunteered a suggestion … helpfully, I hoped, and in complete earnest.

But my boss used that moment to shame me. I guess she thought my suggestion was strange, or less relevant than I thought it was. So in front of our Board members, my peers, and the staff who reported to me, she joked,

“And that’s why you’re still single.”

I felt myself deflate. Her words stung like a slap across my face. I sat there, shocked, angry, and embarrassed, and waited two hours for the meeting to end so I could slip away. I went home to my empty apartment. 

My boss had no idea why I was 32 and still single. It wasn’t because I couldn’t get a date, or because I was picky (as she would later claim that she’d meant). It certainly wasn’t due to any lack of trying to find someone who would love me.

I was constantly trying not to be single. Growing up, I took it for granted that I’d fall in love and get married. But instead, I met guys at bars, through work, on and OkCupid, and it never worked out. I dated rich guys and poor guys. I tried a long-distance relationship, I lived with a man for a year. I let friends set me up on blind dates. I went out with guys in Mercedes, guys on motorcycles. Younger guys, older guys, dads and drug addicts, artists and accountants. I was trying my hardest.

But I was still single.

The day after that meeting, I turned 33. My mom and our friend planned a nice birthday for me, with lunch, presents, and a walk around a pretty lake. I smiled in the sunshine, but something dark and sinister lurked behind every thought. 

Now you’re 33 and still single.  

As it would turn out, the very next day, everything changed. I met a man who would quickly become my best friend. A blissful year after that, he proposed to me, and soon I'll join the ranks of the married. (I also ditched that job and boss.)

But I feel a greater solidarity with my single sisters than the wives of the world.

Because I know amazing single women who both want and deserve love. Women who are more interesting, creative, and self-assured than plenty of married people that I know. These are women who have used their time alone to take art classes or write books or rescue animals. They teach, they travel, they’ve mastered the delicate art of going to a party by themselves. They may develop rich friendships, or become devoted sisters, daughters, aunts, or even mothers. Or maybe they use their time to read, cook, get strong, or dream. These are some of the world’s greatest women.

There are also plenty of amazing women who don’t want -- or need -- love. Like their more hopeful counterparts, they are becoming more and more awesome while they get better and better at being single. 

So if you encounter a woman and find out that she’s not married, don’t ask her why she doesn’t just fall in love and get married already. 

Ask her what she likes to do. Where to get the best meal or glass of wine in town. If she loves her job. Where she’d like to go on vacation. Ask her what she’s excited about. 

She’s going to have something to say.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

How I Fell So Hard, Part 2

To be brutally honest with you, I always wanted love more than anything else in the world.

But that kind of longing can take a toll on a person. It made me take chances on strangers. It made me give my time and trust to people who didn't deserve it. After a while, it made me feel hopeless, unlovable, and bitter.

The hardest part was that even though I was constantly searching, I was also holding out for someone extraordinary.

I knew that if I found him, he'd have to dazzle me immediately. He'd need to be sharp, and funny, and stand out from everyone else. He'd have to keep me guessing, because nothing turns me off faster than ordinary chatter.

(I hoped he'd be handsome, too.)

And somehow, if I found that man, he'd have to do something to keep from scaring me off.

Thankfully, my friend Jessica saw it from afar -- my perfect match was actually out there. She introduced me to her friend Billy. (See: How I Fell So Hard, Part 1)

Billy is incredibly handsome, and wickedly smart, and I have absolutely no idea what is going to come out of his mouth, ever. But he's also doting, and gentle, and he wears his enormous heart on his sleeve.

And that's why his blue eyes and rock star cool didn't scare me off … because he spent our first date just making sure that I was happy.

And he's spent the past year doing that, too.

But here's the best part.

It was July 5. Billy's band was playing. Everything was exactly as it was a year ago … the guys playing my favorite music at the Hard Rock Cafe, my friends singing along and pulling me to my feet to dance.

But everything was also different. Since that first show last summer, Billy moved in with me. Now, I try to put myself to bed at a responsible time but I always end up lying awake, giggling in the dark at his jokes. I wake up in his arms. I come home to his amazing cooking. I watch him take care of my pets, and I see how happy he makes them. And I learned that even when one of us is being exhausting, the other one will always say something to make it right.

But anyway. The band was playing. They stopped halfway through the show to pull raffle tickets for pairs of tickets for the upcoming Sublime show.

When Billy gave me my raffle ticket in advance, I thought, "I don't want to see Sublime." But low and behold, his friend Brian pulled my number, and I won the second drawing.

And when I went up on stage to collect my winnings, the love of my life got down on one knee … and asked me to (please!) marry him.

Yep. I'll marry him.

And then, the band asked me what I wanted to hear. I picked "Alive."

Since then, a few friends have done really sweet things for us. We've received cards, well wishes, and celebratory dinners. I feel guilty accepting their congrats. I already got what I always wanted -- a dazzling, talented, kind-hearted man. And a perfect diamond ring too!

All things change.

Let this remain. 


Sunday, April 13, 2014

What's left to figure out

Last night

This morning I woke up in Marietta, Ohio with my very own rock star. 

Then we found exactly the kind of breakfast place I like to find in a small town … one with a counter for side-by-side sitting, good coffee and simple folks.

Breakfast at the "Busy Bee"

My weekend was so perfect, it played out like a fairy tale. It has me thinking.

A year ago at this time, an acquaintance asked me what I wanted my life to look like in six months.

A said voice inside my head immediately yelped like a banshee: "I WANT TO LOVE SOMEONE!"

But I didn't say that. Instead, I shrugged and replied, nonchalantly, "I guess I'd like to be a better blogger."

But being single was making me kind of crazy. I had a huge amount of love to put somewhere. It manifested in all kinds of ways -- rescuing animals, worshipping bands, being a devoted friend and daughter. But no one was pushing my hair out of my eyes for me when I rolled over to kiss them on Sunday morning.

Longing for that kind of love was starting to consume my every thought.

Now it's a year later and I'm blessed with a boyfriend who loves as large as I do. It's all encompassing in exactly the way I wanted it to be.

I found it!

So …

Now what do I want?

It's a big, scary question. Not what to I want to buy, or what do I want to have. But what do I want, next, in life?

I know it will involve making him happy, making our life together, and making myself and the people I love happy. It will be about figuring out a life in terms of two.

But what else?

It's very liberating to think about what comes next.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Right this very moment...

At this moment, I am sitting in my gorgeous hotel room in a new city while the love of my life and his band prepare to play downstairs. 

Soon, I'll go downstairs and dance while they play my favorite songs in the world, and afterwards, I'll race back upstairs to sink into our bed and his arms. And even though I'll have spent the whole night watching and adoring him, he will make me feel like I am the amazing one. 

I am aware -- and appreciative -- of the fact that I am present in a rare window of time. Right now, everything is perfect. I love my boyfriend, and he loves me too. I love my family, and best of all,  they are healthy and happy. I have the cutest dog and cat in the world, the sweetest and funniest friends, a nice place to live, a brand new car, and a job that pays me well to write for non-profits. 

It's as though every box is checked off. 

"Are you happy right now?"
"Strongly agree."

I've been through just enough to understand how how rare and fleeting these moments are. 

And I am so grateful to be right here, right now. For however long this lasts, I will be forever grateful.