the goal

Always a bright side…

Posted on March 23, 2009. Filed under: the goal |

I’ve been an Eeyore lately, all doom and gloom about… everything.  Chalk it up to having two months to go before our big day, but I’m feeling panic, denial, and a complete lack of motivation in equal amounts.  With 60-ish days to go, I don’t feel like we’ve accomplished enough, will ever accomplish enough, or even want to accomplish enough!

After much mulling and pondering, though, I’ve remembered that sometimes (usually!) it’s all about the attitude.  It’s so surprisingly easy to forget who you are as you plan a wedding, to lose sight of your priorities and preferences, to revel in the stress because at least that’s an acceptable feeling for a bride.

And me, I’m a “bright side” kind of person.  At least, I am when I’m not making backup plans for worst-case scenarios.

Situation: My guy worked all weekend on a side gig that took up way more time than expected.  After a long and somewhat frantic Sunday, we’re still feeling behind and unrested.

Bright side: He’s feeling good about his ability to make extra money (good money!) and the usefulness of his skills.  I remembered that I need plenty of alone time to be a settled, sane person.  And I’m proud of him.  It may be a bit retro, but I know he can take care of our family if necessary.

Situation: I haven’t finalized our wedding invitations.  They’re close, but still not quite right.

Bright side: Possibilities! Endless possibilities still abound! And I have the opportunity to decide on something that really feels right and “us.”

Situation: I haven’t ordered a bra, and thus, haven’t scheduled a fitting for my dress.  I have found the shoes I will wear, but haven’t purchased them.

Bright side: Good reason to spend some time shopping online.

Situation: We haven’t done much with the trail or ceremony site.

Bright side: We know what we’re going to do and we still have time.  Plus, the greener things get, the less sad and messy they look.  We may pretend that we really did plan a “messy is natural” type of look. 🙂

Situation: The living room paint color isn’t quite right… after three different attempts.

Bright side: Painting is a great upper body workout!  If I ever lose my job, I can probably find work as a painter…?  The paint chip drawer has just about every color by every paint manufacturer; no need to go get them anymore!

Situation: So. Many. Details.  And they’re multiplying like bunnies (or mosquitos)!

Bright side: Never a dull moment.  My brain is nice and busy all the time.

There will be more installments of “there’s always a bright side” as we approach our big day.  Your turn: what’s your bright side today?

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Giving it up to get it back

Posted on November 3, 2008. Filed under: deciding, reality, the goal |

I come from family of strong, independent, self-sufficient women.  Mostly educators — and all well-educated — my people believed in smarts, creativity, and the value of a solid job to protect against the uncertainty of life, losses, and relationships.  I learned their lesson well, choosing a career with transferable skills (IT project management) in a growing industry (healthcare) and graduating from a state school without debt (thanks in large part to scholarships and the aforementioned career’s tuition reimbursement).

Relationships, though, require different skills and lessons.  I’m guessing this is obvious to many of you, but it wasn’t to me.  {This will be a brief interlude into my first marriage, but I promise I’ll come back around to what it means for me now.}  So, without actively trying, I insulated myself and my career in my first marriage.  Essentially, he could do anything he wanted and I would support it as long as it didn’t detract from the “trajectory” of my life.  Move to New York?  Sure!  I can work from there and my company will actually benefit.  Take some time off because you can’t find a job you like?  Absolutely, in fact, I’m pretty sure I suggested it.  Doesn’t affect my career, and I count on my own salary to handle the bills anyway.  When we divorced, all of this worked out very well for me because except for the emotional trauma, my life didn’t change much.  Same job, same opportunities, same apartment, same public life.  I was safe.

Except, of course, that — leaving aside the details and nuances — I think that’s why we didn’t last.  I wasn’t willing to give any of “me” up in exchange for “us.”

Here’s my theory: you have to be willing to give up some of “you” (actually, the thing about you that you most tightly grasp) in order for a relationship to work.  In practice, you might not ever have to go through with it, but you have to be willing… and the other person has to be willing, too.  See, if he has my best interests at heart, and I have his, then balance is restored and all is right with the world.

It first occurred to me not long after we bought the house in which we live together.  We’d been debating (okay, okay, arguing) about which home improvement project should come first, upgrading the kitchen or adding a bathroom.  I was all about the kitchen, and he wanted another bathroom.  No big surprise there, given that I’m the one who cooks.  That discussion did not end well.  Not long after, we had the same debate, but this time I really wanted him to have the extra bathroom and he really wanted me to have a better kitchen, and it was a great discussion.  Same outcome (we put it off because we are SO not at the point where we are ready to take on projects that big), different experiences.

On a much bigger scale, we’ve been talking about our future and a potential move.  As someone who’s lived in four cities in five years and twice as many apartments, I don’t mind moving, and my career is the one that will eventually require it.  I long ago accepted that my children won’t be within shouting distance of my family, and that executives at my company move to where the opportunities are.  The mister, though, loves this city.  He’s lived around Knoxville his whole life and planned to raise his kids here, near his parents.  It’s a scary dilemma and one that was almost a deal breaker when we were dating.  I can’t guarantee that I’ll live in one city for the rest of my life, not without making some difficult career choices*, and he’s uncomfortable with the idea of moving every two years.  We agreed that we would deal with it when the time came, when I was offered a job that was too good to pass up, even though it would mean moving.  Neither of us was particularly happy, but it was enough.

I’m on my way home from my second business trip in two weeks and I’ve had an epiphany.  For this man, for the kids we’ll have together and the life we’ll share, I will make career changes.  To be able to raise our kids near their grandparents, live on our street in our neighborhood with our friends, build memories in our house and on the property where we married… I’ll adapt my career if I have to.

But I’m betting that if that fabulous work opportunity comes up, I won’t have to pass, because he loves me and believes in me and he’d move across the country with me.  I would give it up if it wasn’t right for my family, though, and be happy with the choice.

And all is right with the world.

Your turn.  Did you have to be open to giving something up to make your relationship great?  Do you agree with me that it has to be reciprocal?

* To put this in perspective, I work from home and can probably continue to do that in the foreseeable future as long as I choose my jobs carefully.  I’m lucky in that I have the option to find roles that allow this kind of flexibility, even though it’s not the greatest thing for my productivity or happiness — I get lonely, and the big jobs that help you stay ahead are rarely remote ones.  Staying in Knoxville could mean missing out on some great opportunities for big executive-level jobs.

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The best day of my life?

Posted on August 3, 2008. Filed under: the goal |

I’ll admit, I have little patience for pretense or fuss, and I don’t think that my wedding day should be “the best day of my life.” What a sad thought to spend decades in marriage looking back at the day it all began.

On the other hand, I do want it to matter. I want to feel the awesomeness of the moment as I pledge my life, my future, my love to one single person until I die. In that moment, I want to feel the losses as well as the gains. I want to be aware that I am choosing to never have another first kiss, to sleep with only one man, to be loyal and faithful to one person. I want to knowingly and willingly give up everything I could have for everything I do have. And then, I want to feel the joy of gaining someone else’s loyalty until he dies. I want to want to laugh and run and skip with happiness (happiness I’ve only ever felt with this man). I want to giggle because life’s just so good. And I want to feel the beginning of a new family, of a new life together, of being acknowledged and accepted and ready to move forward as a couple. Not too young, not too fake. Honest.

I thought last night, in the flurry of panicked thoughts, that I want to pledge:

I will be honest, I will be loyal, I will be yours, I will be faithful, I will support you, I will lean on you, I will believe in you, I will believe in us, I will be your proud wife. I will share my people, my life, my love, my pain, my brain, and my heart. I will look forward with you — not back — and I will choose you every day of my life. Together with our god, I ask for help to do and be the best that I can, for you, for us, for our new family.

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I suppose that’s a very difficult simple idea. How much simpler can it get? But then, how do you turn that into a wedding?

Here’s how: it’s a party to celebrate all that you are and who you’ll become, together. You acknowledge your past, celebrate today, and rejoice that the future will bring even more. You ask that your friends and family offer wishes and prayers for the success and joy of your family, and you honor them for helping you get this far.  That’s it.  Everything else is a bonus.

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    I’ve been there, done that, got the t-shirt (and divorce papers) to prove it. Here I am again, pledging my life to my (new) love with eyes wide open (and heart racing) knowing full well how emotionally traumatic this can end… and doing it anyway.


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