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Monthly Archives: October 2015

There’s The Wedding, and Then There’s The Wedding…


There is going to be a wedding.

The question was asked. The answer was given. The status change happened on Social Media. It’s gonna happen. I couldn’t be happier for them. I mean, what isn’t awesome about the opportunity for a stellar day dedicated to a fantastic couple, right? The decor and food, the people and gifts, the love and the toasts and the vows and the dresses and the pictures and…and…

Wait. WHAT?

What was that one word? VOWS? Oh. That’s right. The Vows. The part of the wedding that is, after all, the point of the wedding. The MARRIAGE part of the wedding. Well. There is the wedding, and then there is The Wedding.

Look. I don’t want to get all preachy. I don’t want to be a Debbie Downer. I don’t want to… blah blah blah (cue all the other politically correct sayings that preclude me softening the blow of what I am going to say anyway)… but what I will say is something I wish I had listened to a long time ago. Like 24 years ago, to be exact.

It is this: The Wedding is, first and foremost, a WEDDING of two souls. A blending and a taking on of each other’s lives. So take it seriously. It is a commitment for two people who were (up until this point) just hanging out together and enjoying each other’s company, to become one team.  Like, One Team, One Dream, baby. A well-oiled machine. And that takes commitment, yo. Intention with commitment and time.

Oh.

And before you decide to bring up the “I have to be me/I need my own space” debate, let me stop you right there. It would be pointless to have a clone of yourself, or the other person. Dur. So that’s not what I mean. I am talking about stacking the deck in your favor. When people go from being single to being married, they are forming a different entity. They are merging their lives, their beliefs, their traditions, their finances, their family and friends and habits and CREATING SOMETHING NEW. Something more than they were before. Now listen up. I didn’t say something INSTEAD of what they are. I said something MORE. That means you get to be you, AND you get to have more of what you want. It is an enhancement package. You get to be a team.

That is something to celebrate, for sure.

Now being part of a team means bringing each person’s strengths to the table, so to speak. It is laying out the strengths and weaknesses honestly, and saying, “Look. We have a goal. In order to accomplish this goal, we’re going to need every idea, talent, intuition, and resource we can get, so here is what I have.”  In a marriage, by the way, the goal is to love, learn, grow, and have joy…TOGETHER. To be married because it’s a want-to, not a have-to. So get that “I need me time” crap out of your head right now, because you are automatically assuming you can’t have BOTH personal and married time, and that just sets the expectation that there is never enough. Which is crap.

Kapeesh?

If you can buy in to the wanting to be married, then buy in to the importance of making a marriage a want-to instead of a have-to or a  should. Ya know, “I HAVE-TO be getting home. I SHOULD tell him/her about this. I SHOULD see if I can help. I HAVE TO cook/clean/fix this.” Living in “Should’s and Have-To’s” sucks. Stack the deck, right up front by doing some legwork. So get all of the resources out where you can see them and use them. What do we like to do? What do we not like to do? What will we avoid at all costs? What can we do well without even thinking about it? This would take a meeting, logically. (And if anyone reading this has ever been in a meeting, I need you to quit rolling your eyes. Seriously.)

My husband and I don’t work for the same companies, but we are in meetings constantly. He works with teams a lot. So do I. We both use project-based goals. We both work from home, but work with clients, teammates, and have people we report to. We interact with people both in our home and off-site. There have been large, and I mean LAARRRGGGEE amounts of conference calls, Skype, and in-person meetings between the two of our careers. So please get where I am coming from when I say we have some experience in knowing what makes a pointless or annoying meeting, and what makes a productive, positive, even fun meeting. Basically, it goes like this: A big key to a successful meeting is communication of what roles people play. But an even bigger key is knowing what the point of the meeting is, and sticking to it.

Keeping The Thing The Thing, ya know?

Look, it doesn’t matter who caters the meeting, or where the meeting is, or who runs the meeting. I mean, it makes for a more pleasant meeting to have something to chew on while Bob or Dorkus starts a PowerPoint slide show, and I absolutely pay more attention when my tush is on a cushioned chair instead of a plank of wood or standing in a doorway. But no matter how decadent the setting, if the meeting is not relevant, then my time has been wasted, and so has everyone else’s.

So isn’t it kind of key for two people who want to align their lives, to take some time looking at what is important to each of them? Uh…YA-UHHH! Thus the meeting. The sit-down. The beginning. Anything important and lasting and good takes planning for it, right? A trip. A job. A party. A place to live.

A life.

Alrighty then. Here is where I wish I would have taken this advice. My wedding was my wedding. There were guests. There was a cake and gifts and music and awkwardness and laughter and then…. It was done. I intentionally left out all the describing words because it ended after a day. That part is irrelevant, other than as a memory. Harsh, I know, but the advice I minimized cost me YEARS of frustration, trying to figure out how I could have been taken by surprise when this particular topic came up, or when that particular situation reared its head.

I skipped the legwork.

My husband did not marry the venue. Or the cake. Or my dress. Or the music. But he did marry all of what comes with me. We chose to blend our lives, and that is the good and the bad. The positive and the negative. Which, I am telling you, came as a SHOCK down the line. Now granted, we didn’t live together first. We went from our parent’s homes to our own home, so everything from morning breath and snoring, to attitudes about keeping the house in order, was a new thing.

Those things got worked out, eventually, but there were things that really should have been talked about before we leaped into a committed life together. Things that would have made our lives, and our children’s lives, simpler. Things like…Religion. (GASP!) Life Insurance. (Hand over mouth.) Budgeting. (Ewww.) Parenting Styles. (Well, now that’s just too far.)

Suck it, Propriety.

I regret only a few, few, few things in my life because I deeply feel that the good and bad has made me who I am now, and I worked quite hard to accept and enjoy who I am, but seriously… I would be an idiot not to regret asking the hard questions when it would have made our life easier. We stacked the deck against us in so many ways because of it. I was too enthralled with having a wedding to ponder for long on what the wedding was for. The wedding could have been planned for and executed and thought of later with just as much joy and excitement as it already was, but with a more complete understanding of what to expect, if I had simply spent more time heeding advice to make The Thing the Thing.

The wedding is exciting. The wedding has a lot of magic to it, and should be remembered fondly. But The Wedding Vows… that is a FAN FRIKKIN TASTIC ride. It takes time, and heartaches, and patience and joy and love and loyalty to the team and goal to make it valuable, and it is SO WORTH IT. But for crying out loud, have a meeting first. Take notes. Get some great munchies and a soft place for your butt to go while you do it.

And then….?? Well, then, maybe you both can watch the PowerPoint slide show with the lights dimmed down…

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What Do I Do With What I have?


SALT-DOUGH-CLAY

My mom used to make us kids homemade clay. It was salt dough clay. As a little kid, I would be thrilled to open the twist tie on the little sandwich bag of homemade clay, plopping it out onto the kitchen table and immediately squooshing it into my fingers. It could be red, or yellow, or just plain ‘ol dough-colored, depending on my mother’s ambition that day, and I had no wondering about how she made it. It just showed up sometimes on cold winter days to keep us occupied, and I thought she was magic because 1. SHE COULD JUST….. MAKE!… A TOY HAPPEN, POOF!! and 2. It was ACTUALLY EDIBLE. A FER REALSIES EDIBLE TOY!!!

Cheerios necklaces would have to bump up their game to compete.

OF COURSE, the first time she told us about the clay being edible we were skeptical. But that didn’t stop us from biting into a chunk of it as soon as her back was turned. She knew we would. She counted on us testing it. She told us casually that this was clay that we could even eat, IF WE CHOSE TO. (She said this last bit in a softer, quicker, glossed-over tone that I recognized later as the tone used at the end of a used car commercial.) We ignored the ominous and mysterious tone of those words as she walked away from us and over to the counter.

polaroid cameraShe turned back around with a Polaroid camera just in time to catch our puckered up faces. Which is exactly what I did when I put the foul stuff in my mouth. She pushed the button of the clunky camera just as I took a big bite of the clay and the picture shows a little kid in pig tails making a startling discovery in her mouth. That kid’s nose was wrinkled up, one eye squished shut, and her tongue shoved out of her mouth in an attempt to expel the mushy mess.  It tasted bland and salty and boring. I felt totally ripped off. I assumed that magic would have been better tasting.

I guess Cheerios wasn’t out of a job just yet.

Taste aside, I used the clay and just knew it was there FOR ME. I owned it as soon as it plopped onto the table. It was my blob to use as I saw fit. Sure I would look around, eventually, to see what the other kids had created with their mass, but mostly I was into my own experience and that was enough for me. That clay was the tool I used for my own imagination, and there was no right or wrong way to mold it.

clay snakesIt wasn’t until I got older that I would start to compare my creations with the other blobs around the school tables. I mean, I noticed the clay snakes, and the more advanced snakes that got wound into clay snake-bowls, and, of course, the flat circles with fist prints all over the surface when snake bowls were as far as we could go, creatively. I could admire them a bit. But it wasn’t until elementary school that I would compare my snakes and bowls to the sculptures of elephants and human faces that Jay, the kid on the wobbly stool, would make.

What the?

clay elephant I remember coming to his end of the table and just staring at the miniature elephant and thinking, “Um… Nobody told me THAT was an option or possibility with THIS clay…” It had never occurred for me to use the stuff for anything other than playtime nonsense. Or as a test for my mouth. This dude had taken a toy and transformed it into something that mattered. Something better than what it started out to be.

That was when my mom’s salt dough stopped being a toy, and started becoming a challenge.

My clay bowls stopped being tubes of rolled up clay all wound around on itself, and started emerging with a flattened circle molded up and around just so and… and… that was as far as it went. The sad little bowl would crack on the side as it fell back into a circle, and I would look left and right to see if anyone noticed my failure. They didn’t. They were too busy craning their necks as Jay would create pictures on paper as well. This kid was a genius, clearly.

And then it was time to go out for recess. That trumped all.

Jay had his life, and I had mine. We would pass each other in the halls, or at recess, or in classes, but we simply didn’t have theTrumpet same strengths and talents. Art was merely something I took in school as a class. For him, it became a way of life. I chose the trumpet, instead. That was my dad’s influence as he shared that he had been in a band, once, and, in my imagination, he had traveled the world, practically, so it was my duty and joy to pass on his legacy. Making dad proud got me through some harsh practices and criticism from my band teacher as I started working on my craft. Music became my passion, and between the trumpet, the baritone, and the piano, it still permeates my life today.

So what does that have to do with my mom’s clay?

It’s all about the opportunity. And the work. That lump of salt dough, primitive and simple, opened up a doorway of possibilities. It showed me a way to put my imagination to work, and then see the results in real time. It let me see that, no matter how far down the road I chose to go with my talent and dedication in salt dough sculpture, it was doable to make one thing transform into another, better, thing. That a-ha moment transferred over to baking/cooking (not well, but still). And writing. And tennis. And turning kids, a husband, and a house into a home.

girl-playing-pianoIt transformed my teen years. I was melodramatic, idealistic, and a bit hormone-ee. I would get mad at my siblings a lot. And my mom, for being so mean. She wouldn’t be JUST my friend. She wouldn’t support me in running away to live in a tree-house with my friend. She wouldn’t change with the times. How DARE she be a mom first, not letting me get away with compromising the great for the now! Harrumph!

Middle kid syndrome, and all that.

I would pound out my frustrations on the piano. (Also mom’s fault for giving me the freedom and lessons to play around on those keys whenever I wanted, no matter how loud and repetitive I got.) I would pound and play, and at some point, I reasoned that if Beethoven’s ideas could be turned into song, then nothing was stopping me from using my own imagination to turn teenage angst and passion into writing music that other people could admire. So I started risking. It turned into a joyful outlet. (Also, being over-dramatic helped. Um…helps.)

Now I’m not a world-renowned… anything…, but that’s my choice, as I see it. A chunk of natural ability and affinity obviously helps, in Beethoven’s and Jay’s cases. But the hard work and determination…well…that’s up to them. And to me. I have no idea how far down the road my imagination will take me in different areas, but I’ll never know until I take that possibility of talent out of the plastic baggie. Maybe take that first bite of saltiness and roll it around in my mouth to decide if it is worth working with. Anything is possible, right?

dough-snake Just ask the salt-dough snake.

 
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Posted by on October 12, 2015 in Life

 

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