To the creators of life, Happy Mother’s Day
We all have an inherent desire to create. In some facet of our lives, we feel called to give part of ourselves in order to produce something new and form something that will continue to live on long after we’re gone. For women in particular, I believe this desire can be especially powerful. Our bodies were actually designed to create. As Mother’s Day draws near, this ability to produce the ultimate creation, a human life, has been on my mind.
I’ve long passed the age my mother was when she had me, the same age my grandmother was when she had my mom. I’ve watched many girls from my middle school, high school, and college days become mothers. And this month, my first close friend to have a baby will give birth. The reality is, motherhood could likely be a part of my life in the next several years.
I imagine motherhood to be an absolutely terrifying yet completely exhilarating experience. As I’ve watched my close friend in her pregnancy, she’s exuded a fantastic sense of peace and a calm confidence. It has made me realize that the body and mind’s innate response to pregnancy and motherhood may be much more powerful than I can fathom until I actually share in that experience myself.
As we head into Mother’s Day weekend and this topic of motherhood continues to hang in the back of my mind, I feel called to connect to that inner creator that’s deeply rooted within us all. It feels impossible for me to imagine producing the ultimate creation, the creation of another life, but for now, I can harness the spirit of that creator in the small things I create until then. This Mother’s Day, I encourage you to take time to connect with the creator in you and honor the creator who gave you life.
Sometimes I find myself longing for the simpler days of yesteryear. The days in the not-so-distant past before smartphones, Snapchat, and streaming services. The days when the most coveted feature on a cell phone was T9 texting. The days when there was no social media, just MySpace. The days when my friends and I strolled the aisles of Blockbuster on a Saturday night. Now I panic when my phone’s out of my peripheral view, I have so many social accounts it takes a minimum of thirty minutes to check them all, and I go to choose a movie on Netflix, give up after ten minutes, and watch the X Files (again). Sometimes, I just want to slow down, stop the sensory overload, and throwback to 2006.
Swap Netflix for a DVD
I know you’ve still got a portion of your DVD collection lying around. Those favorite titles you just couldn’t part with, the ones your ex-boyfriend threatened to destroy in the breakup, the ones now collecting dust on your bookshelf. Instead of scrolling through pages and pages of crime TV shows, movies based on books, and independent dramas on Netflix, narrow your choices to your ten remaining DVDs. If you’re lucky, you’re still holding on to a once-overpriced box set of your favorite TV show, and you can binge watch until your heart’s content.
Swap Spotify for a CD
If you’re like me, you’ve become a playlist junkie – those perfectly curated Spotify Discover Weekly collections make every Monday like Christmas. I know there’s only a slim chance you’ve still got CDs lying around (let’s be honest, CDs were more 2001 than 2006), but when was the last time you played an album from start to finish? Nowadays, listening to an album in the carefully composed order the artist intended has become a lost art. So, even if your CDs are long gone, consider switching your settlings off shuffle, commit to a single album, and start with song #1.
Swap Your Kindle for a Book
DVDs aren’t the only thing burning a hole in your bookshelf. Ever since you got your Kindle, your book collection has become more ornamental than functional. I’m totally old-school when it comes to the debate between books and e-readers, so I don’t need much persuading here. The smell of books alone – whether crisp and new or smudged with the scent of a hundred finger tips – is enough to intoxicate me into turning the pages. Don’t be afraid of compromising the feng shui you’ve created on your bookshelf – pull out one of those titles you once borrowed from a friend and never read but never returned either.
Swap Amazon for a Trip to the Mall
First, I want all the late-twenty-something, early-thirty-something ladies to join me in a moment of silence for trips to the mall. Can’t you just smell the Auntie Annie’s pretzels and free perfume samples? I’m a diehard online shopper – I love price comparing, and I love seeing a little brown box waiting outside my door. But the other day I went to Urban Outfitters to look at an item in person. I had some time to spare, so I allowed myself to wander, to peruse the racks, to pull out a piece of clothing and hold it up to myself in a mirror and an almost visceral feeling came over me – the feeling of how pleasant it is to actually go shopping. While I still tend to stay away from malls at all costs, I urge you to forgo the fifteen bucks you might save with the first-time-shopper discount code, go to a store, and try on some clothes.
Swap a Selfie for a Photo
I’m not the most photogenic gal on the block, so I admit, the ability to look at yourself on the screen while taking a picture was a bit of a game changer for me. However, recently, not one but two of my friends have gotten those new Fuji Instax cameras, known to anyone above the age of twenty-two as a Polaroid. These Polaroid-reboots reminded me of the thrill of rolling the dice when taking a photo – just going for it, hoping you don’t blink or start laughing, yet knowing if you do, it’ll make for a good story when someone asks about the picture later. If you don’t have fifty bucks to drop on one of the new-fangled Polaroids, search your junk drawer for an unfinished disposable camera.
This winter doesn’t quite feel like winter. Temperatures are starting to drop (a little), but snow has yet to fall in New York City. It’s just uncomfortable enough outside to keep us indoors, but I still haven’t gotten to curl up in some of my favorite wool sweaters with a cup of cocoa. Call me crazy, but I’m ready to see Central Park covered in a blanket of white! All of this in-between has given me a case of the (not so) winter blues. If you’re feeling like me, a bit down in the dumps during this remarkably unseasonable winter, keep reading to find out how I plan to kick this funky feeling!
Brighten Your Home or Office with Fresh Flowers
Cooler months can feel a bit lifeless. Only evergreens are in bloom, and there can tend to be gloomy grey tint to the sky. Brightening your home or office with fresh flowers is a great way to stimulate your senses in the winter. The bold colors and beautiful smell will help to warm your surroundings and your mood.
It can be challenging to find motivation to keep moving when it’s brisk and uncomfortable outside. Running or playing sports outdoors becomes difficult or impossible without the right cold weather gear, and it’s oh so easy to indulge in heavy, richer foods in the winter and hide the extra pounds under an oversized sweater. Bleak weather is no excuse to let your body stay stagnant – there are plenty of indoor activities to keep you moving! Join a gym or try a yoga, Pilates, or dance class this winter.
Warn Up with Wine
Nothing will brighten the end of a chilly winter day like a warming glass of wine. Whether you’re sharing a bottle with your co-workers at happy hour, your girlfriend after work, or your partner at home at the end of the day, you can’t go wrong with a great wine in the winter.
Reconnect with Your Girls Over Coffee
When the weather gets bleak, it’s easy to go into hibernation mode. After you get home at the end of the day, kick off your boots, and shed your winter layers, the last thing you want to do is bundle back up, trek into the cold, and get together with friends. It’s essential to stay connected to others, even when there’s a chill in the air. Head to the nearest local coffee shop to reconnect with your girls!
Indulge Your Sweet Tooth
Yes, you may have over-indulged during the holidays, but that doesn’t mean you need to start the New Year with an intense diet that deprives you of dessert. Denying yourself of a little guilty pleasure here and there is a recipe for disaster – the combination of cold and starvation could send you spiraling into a case of the winter blues. This season, remember to indulge your sweet tooth (in moderation).
While I believe that each new day is an opportunity to start fresh, I think each New Year is a particularly poignant time reassess and reinvent. The first of the year is often filled with lofty goals and elaborate ideas for the months to come. I’ve set many intentions for myself in January that never came to fruition by December, but I don’t think this occasion is just a time to make plans you’re never going to keep. I still believe that the New Year is more than that.
In the last few months of 2015, the concept of focusing on the process as opposed to the end goal came up in my life repeatedly. By the third instance, I knew I really needed to pause and take in this notion. What would it be like to devote my attention to the process instead of the end result? As someone who has a very hard time being present and who is constantly thinking ten steps ahead, this sounded like a real challenge.
I began to journal some thoughts for the New Year from this process-based perspective. I immediately found myself concentrating on how I wanted to do things as opposed to what I wanted to do. For example, I want to exude more confidence in myself and my business, and I want to work on more projects that truly interest and inspire me. After establishing how I want to do things differently, the steps toward what I need to do to make them happen began to follow. At first it felt uncomfortable and a little scary to have more subjective ideas for 2016, but a tiny spark in me felt excited about the possibilities this approach could unleash.
As you write down or at least contemplate the inevitable New Year’s resolutions, I challenge you to shift your focus to the process instead of the outcome. Consider how you want to work rather than what you want to work on. Take time to discover the potential you might have in 2016 with this process-based mindset. Happy New Year!
Welcome back to the AOC Wedding series! So far I’ve covered the coveted role of Maid of Honor and the underestimated role of the reader, but what about a role in your friend’s wedding that’s not so easily defined? Maybe your girl is doing something non-traditional. Maybe she’s not having a wedding party, maybe she’s having a destination wedding, or maybe she’s going completely DIY. In today’s modern world (and economy), more and more couples are opting for something outside the box, making your role in their big day equally atypical. In this installment of the AOC Wedding Series, I’ll be sharing my experience of serving as a stylist turned wedding coordinator for one of my girl’s weddings.
My friend had her non-traditional/DIY wedding all mapped out: a bonfire on the beach in lieu of a rehearsal dinner, a ceremony and reception at a friend’s private Hampton’s home, and a Christmas song for their first dance. She knew exactly what she wanted and was ready to take it on all by herself, from baking desserts for the bonfire to visiting a local flower market to compose her own bouquets. Not surprisingly, she had also picked out her dress, but she had casually enlisted me for some styling help in accessorizing herself and selecting dresses for her wedding party. Then, like many other brides who opt for the DIY route, she quickly realized she was in over her head and asked if she could hire me to help her coordinate all the moving parts. The beauty of being a freelancer is the ability to take on random projects like this, so I happily agreed. And that’s how I got a crash course in styling and executing a non-traditional/DIY wedding.
4 MONTHS BEFORE THE DIY WEDDING:
When you and your friend are doing it all, there are a lot of components to research in order for all the pieces of the puzzle to fall into place. Keep in mind factors like price comparing to fit within budget and availability for the desired date and time. Below is a sample list of items to research:
- Food/Drink for Rehearsal Dinner and Reception
- Flowers for Wedding Party and Reception
- Music for Ceremony and Reception
- Décor for Ceremony and Reception
- Hair/Makeup for the Bride
- Rentals for tables, chairs, etc.
- Permits for parking, etc.
3 MONTHS BEFORE THE DIY WEDDING:
Now that you’ve done your research and the bride has made her decisions, it’s time to order, book, and secure all necessary arrangements.
2 MONTHS BEFORE THE DIY WEDDING:
Pause with your girl for a much needed moment of laughter and celebration – don’t forget to head to the registry and get a gift!
1 MONTH BEFORE THE DIY WEDDING:
It’s crunch time! Now’s the time to check in with the bride on what details still need to be finalized. It’s also time to follow up on all the orders and appointments you booked a couple months prior to ensure everything is in place for the big day.
MONTH OF THE DIY WEDDING:
DIY Craft Party
Gather anyone and everyone willing to lend a helping hand at crafting and composing all the DIY décor, playlists, accessories, and so on.
WEEK OF THE DIY WEDDING:
Get the Game Plan in Place
Work with the bride to compose a detailed checklist for yourself and anyone else who has offered to help during the wedding festivities. Make multiple copies and organize them in notebooks or clipboards.
DAY BEFORE THE DIY WEDDING:
Get Your Game Face On
This is it! The fate of your friend’s wedding is in your hands! Get all the goods to the venue, finalize any last minute DIY projects, and ensure you have all the copies of those checklists. Be sure everything is in place before your enjoy the rehearsal dinner (and don’t enjoy it too much!).
DAY OF THE DIY WEDDING:
Breathe! And Be Decisive
Get up early, and find your Zen. Wear comfortable shoes. It’s going to be a long day. There will be hiccups. Be ready to make quick, last-minute decisions. Make the rounds, checking in and coordinating with everyone else who’s helping out. Enjoy the festivities, but don’t forget the tiny details throughout the night – remember to pass out the tips to the vendors before they head out! The bride has trusted you as her right-hand girl – you got this!