Don’t Make Your Life Hard

My excessive emotions really got the best of me this week. Please still by my friend, but I need to confess that I teared up during Grease: Live! Sunday night on Fox. I didn’t want to, but when the cast started hugging one another after the grand finale, I couldn’t help but feel so proud of them that I got misty-eyed. I know what it’s like to work incredibly hard on an exhilarating musical production, then to perform it for the entire world in a 2-3 hour adrenaline rush. Okay, so maybe I don’t know exactly what that feels like, but performing in my local regional theatre a few years ago kind of felt the same way. Almost.

grease live

As a wise man once said, never Jazz Hand and Drive.

If I can’t handle myself during the bows of a musical, just imagine what I’m like during a sad movie or an inspirational fireworks show.

At some point in your life– hopefully sooner than later– you should have a pretty good idea of how you’ll react to certain types of triggers. As you just read, I’m pretty aware that I will be a ball of tears if something is happy and inspiring, or if something is disappointing and sad. I think Kristen Bell said it best when she told Ellen DeGeneres that she needs to be between a 3-7 on the emotional scale, or else she’s crying. The scale goes from 1=very sad to 10=very happy. I completely agree. Though honestly, I might be more in the 3-6 range. I am extremely prone to happy-crying.

kristen bell

This self-awareness should expand beyond just happy and sad tears. Do you have horrible nightmares after scary movies? Does stalking pictures of your ex make you really mad? Does seeing people from high school induce anxiety? Take a good, hard look at yourself and recognize the unwanted emotions that will likely bubble to the surface during particular experiences. Now ask yourself if there’s anything you can do to avoid those types of episodes.

As regular readers know, I often bring up the fact that happiness is a choice. This little mantra applies to so many different topics, it’s astounding. In the case of understanding your natural reactionary tendencies, take some responsibility for your happiness by limiting your exposure to harmful triggers. There are enough emotional challenges thrown your way without your consent or control, so why willingly add to the pile?

Let me give you a personal example of something I could have avoided last week. Because the church in which I grew up really messed with my view of God and Christians (read more about that story HERE), I’ve learned that I shouldn’t expose myself to certain online posts by that organization– and even some of the members themselves. I am still Facebook friends with a handful of the church members, but I have to evaluate what I can handle in my newsfeed without provoking serious anxiety.

I recently scrolled past a recorded sermon by one of the church’s leaders, and clicked on it because he was a pretty good friend of mine back when I was a member. Given that I feel connected and comfortable with God these days, I figured I’d give it a listen and possibly learn something. Unfortunately, I’d forgotten how the cadence and tone of sermons in that church are very distinct, no matter who is preaching or the subject at hand, so I immediately felt tense and even sick to my stomach upon listening. I’m simply not capable of exposing myself to that environment without inducing an unhealthy level of fear, discomfort, and memories of a warped view of God. If I don’t want to feel those things, I need to avoid those types of posts. (I’m speaking from only my experience, not for everyone who has been/is currently in that church. Read the blog post I tagged in the paragraph above to get a better understanding.)

What is something you can control that you know draws out negative feelings? Perhaps it’s time to unfollow celebrities on social media who make you feel inadequate about your appearance. Maybe you should avoid the bars where your ex hangs out. Or if you’re me, don’t watch movies like Marley & Me or The Fault in Our Stars when you are already having a tough week. And don’t read articles about serial killers if you’re already afraid of the dark. Oh, and always keep a snack handy because hunger=hating the world.

Evaluate your emotional tendencies, and curb your behavior to make you less vulnerable to those unwanted feelings. Fascination, social pressures, and curiosity are just not worth it.

Happy-crying doesn’t really bring me down, but I definitely need to rein it in at times…if not for my own mental stability, then at least for the sake of people who wonder why I’m acting so deranged. I hope you can think of a few ways you’d benefit from adjusting your exposure, as well, in order to live a steadier, more peaceful life.

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Filed under General Musings, Life Lessons

9 Tips for Planning a Wedding

Unless you’re brand spankin’ new to Generation grannY– in which case, hello! Welcome!– you probably know I got married this past December. I wasn’t exactly shy about filling my social media feeds, and maybe yours, with updates and pictures during our four month engagement.

Not to toot my own horn or anything, but our wedding was pretty awesome. Despite a very short planning period, most everything went off without a hitch. Feel free to read about some of the details HERE.

I can speak from experience when I say that weddings still remain absolutely whimsical and fascinating even after you’re married. So whether you’re more single than a one dollar bill, in a new relationship, or have been married for a few decades, I think you’ll enjoy this post. And if you’re currently planning your wedding, which applies to about 75% of my friends, then you’ll REALLY enjoy this post.

Here are some friendly pointers to help avoid unnecessary stress or awkward moments on your wedding day:

1. Clearly mark “plus ones” on the invitations

Wedding plus ones are tricky. Where do you draw the line? How do you tell your friend that the guy she met on Tinder last weekend is not worth your $80? What if your cousin shows up with that girl you think he hires just to be his date at family events? I’m telling you right now, it’s amazing how many wedding guests think it’s their own decision whether or not they get to bring a plus one to a wedding. I did not want to deal with awkward questions (or demands), so I specified how many people were invited on the RSVP card. Very few people will mistake “We have reserved 2 seats in your honor” as “Feel free to bring all 6 of your small children.”

wedding RSVP

 

2. Speaking of invitations, don’t trust the post office

I got this delightful “return to sender” envelope exactly four months after I sent it. FOUR MONTHS. Luckily, Aaron and I followed up with each of our guests to make sure they received their invitations, or else a handful of them never would have known they were invited. You’re not being a pain in the butt if you ask someone for their RSVP– you’re ensuring that they know their presence is wanted.

post office fail

 

3. Do a walk through of your reception hall after you finalize the table layout

Our table layout looked fantastic on paper, but my wedding coordinator suggested we go back to the venue and measure things in person the Sunday before the wedding– just to be sure. I was confident that everything was good to go since I trusted our venue had created layouts a million times before, but it’s a good thing we triple checked. As it turned out, our band stage was going to take up the entire dance floor. What was drawn on paper was completely disproportionate in reality. Luckily, we were able to push a few tables closer to the bar and slide the stage into a corner, and everything still looked beautiful. All’s well that ends well, but I was very close to showing up at our reception only to find that we didn’t have a dance floor. (Shout out to my wedding coordinator, Lindsey Hocker with Simply Perfect Events, for saving the day with that one.)

dance floor wedding

 

4. Give very specific information to your vendors

I might be a little Type A, but I gave a down-to-the-minute, personalized schedule to each of my vendors, which included instructions in bold red lettering that were specific to each vendor’s responsibilities. This included certain wording I wanted when the band announced us, how to pronounce names, and exact moments that were important to capture. Hopefully you trust your vendors– and definitely don’t hinder their creativity, but it never hurts to say exactly what you want. Trust me– they want to know!

abby grace

Here we are with our ridiculously amazing photographer, Abby Grace (black dress), and our couple friends who have used/are using her for their weddings, too!

 

5. Don’t expect your trial hair and makeup to look the same on your wedding day

I didn’t do any trial hair and makeup appointments before my wedding, because all of my married friends told me that their hair and makeup looked considerably different on their wedding day than during the test runs. It’s pretty much impossible to duplicate a look, so just brace yourself! If you’re going for a very simple look like I did, my advice is to find really professional, highly-rated beauty vendors that you can trust, and skip the $100 trials. That way, you’re not comparing the day-of look to what you saw in the mirror the first time.

wedding hair

 

6. Test your spray tan

While I don’t believe trial runs are always necessary for hair and makeup, I strongly believe in testing out your spray tan. A great time to try one is for your bachelorette party. Spray tans are very easy to recreate if you like the color they give you, or you can request to go a little lighter or darker on your big day. The most important part of the trial is making sure you’ve found a studio that doesn’t turn you orange, and doesn’t use a formula that will make you look like you have a skin disease when it begins to fade. Not a cute look on your honeymoon. Whatever you do– don’t use a machine. In Virginia Beach, you can get a custom spray tan for $40, which lasts about one week.

Spray tans are weird, yes, but they also trim off about five pounds for the camera, and are a whole lot healthier than baking your skin in the sun or a tanning bed. Even if you don’t want to look super tan, they can give you just enough color that you don’t look translucent in your pictures. I personally loved mine from Sun Buni Brown Custom Airbrush Tans.

spray tan wedding

 

7. Pack a snack

This tip is often talked about, but I’m going to reiterate common knowledge: You’ll be too excited and nervous in the morning to eat very much, and way too distracted at the reception to enjoy the food you so carefully picked from the catering menu. Give your coordinator or Maid of Honor a protein bar to protect with their life until after the ceremony, then quickly scarf it down before pictures. I ate mine in Aaron’s pickup truck on our way to the reception venue for portraits. You’ll thank me for this reminder, I promise.

pick up truck

 

8. Don’t undervalue the honeymoon

When you’re planning, it’s easy to focus all of your energy and money on the wedding day, but if it’s at all possible– make room in the budget for an immediate honeymoon. It doesn’t have to be a two week tour of Europe or an all-inclusive stay at a tropical resort (though ours certainly was the dreamiest of all dreams), but do something.

I can’t begin to express the value in spending serious alone time with your new spouse in the wake of the wedding. It’s tempting to put off the honeymoon a few months to save money and accrue more time off of work, but I promise you that no level of grandeur can compare to the first few days of wedding bliss. If all you can manage is 3-4 days on a limited budget, then by all means, drive to a nearby town, rent a little room at a bed & breakfast, and roll over each morning saying “Hey, husband!”

Aaron and I learned the power of marriage in that one week following our wedding– it truly is different than dating or being engaged. Giving that bond the full attention it deserves in its first few days of life is something that will carry your marriage for a very long time (i.e. forever).

honeymoon blog pic

 

9. Understand the power of your bridal energy

As our premarital counselors reminded me over and over again, the vibe on the wedding day always matches the bride. If she is focused on the love and lifetime commitment– not the tiny details of the event– then guests will, too, be full of joy. If the bride is letting loose on the dance floor, the guests will also boogie the night away. If the bride doesn’t care when something goes wrong, nobody else will notice or care either. On the flip side, if the bride is upset when something veers off course (it will– you can’t avoid it), everyone else will feel tense and awkward. If the bride is drinking too much and gets messy, guests will start getting out of hand, as well. If the bride isn’t smiling, neither will the rest of the crowd.

[Ex: My bustle completely broke after a dancing foot ripped off all the ties. I could’ve let it distract me from dancing, or worried about the condition of my dress, but I was very aware that my reaction would set a tone. Besides, I was too elated with life to mind carrying my train around the rest of the night!]

No pressure, ladies, but basically the entire success of your wedding rides on your shoulders– so mentally prepare yourselves. The good news, though, is that “success” has nothing to do with how pretty your centerpieces are, how nice your hair looks, or the how white your dress is by the end of the night. Success is achieved by spreading the love you feel for your spouse like a lightning bolt that surges through all of your friends and family. That’s the kind of wedding that will not only lift you onto Cloud 9, but inspire everyone in attendance to live a life full of love.

dance floor

broken train wedding

 

Aw, man, I want to do it all again! Still with Aaron, of course. I guess that’s what vow renewals are for!

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Filed under Lists, Relationships

Bachelor Recap: Episode 5, Season 20

Breaking news about the Iowa Caucus interrupted the first five minutes of The Bachelor, and I wasn’t thrilled. If I’d wanted my blood pressure to rise, I would’ve been watching CNN, not a reality dating show. Give me what I want, ABC! And that’s Emily the Twinless Twin trying a tequila shot for the first time, Ben eating a cockroach, and Olivia the News Anchor continuously getting paler as her spray tan fades. Olivia, your true color is showing.

After the talking head finally disappeared, we were shown Olivia tNA saying “Viva Mexico!!” which made me want to pull my hair out. Or hers. Oddly enough, Ben said “Viva Mexico!!” not 30 seconds later, and I thought it was endearing. Well done, editors. You have successfully made everyone hate Olivia for everything she does.

olivia mexico gif

The girls enter Mexico City by way of SUVs instead of limos, and I can tell they aren’t happy about it. There’s no complimentary champagne for the ride, so none of them know what to do with their hands. They shuffle into their penthouse (finally, a little dignity), where Olivia tNA immediately praises the inclusion of a bidet in the bathroom. Thanks for that visual.

All the blondes hop into one another’s laps on the couch to await the first date card, except Olivia tNA, who sits in the lone Lazy Boy chair in the corner. She tells the camera that “there’s no doubt I’m in love with Ben, because he doesn’t validate anyone else the way he validates me.” I don’t think she’d be saying that if she saw the way he “validated” all over JoJo in the helicopter last week, or the way he “validated” Lauren B. in the hot tub. He’s been doing a lot of, uh… “validation.” Nonetheless, Olivia tNA’s gut tells her that she is going to get the first one-on-one this week.

Olivia’s gut is wrong. It is also going to start growing if she doesn’t lay off the snacks we watch her scarf down in every episode.

The one-on-one date goes to Amanda the Mom.

Date card: “Let’s put all our eggs in one basket. — Ben”

Anyone else immediately think he’s alluding to her very fertile eggs? No?

Olivia tNA puts on a terrifying fake-excited face for Amanda before immediately requesting a private confessional to tell the camera that Amanda has kids and is therefore completely undesirable. You just keep digging that grave of yours, chica.

Fast forward a few hours and it’s now 4:19 a.m. in Mexico City. Ben is dressed for the day, and the girls are sound asleep, snoring very loudly. Or maybe that’s just a producer making snoring noises into a microphone. Ben tells the camera that he’s going to wake up all the girls so he can “see them in their element.” At least Ben gets it. These women are definitely “in their element” when they’re doing one of two things: A) Drinking wine, or B) Sleeping. Remember how “exhausted” they were last week?? Sweet sleepy little things.

Ben enters the room with a flashlight and shines it directly in the eyes of each of the girls, who are sleeping two by two in super fluffy beds. Becca pushes the camera out of her face like a pro. She’s done this before when Farmer Chris showed up in the middle of the night, and wants no part of round 2. JoJo grabs her boobs, which is usually my natural reaction, too, when something surprises me. Twinless Twin barely rolls over, and continues cuddling with her teddy bear. You heard me correctly. Her teddy bear. Fetus. Lauren H is hands DOWN the funniest, as she rips out her retainer and is 100% still drunk from the night before.

lauren h

Ben loudly asks “Whose weave is this?” as he pries through the items on their bedside tables. No one claims it.

Ben finally makes his way to Amanda the Mom’s bed, who now has 15 minutes to get ready for their date. She doesn’t need it, because she’s already in full makeup. Her lip gloss is even newly applied, which is my worst nightmare in bed. Whenever I fall asleep in lip gloss, which is not very often (for the record), I wake up feeling like someone just squeegeed all the air out of my mouth. Just me?

Amanda is used to her two children waking her up at 4 in the morning, so she is remarkably bubbly on the car ride to Grassy Knoll #3. As she and Ben walk toward a sea of hot air balloons, I’m afraid Amanda’s off-the-shoulder peasant blouse– a trend which seems to be replacing crop tops– will blow away like JoJo’s almost did last week. Luckily, no gusts of wind cause any trouble, and the only worrisome factor is the fire erupting from the bottom of the balloons. Tie down those sleeves, girlfriend!

Amanda and Ben enjoy a romantic hot air balloon ride with the “pilot” (what does one call a hot air balloon conductor?) and two cameramen, all in one 5×5 box. Intimacy at its finest. Ben has clearly been studying the flash cards producers gave him with random facts about Mexico City, and flawlessly spews out all of his historical knowledge to impress Amanda. “This pyramid is as big as the Great Pyramids in Egypt!” Amanda the Mom is not impressed because her child had a quiz on that same information just last week. Once Ben runs out of facts, he kisses Amanda to pass the time. It seems to go well.

After they land, they tow a picnic basket to the middle of the grassy knoll to have a bite to eat. I can look at nothing except Amanda’s American Eagle jeans, the likes of which I have not seen since freshman year of college. Instead of eating, they vaguely talk about how much they’re excited to get to know each other, but never once ask the other person a question about themselves. Interesting strategy.

Amanda tells the camera that she’s afraid to tell Ben about her divorce, because “it wasn’t a good marriage.” I don’t think that will surprise him, dear. No one who is divorced ever looks back and says “Wow, that was a great marriage.”

Back at the penthouse, Jubilee is losing her marbles about the fact that she isn’t getting as much attention as JoJo, Becca, or Lauren B.  Jubilee, you’re welcome to guest blog for me anytime, because those are my Top 3, too!

Group date card: “Como se dice the way to a man’s heart? –Ben”

Jubilee

Becca

JoJo

Caila

Emily, Twinless Twin

Lauren B

Jennifer (?)

Leah (?)

Olivia tNA

Lauren H the Kindergarten Teacher is the only name not on the card, which means she automatically gets the second one-on-one date. Her reaction is to giddily burrow her head into Leah’s bosom.

Back at the night portion of Ben and Amanda’s date, I’m just starting to get past Amanda’s chipmunk voice. She is given the most consecutive sentences by one person ever to air in Bachelor franchise history, but I’ll admit that the whole spiel was very captivating. She word vomits all about her divorce, her husband cheating, and the embarrassment that accompanies a failed marriage. It was very raw and real, and I respected her honesty. She talked a lot about ignoring red flags, which made me wish she would’ve read the post I wrote about that very subject a few weeks back. I’m here to help, people!

Ben gives Amanda’s shoulders a face-to-face frontal massage as he tells her how much she deserves a great husband and father figure for her kids, then gives her the rose. They kiss a lot. I think she’ll be around for quite some time.

We return from the commercial break to an “artistic” camera shot of a cockroach on a leaf, and I wonder if the cameramen have been breaking into the stash of champagne.

The group date girls clearly consulted each other as they got dressed, and all decided that the uniform of the week would be flowy silk blouses and kimonos. Also worth mentioning is Becca’s half up top knot hairstyle, which was on point.

Emily the Twinless Twin tells the camera that she feels like a new person now that Haley’s gone, and I wonder if it’s because for the first time ever, she has to form complete sentences without help from her other half.

Ben takes the girls into an unsanitary room to take a Spanish class from a man who has clearly never seen The Bachelor, but is going to milk this teaching moment for all it’s worth. The girls learn how to say things like “I love you” and “I’m falling in love with you.” Ben tells the camera that these phrases will help them shop for groceries in Spanish, which is the second half of the date. (??) Olivia tNA says there was “electricitayyyyy” between her and Ben when they were practicing Spanish together in front of the class. I throw some popcorn at the screen.

After class, Ben walks the girls down the street and into a random supermarket. Surprise! The girls will be competing in a cook-off! They’re told to break into teams of 2 to shop for groceries before heading upstairs to a tiny restaurant above the market, where they will cook a dish from a recipe they’re given. Twist: The recipe will be completely in Spanish. Olivia tNA immediately claims Ben as her partner. JoJo and Becca obviously pair up because, duh, they’re BFFs. Lauren B is left standing alone while her default partner, Jubilee, tries to convince Ben to be her partner instead of Olivia’s. He looks at the floor until Olivia claws his arm and forces him to agree that she is his rightful partner. Jubilee sulks away, and I feel like someone should warn Olivia that Jubilee has killed people before.

While the rest of the teams are shopping for their groceries, Olivia and Ben do a tequila shot, then feed each other fried crickets. Olivia looks to be having a mouthgasm as she eats her cricket, which makes sense because she’s obviously such a fan of food in general. Ben looks like he wants to die while he’s eating his cricket, which makes sense because eating bugs is gross.

As the girls like to remind us, Olivia tNA has really bad breath, and they all start giggling when they see Ben dragging Olivia over to the fresh mint section of the grocery store and telling her to eat a leaf. The editing in that scene was impeccable.

While all of this is going on, Lauren H the Kindergarten Teacher and Amanda the Mom are back at the penthouse, drinking red wine from champagne flutes. Thrifty. Lauren H’s date card arrives and says:

Let’s design a life together. –Ben”

The group date is still going strong, with the girls bumping into one another as they burn things in the kitchen. Ben says, “I’m excited to see how the women use different utensils.” I bet you are, Ben.

Most of the girls pretend to enjoy cooking, but Jubilee takes a different approach to proving she has an attractive personality by simply taking her wine glass into a corner to sulk while Lauren B finishes up their concoction. Not a good look, Jubes. Ben is watching.

Becca and JoJo completely embrace the sexual innuendos that come with the recipe they’re given: Tacos. JoJo tells the camera, “My taco tastes really good. Ben even tried my taco.” I want to throw up, but I’m also laughing because she clearly finds this producer-fed comment as absurd as the rest of us do. JoJo chooses to appease the producers, but says the line with all the sarcasm she can muster. She’s definitely ready to be the next Bachelorette.

Jubilee and Lauren B win the cook-off, and their prize is absolutely nothing.

During the night portion of the group date, Ben kisses everyone, Olivia pisses everyone off, and Lauren B remains the one to beat. Ben takes her (Lauren B) out onto the street to make out in front of various doorways and statues. The other girls wonder why they’ve been gone so long, because Ben only took the rest of them to talk on a nearby couch. Frolicking around town was some serious special treatment.

When Ben returns from his Lauren B make out sesh, his high is immediately squashed by Jubilee’s strong need for constant affirmation, which is not a great quality for someone on a dating show. Ben lets her talk for about five minutes before telling her that he doesn’t see a future with her and sends her home. She’ll probably regret wearing red lipstick with a bubblegum pink dress when she watches this episode.

Jubilee’s transition back into reality is swift, as she is forced to climb into a plain old taxi cab that will transport her to the airport.

Ben is pretty torn up about his “break up” with Jubilee, so JoJo pulls him aside to comfort him with her tongue. It works.

Ben is all smiles as he returns to the group with JoJo. I expect him to give her the rose, but instead, he gives it to Olivia. What the literal funk. Everyone freaks out, myself included.

Next up is the one-on-one with Lauren H the Kindergarten Teacher. She wears a peasant blouse/crop top hybrid, which is a creative way to incorporate all aspects of Bachelor date fashion. Speaking of fashion, Ben tries to convince us that Mexico City is known for its fashion, and we all laugh because he’s wearing a “designer outfit” that involves khaki pants.

THE BACHELOR - "Episode 2005" - The first international stop of the season finds Ben and the 11 remaining bachelorettes traveling to Mexico City, one of the largest metropolitan areas in the world. Amanda has a thrillingly romantic one-on-one date with Ben, soaring over ancient ruins in a hot-air balloon. The women will attempt to learn Spanish with Ben but they immediately need to use their new-found knowledge to go shopping for a cooking competition. Lauren H. has a spring in her step as she and Ben walk the runway with top models during for Mexico City's Fashion Week. One heart-wrenching confrontation between Ben and one unhappy bachelorette changes the course of Ben's journey to find love. The women decide to take matters into their own hands and corner Ben about Olivia's bad behavior. Will the Bachelor decide it is time for her to pack her bags? "The Bachelor" airs MONDAY, FEBRUARY 1 (8:00-10:01 p.m. EST) on the ABC Television Network. (ABC/Eniac Martinez) LAUREN H., BEN HIGGINS

Turns out Ben chose Lauren H for this date because she’s the tallest girl in the house, and whoever he took was going to have to model in a fashion show. She is pretty freaked out about modeling, meanwhile Ben takes the runway like he’s been doing it for years. Software Sales Rep or Male Model? We may never know the truth.

The night portion of the date is boring. Ben wants to find out if Lauren H can survive outside the friend zone. She tells him a sad story about breaking up with her boyfriend of four years because he was cheating on her with three other girls, and Ben goes soft (emotionally). The way to this man’s heart is a sob story, no doubt about it. He gives her the rose.

Lauren H: “I’m definitely falling in love with Ben.”

Ben: “I just realized for the first time that Lauren H has boobs.”

Ben and Lauren H finish up the night by making out in the streets of Mexico, and I’m 90% sure Ben is pretending she’s Lauren B.

The rose ceremony cocktail party starts off with Ben nowhere to be seen, and Amanda telling the girls about her kids’ schedules while she’s away. When Amanda explains that her mom and the baby daddy share responsibility, Olivia tNA says “Wow, sounds like an episode of Teen Mom.”

Death stares from all.

Amanda: “I’m sorry, what?”

Olivia repeats herself. I choke on my wine.

Amanda goes full on Mama Chipmunk and tells Olivia that her remarks are offensive, and also by the way I was 22 when I had my first kid.

Emily the Twinless Twin starts crying because Olivia’s insensitive remark reminds her that her twin is back home in day care, as well. She decides to tell Ben about Olivia’s role as Top Villain. Olivia realizes that Emily is blowing her cover, so immediately runs to interrupt her. As she’s climbing the stairs, I can’t help but take note that Olivia may have the flattest butt I have ever seen. Like, ever.

Ben asks Olivia about the vibe among the girls, trying to see if she’ll admit that what Emily was saying has merit, but Olivia just flashes him her 600 teeth and says everything is great.

Amanda, Jen, and Leah all decide to back up Emily by using their one-on-one time to tell Ben about Olivia’s behavior. Usually, the Bachelor possy lets one girl take one for the team when it comes to tattling about the Top Villain, but these girls are an unbreakable squad. Taylor Swift would be proud.

The episode ends with Ben walking up to all of the women sitting on patio furniture, and saying, “Olivia, can I talk to you?”

TO BE CONTINUED… flashes on the screen.

The other girls think he’s going to take away Olivia’s rose. Based on the teasers for next week, I’m going to bet that he doesn’t. Ben clearly has not learned anything from past seasons, and decides to ignore warnings about the Top Villain. Cue waterworks from every single girl, including Lauren B and JoJo– the calmest ones left. Well, besides Becca, who has never shed a tear in her life. The teasers also lead me to believe that somebody Ben really likes decides to leave the show because he won’t “break up” with Olivia. Who will it be?? JoJo? Lauren B? That girl Jen we barely see?

Do you think someone will leave? And will the winner of this season always refer to Ben as “our boyfriend” instead of “my boyfriend”? I have so many questions! Let me know your thoughts.

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Filed under Bachelor Recaps, Entertainment

Generation grannY Makeover

Hey hey, guys!! Generation grannY’s big makeover reveal is heading your way next week! Stay tuned for prettier navigation, and for more pictures like this:

21

Change is scary, but so is too much white space. Get ready!

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Stop Saying “It’s Not That Bad”

Everyone endures hardships. To view a personal challenge as better or worse than those of others is extremely egocentric. Similarly, no experience is worthy or unworthy of eliciting certain emotions. While you may view something as a minor inconvenience, another person might view it as an agonizing struggle– and vice versa. I think we’ve all felt the frustration, confusion, and self-doubt that emerges after admitting to a hard time, only to be met with a lack of understanding. Comparison and disapproval serve no purpose in providing comfort.

Because of the unique individuality that characterizes our species, perspectives and reactions inevitably differ. You’ve heard it before, but I’ll say it again: There’s no such thing as an “appropriate” or “right” way to feel.

One of my best friends (a Guest of Honor at Aaron’s and my wedding) often uses the phrase “All feelings are valid.” Whenever I spout logical reasons for why I “shouldn’t” feel the way I’m feeling, she always simply states, “Your feelings are valid.” As in, “Don’t let outsiders tell you what is ‘normal,’ and don’t suppress how you actually feel just because you think it’s illogical.” How you naturally react to something is valid. It’s acceptable. It’s real, reasonable, and an important part of who you are.

The part that can be advised and guided by others (and by your own discernment) is how you act upon your feelings. Don’t lash out. Don’t wallow. Don’t be unforgiving. Don’t avoid productive confrontation. Don’t forget to lean on your support system. Don’t forget that God loves you. The list of ways we can manage our behavior, which should eventually curb the emotions themselves, is endless. However, we must first recognize that whatever we’re feeling is not “wrong.”

The books Aaron and I read during our premarital counseling addressed this concept in terms of the male mind. My book was titled For Women Only, and Aaron’s book was For Men Only (highly recommended, for any couples out there). In For Women Only, the author explains that men are physical beings. Obviously. But the book really delves into the details and extremities of male wiring that makes it nearly impossible for women to relate. From a Christian’s perspective, we can’t blame our [male] spouse if an attractive woman crosses his path, and his mind suddenly goes to a sexual place. We can, howeverexpect him to not look again, and to immediately, intentionally fill his mind with a different image (understanding it may take a while for him to get the hang of this). Temptation is not sin. Jesus himself was tempted. The important part is what happens after the temptation. Same goes for feelings. Any feeling itself is not wrong. How you address the feeling is what matters.

This blog post is on my heart because of how difficult I’ve found separation from my husband. He is deployed on a ship for two months, so we can only talk every 2-3 weeks…if we’re lucky. Sometimes I don’t hear his voice for longer than that, and I don’t know when these sporadic calls will happen. Other than those sparse conversations, brief emails are our only form of communication. Every single day, my heart feels pain, sadness, and anxiety. I miss him! His absence hasn’t proven to be taxing on our relationship, but it’s definitely been taxing on me.

Apparently, I’m not supposed to feel so worn. From what I’ve been told over and over again, it’s “not that bad” to be separated for nine weeks from someone with whom you’ve chosen to share your life. Who knew?

Nearly every single person who has asked how long Aaron is gone has reacted to “two months” with one of the following retorts:

“Oh, that’s not bad.”

“At least it’s not nine months.”

“Breaks from each other are good.”

At first, these responses made me feel defective. And perplexed. How does the thought of nine months make the reality of two months any easier? Is being apart really “not bad”? Because I wouldn’t say it’s good. Am I supposed to want a break from my husband? Do most married couples not like each other? I’m pretty sure my stepmom really misses my dad when he travels for work…and they’ve been married for 14 years. But maybe I’m oversensitive? Am I one of those people who is too dependent on another person for my happiness? What’s wrong with me??

emotional gif

The first week Aaron was gone, I stayed to myself because I was so tired of people telling me that I shouldn’t be sad. I had quite a few friends try to check in on me, but I ignored their calls to avoid the redundant “words of comfort” that actually made things worse. I knew that I should be stronger. That being honest about my distress would come across unsupportive, when in reality, I am so proud of Aaron. That they would remind me that other military wives have it harder than I do. (DUH.) That they would somehow view my heartache as annoying, unnecessary, and dramatic.

Eventually, the name of my aforementioned Your-Feelings-Are-Valid friend popped up on my neglected, buzzing phone. I almost didn’t answer, but I knew I needed to stop bottling everything up…and who better to consult than someone who has spent the last eight years drilling into my brain that my feelings matter? Within the first two minutes of our conversation, I was already hiccup-crying and apologizing and telling her all the reasons why I knew it was “stupid” to be sad. She said, “Duh, you’re sad, silly. That’s why I called. It’s completely normal that this is hard on you.” For once, I didn’t hear, “Hey now, two months isn’t that bad.” Her simple acknowledgment of my feelings felt like a burst of air into my depleted lungs.

Naturally, this friend helped me think of ways to make the most of my time apart from Aaron, but she never said it was “a good thing” or “not too hard.” She challenged me to react to my emotions a little differently, but she never blamed me for faltering in my weakness.

Any hardship deserves attention and validation. Whether it’s in response to a hurtful comment or a reaction to death, no feeling is inappropriate or unnatural. If you feel it, it’s acceptable.

When my mom died, people– myself included– compared her suffering to that of others. At least it was a 5 month battle, not 5 years. At least I had the chance to say goodbye. At least we had a healthy relationship. At least it didn’t happen when I was a kid. At least I have a loving family and friends to support me. Everyone did a good job telling me that whatever I felt was valid, but looking back, I spent a lot of time internally justifying why my struggle wasn’t so bad.

Yes, worse things have happened, but I still lost my mother. Viewing that loss in a positive, grateful light was and is very important, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t hard, or won’t continue to be hard throughout my life.

By unapologetically acknowledging sorrow over my mom’s death or Aaron’s deployment– without comparing them to what other people face, or how other people might react– I’m able to live in far less pain, which is the whole objective in the first place. Only after I legitimize those struggles am I ready to react in a way that actually helps my happiness level. If I were still in the stage of suppression, frustration with how I feel, or bitterness towards insensitive remarks, all of my reactive energy would be unavailable. Trying to ward off “wrong” emotions completely paralyzes our ability to actually move forward.

Accepting our hardships for what they are is the first step to emotional recovery– and if not recovery, then at least stability. Sweeping things under the rug doesn’t clean up the mess. Neither does trying to convince yourself that the mess is not actually a mess. With that, it’s important to surround yourself with people who validate (not to be confused with “perpetuate”) your feelings. Whether it’s anger, sadness, fear, or regret, all negative emotions are okay to feel. The goal is just to prevent them from overwhelming your life or leading you to poor decisions. Of course we should continually strive to foster peaceful souls with the help of solid friendships, trust in God, and learned wisdom, but by no means should we categorize internal struggles as “right” or “wrong.”

After saying all of that, I should point out that most people have the best of intentions when they tell you something “isn’t that bad,” or if they try to point out all of the reasons you have to be happy. I’ve done it a million times to my friends. So don’t dump those people in your lives and tell them it’s because Shanny the Granny told you to do so. Trust me, they actually want to help and are just trying to get your head in a better place. But my hope is that we can all take it upon ourselves to be the kind of supporters who validate the emotions of others, and therefore truly become useful in helping them walk in confidence, fortitude, and intentional joy. Everyone will fall short of a perfect walk, but those who know it’s normal to fall tend to have an easier time getting back up.

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Filed under General Musings, Relationships

Bachelor Recap: Episode 4, Season 20

I want to start by dedicating this week’s Bachelor Recap to Bachelor #19, Chris Soules, who is kicked in the shins every two minutes this season. Becca, the woman Chris almost proposed to, admitted to having zero investment in that relationship, saying to Ben that “this outcome would be way better.” As in, Becca never had any intention of spending her life in BumEffingNowhere, Iowa. Fair, but harsh, Bec Bec. Also, anyone notice that Ben’s bachelorettes always travel via limos and private jets, while Chris’ girls were ushered around in a YMCA van? Farmer lives matter, too, ABC. No wonder Chris didn’t find love!! How can someone possibly fall in love without castles, penthouses, and leather seating at all times? Chris, our hearts go out to you.

Ben’s well-pampered bachelorettes begin this episode by complaining in unison about how exhausted they are. Honestly, my arms get tired when I’m blowdrying my hair, so I mean– I get it. These girls have to get all dolled up every day just to sit around a mansion and drink champagne. That’s basically what I did on my honeymoon, and let me tell you, standing never felt so tiring.

Right before Chris Harrison enters the mansion to tell the girls they’re going to “the marriage capital of the world,” Caila gives viewers what we want, which is for someone to finally admit that no one can tell the difference between the twins. Thanks for keeping it real, Caila.

The girls all put on their favorite pair of distressed jeans and head to Las Vegas, where they walk down The Strip and annoy people with loud squealing for a while before heading up to their tricked out penthouse. The first date card arrives, and Caila dramatically pulls it out of the envelope without breaking eye contact with the gaggle of women cuddled on the couch in front of her. The girl knows how to work a room.

“JoJo, You set my heart on fire. — Ben”

JoJo makes the bold choice to wear a black choker in her confessional interview where she talks about her excitement for the one-on-one date, and I wonder if she’s too young to be scarred by the plastic tattoo chokers from my childhood. I can never take a choker seriously again.

JoJo meets Ben on a rooftop, where they sip champagne around a cocktail table until a helicopter starts to land, and Ben says his favorite line: “I think our ride is here.” JoJo is super surprised that they’re going to ride in a helicopter, even though she was standing on a helicopter pad this whole time.

As the helicopter descends, it completely blows over the cocktail table and nearly strips JoJo of her lightweight peasant blouse. Champagne glasses go flying, and instead of evacuating the area where broken glass is swirling about in the wind, Ben and JoJo choose to crouch behind the toppled table and make out. Unbeknownst to Ben, all of the other girls can see all of this happening from their penthouse window. They laugh when the table falls over, but immediately run away from the window when they see Ben and JoJo kissing, because they don’t want to feed their crazy. Except Olivia the News Anchor. Olivia stays and watches the whole thing, because her crazy is real hungry.

girls watching

JoJo shows her aggressive side and blatant disregard for fragile equipment by confidently bending the helicopter mic headseats so that she and Ben can comfortably make out. Lauren B could’ve used a little of that gusto on her Snoopy plane ride last week.

Other than that, we don’t get to see any of the day portion of Ben’s date with JoJo because editors wanted to make sure we get plenty of ammunition to hate Olivia. They show her freaking out about seeing Ben kiss JoJo for a solid 10 minutes, saying things like “I love this man,” which was Crazy Ashley’s (from Sean’s season) go-to line. Once someone starts referring to the Bachelor as “this man,” you know it’s going to get bad.

I am disappointed that we don’t get to find out what Ben meant by “You set my heart on fire.” Did they get to burn down an old warehouse together? Did they learn how to use fire batons? Did they go hiking and make out around a daytime bonfire? That date card held so much potential. And I’m sure some junior producer felt extremely jipped that all her hard work in arranging a death-defying date was completely edited out of the episode.

While Ben and JoJo are training fire-breathing dragons, the group date card arrives at the penthouse. It goes to:

Jubileee

Lauren B

Amber

Amanda the Mom

Haley, Twin #2

Emily, Twin #1

Leah (?)

Lauren H the Kindergarten Teacher

Jennifer (boobs)

Rachel (?)

Olivia tNA

Either I missed what the date card said, or they didn’t even bother to tell us because it was even more lame and boring than the rest of them.

Becca is the only name not on the card, which means she automatically gets the second one-on-one date. I also take note that this means Becca and JoJo will be the ones left behind while the rest of the girls go on the group date. They were partners in that weird high school date way back when, and were the only two girls to get no date at all last week. I’m 99% certain they’re BFFs by this point, so I bet they had a phenomenal girls day while the rest of the clan was off making fools of themselves (more on that to come). Ovaries before brovaries!

We finally return to Ben and JoJo, who have already cleaned the ashes out of their hair and are all dressed up for the night portion of their date. I’m in love with JoJo’s black jumpsuit. She chose not to wear her matching black choker, and I kind of already miss it. Their chemistry is pretty rock solid. Ben asks her some questions, but I’m too distracted by him sensually playing with her gold bracelet to listen to her answers. I don’t think he was listening, either.

Ben gives JoJo the rose, and they head to the roof to watch fireworks. I refuse to believe that fireworks are the only interaction they had with fire that day, and if it was, someone really dropped the ball. Ben kisses JoJo’s ear at the same time the girls back at the penthouse are watching the fireworks through the window and saying things like “Ben and JoJo are probably making out right now as they watch these.” How did you know??

Next up is the group date, and I immediately keel over because Caila is wearing her Mother of the Bride glitter shawl again. Maybe it’s like her security blanket? There has to be a good reason for this. The only thing that can distract me from that wardrobe catastrophe is Rachel’s white romper that I *think* had drawings of bugs all over it. This is the first time I’ve ever noticed Rachel, though, so maybe she’s tired of blending in…to which I say, nice work.

The girls are told they’ll be performing “talents” in front of 1,200 people as an opening act for a Las Vegas ventriloquist. Lauren H the Kindergarten Teacher immediately starts talking about wearing nipple tassles, and after her comments about “handling balls” last week, I’m beginning to wonder if she she chose the wrong profession.

Lauren H does not end up wearing nipple tassles, but instead dons a full-body chicken suit and recites Old McDonald Had a Farm. Leah, the blonde we never see, is briefly shown jumping around on a pogo stick. The twins have taken Irish step-dancing classes their whole lives, and perform a delightful routine in German dirndls. Jubilee plays the cello, which is the instrumental equivalent to her personality. Lauren B juggles balls while Lauren H observes in admiration. Caila does a hula dance, and I decide to never eat again. Rachel makes balloon animals, still wearing her bug jumpsuit.

Then there’s Olivia. The producers brilliantly cut out any background music so that everyone can hear all the screeching from an unoiled cake being rolled onto the stage. Olivia pops out of the cake in red lingerie and a feather boa. Perhaps “pops out” is the wrong phrase. “Clambers out” is more accurate. She then puts her hands on her hips and flails her legs in what I think were attempts at “kicks” but make me wonder if she failed the V-sit in fifth grade. Even my flexibility isn’t that bad…and I was once called a “corpse” by a physical therapist.

olivia red feathers

Everyone in the audience, including the T.V. audience, shrinks down in their seats to hide from the awkwardness. Ben can’t hide his secondhand embarrassment as he watches in horror. She finishes her routine by sauntering down to Ben in the audience and giving him a hug, which he reciprocates in the same manor my pastor hugs me. Butt out, plenty of room for Jesus.

Olivia can tell that Ben doesn’t want to be associated with her, and proceeds to perpetuate the frustrating stereotypes about mental disorders by throwing a tantrum, but calling it a “panic attack.” No, Olivia, you’re not having a panic attack. You’re just crying because you know how silly you just made yourself look. News flash: This breakdown isn’t helping.

Olivia decides to redeem herself during the night portion of the date by wearing a pale gray romper that clashes so much with her skin tone that I’m concerned she is legitimately ill.

Night portion in summary: Ben calls Caila a sex panther, Lauren H the Kindergarten Teacher tells the camera that “little Ben” (the ventriloquist puppet) is “bigger than she expected,” and Lauren B remains the front runner based on her natural chemistry with Ben. Ben’s time with Olivia is forced and uncomfortable because Ben has lost interest. Olivia can tell, and finds Ben for a second round of one-on-one time. She tries to interrupt Ben and Emily by hovering nearby, but Ben just ignores her and tells Emily to keep talking. BURN. Olivia then actively inserts herself into the situation, and Ben gives her a painful pity kiss to get her to go away. It works, and Olivia is convinced she’s still the top dog. She’s not.

Group rose goes to Lauren B.

Next is the one-on-one date with Becca. Someone delivers a giant box, which holds a cheap wedding gown that Becca is required to put on before going downstairs into a lobby full of judging onlookers who watch her climb into a pink convertible. Becca hates everything about this because she’s a low key, fashionable person, but she plants on a smile because she knows she signed up for this.

Jubilee for the win by mumbling, “She’s the perfect person to wear white…” because Becca is a virgin.

Becca is transported to a classic Vegas “chapel,” where Ben is waiting in a tux and immediately gets down on one knee. He says “Will you marry…other people with me today?” Before your mind goes to Sister Wives, let me clarify. Ben got ordained so that he can officiate weddings.

They let Becca change out of the wedding dress and put on a cute hippie white dress she brought from home. She stands next to Ben as he marries 40,000 couples, one by one. There were so many. Naturally, I cried because I can’t watch a wedding without bawling. Emotional stability is not my strong suit.

After that, Becca changes into the littlest of all little black dresses, and they drive in Convertible #5 to a junkyard. This junkyard is full of old Vegas electronic signs with missing bulbs that are being “refurbished.” Idk where they go once they’re refurbished, but whatever.

Becca and Ben sit on an uncomfortable-looking bench in the sign graveyard and talk about how much Becca didn’t like Chris when she was on his season. Chin up, Chris!! Then Ben asks her the very mature question, “How do you feel about the fact that I am a Christian who didn’t choose to save himself for marriage, but you did?” She talks about sex being a personal choice, and they discuss God in a comfortable, open way that makes me super proud. He gives her the rose, and I pray she makes it to the Top 4 so she can be the next Bachelorette. Sorry, JoJo.

In a last minute twist, Chris Harrison shows up on the morning of the rose ceremony to tell the girls that Ben wants to spend the day with the twins. The twins are from Las Vegas, so Ben takes them to their mom’s house (where they still live because they’re infants) for an impromptu hometown date. To make a short storyline short, Ben sends Haley home, which is convenient because she’s already there. He and Emily hop in the limo and return to the penthouse. The girls have no idea which twin just walked back through the door.

At the rose ceremony, every single girl wears a tiny sequined dress except Rachel, who wears a floor length red gown. For a second time this episode, I notice her because of something she’s wearing. This time, it’s in a good way.

Olivia morphs into Lace and spends the whole rose ceremony telling Ben that she’s sorry she acted so insecure on the group date because she’s “not insecure,” but her desperate apology only exacerbates the whole “insecurity” thing. She brings him cheesecake as a peace offering, which normally I’d say is a strong move, but it falls flat like her hair. At this point, Olivia starts talking in third person. “Olivia is here to stay.” “Olivia is here for you.” RUN, Ben. RUN.

Other notable happenings are Caila’s return to sex panther status by attacking Ben’s face, Jubilee’s heartfelt side hug from Ben that firmly places her in the friend zone, and viewers getting to hear Jen’s voice for the first time.

Rose ceremony, which happens on top of a precarious glass pool cover:

JoJo, Lauren B, and Becca (my Top 3) already have roses. The rest go to:

Amanda the Mom

Lauren H the Kindergarten Teacher

Jubilee

Emily, Twinless Twin

Caila

Jen

Leah (?)

Olivia tNA

We say goodbye to:

Amber

Rachel

Rachel and her long red dress exit gracefully. Amber takes off her heels and storms away crying, then curls up on a pool chair to vent to the producers she’s known for years since this is her THIRD rodeo. Have you no pride, Amber?

Teasers for next week show Olivia saying Amanda’s life is like “an episode of Teen Mom,” and everyone immediately running to tell Ben that she’s a monster. The end is near for Olivia the News Anchor, guys. Hide yo’ kids. Hide yo’ wife.

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Filed under Bachelor Recaps, Entertainment

7 Unsurprising Things that Happened During Winter Storm Jonas

What’s the weather supposed to be like this weekend?

This was my favorite Facebook status regarding Winter Storm Jonas, written last Thursday by one of my Phi Mu sisters. I “LOL’d” in a literal way. Facebook is nothing but one big weather report, and I observed two things:

1. Everyone owns a cuter winter coat than I do.

2. Snow has been happening forever, yet still completely throws people for a loop.

Side note: I wonder how many people hosted Jonas parties, where they only played songs by the Jonas Brothers. If I had an apartment with more than two rooms, I would have happily organized such an event. Instead, I’m holed up at my parents’ house because adulthood isn’t real.

jonas brothers gif

Jo Bros

 

Just so no one is surprised when winter arrives next year, here are 7 things that happen every time it snows, and definitely happened during Winter Storm Jonas:

1. Apocalyptic behavior

The guy who ghosted you six months ago reemerges with a single vague text message. That friend who never socializes suddenly suggests a “fun” trek to the sports bar. People rush the grocery store because God forbid we die by way of dry cereal. Serious couples and Tinder matches alike “Netflix and chill” like there’s no tomorrow. THIS IS IT. NO REGRETS.

no ragrets

 

2. New Year’s resolutions go straight out the door

Everyone posts pictures of themselves next to a bottle of wine and a troubling spread of dips, casseroles, and baked goods. First of all, don’t act like you don’t veg out exactly like this at least once a week. Second, pull yourself together.

hot dog food gif

 

3. “No Excuses” posts galore

For every post about homemade banana bread, there are two posts about “still fitting in my morning work out.” Because remember, people, a workout doesn’t have any affect on your body whatsoever unless you share it on Facebook. (I don’t know what ever happened to “everything in moderation,” but my Facebook feed is just one big rollercoaster of extremes.)

gym selfie

 

4. Camaraderie

There’s a sense of unity among snow storm “survivors.” Scheduled snow ball fights behind the nation’s capitol. Half price shots of fireball at the bar. House parties with friends and possibly a few strangers. It’s all strangely patriotic. GBA.

america gif

 

5. The West Coast watches in fear

Sweet souls out west think that everyone on the East Coast is hunkered down, freezing, and starving to death, when in reality, the majority of us are having the time of our lives avoiding work. California, you definitely should be more worried about breaking off the United States and floating away than about the puffy white stuff landing in our yards.

everything will be ok gif

 

6. People wear their bathing suits in the snow

Maybe they’re trying to prove they didn’t eat their weight in potatoes during the holidays. Maybe they really enjoy shock value. Maybe they’re still in a rebellious stage. I don’t have a good answer for you. But I can promise that they will show you their shivering bodies on social media, and you will feel a bit awkward seeing that much skin in the winter.

nick uncomfortable gif

 

7. Someone you know will be in Florida

“What storm?” they caption their picture of the beach. I don’t really feel happy for them.

wave gif

 

Nice meeting you, Jonas! Looking forward to when all of these things happen again next year.

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Filed under Lists

Red Flags in Relationships

I’m 95% sure that our A.C./heating units are broken. Correct: No central air. The bedroom is set to 61 degrees, but I woke up last night in a panic, suffocating from the fire that was my own skin, and proceeded to strip off my clothes so fast that you’d think Aaron…well, I won’t go there. My dad reads this blog. Anyway, then there’s the living room, which is set to 77 degrees, but I’m currently on the couch, wrapped in a blanket, wearing wool socks, a sweatshirt, and a heavy scarf. I’m exposing my hands to the elements only so that I can type. You’re welcome.

The problem is that I still haven’t managed to clean our apartment to a point that I’d feel comfortable letting our landlord inside to take a look at the faulty machines. Besides my basic pride that would be crushed by anyone laying eyes on the disaster, our landlord also happens to be my dad’s private Spanish teacher (random, I’m aware), so I don’t want word to get back to him that his hija es muy inmundo. (Dad, if you’re reading this, it’s uh, really not that bad…) If worse comes to worse, I can always throw on my 80lb wedding dress that’s currently draped over some boxes near the window. That should keep me warm. Or maybe I should just continue cleaning…as my mom always said, “If you’re cold, come help me in the kitchen.” Solid advice, which I never, ever took.

So, now that you know everything you need to know about the state of my apartment (exciting stuff), I’m going to tell you everything you need to know about red flags in relationships. Not that I’m an expert or anything, but I do have my fair share of experience pre-Aaron. Plus I just finished lunch with a girlfriend I haven’t seen in a few years, and she told me that her ex-boyfriend, whom she moved halfway across America to be with, cheated on her with a stripper. Come on, pal. At least keep it interesting. A stripper? That’s like cheating with your secretary. Give me a break. [Disclaimer: All cheating is bad, occupations aside.]

cheating gif

As I’ve mentioned before on this blog, my single-days dating strategy was to “cast a wide net.” From age 18-26, I had in the range of 10-15 exclusive “relationships” (title included for only 3) that lasted anywhere from one month to two years. Each one taught me a ton about myself and what I wanted from a significant other– both the good and the bad. I think it’s why I knew so quickly that Aaron was the one.

Many, if not all of you have probably gone through a break up. They’re never fun, whether you’re the instigator or the victim. Even if you both know that “it’s just not right,” you always wish you could have seen the ending coming from the beginning. It would’ve been nice to have been spared the heartbreak, or even simply the time. Learning from and enjoying someone for a while can be great and all, but the real goal is to learn from and enjoy someone without end.

Sometimes it’s not at the very beginning of a relationship, but there is always some sort of opportunity to realize someone isn’t right for you– long before you become totally miserable or indifferent. The easy, happy stages are actually when we ignore red flags the most. This makes sense, given that we’d rather enjoy the high of new attraction than accept concerns that are often abstract, or just “pesky” intuition. After all, no one is perfect, right? This is great on paper, right? Relationships are about compromise, right? This fear of the future is just paranoia, right?

just no gif

With most failed relationships, we can look back and pinpoint all of the reasons it never would have worked in the long run with those people. The person I was *convinced* was “my person” a year before meeting Aaron was a sports junkie (me: go sports, do the thing, win the points), didn’t particularly like the outdoors (um), and couldn’t talk about his feelings to save his life (have you met me..?). He didn’t want me to meet his parents, was always “jokingly” threatening the future of our relationship, and didn’t want to get to know my friends. Naturally I made up good excuses for all of those things, so I was *surprised* when he nonchalantly ended things at a bar “out of the blue” in front of nearly everyone we knew, the night before we were supposed to honor my mother’s memory at a fundraising walk for bladder cancer. Not his finest choice…but I probably could have avoided all of the pain and embarrassment had I not ignored the red flags in favor of my emotions.

I have too many stories similar to the example above, not just from my own life, but from basically every person I know. For instance, many people don’t know that Aaron was engaged almost 9 years ago, but the wedding never came to fruition. For years, he wore rose-colored glasses, even ignoring a memorable twinge of “Why do I kind of wish I could get out of this thing…?” before proposing, but was so invested in what he had pictured for their future that he kept his plans. Over the years, there were ample red flags and warnings from friends and family, but– like so many of us do– he continued to try to make things work. Because of the idealization– similar to when my ex “abruptly” ended things at the bar– Aaron was *surprised* when things culminated with his ex having relations with not one, but two other men while they were on vacation together. That ending was coming a mile away, but relationships are addicting, so we ignore the flags until they slap us across the face. And sometimes we ignore them then, too.

Side note: I checked with Aaron that I could share his story as a lesson for readers, and he agreed. I lerve him.

terrible mistake

Even if things aren’t glaringly obvious like in those examples, red flags can still exist. I remember not being able to visualize someday standing at the altar with my longterm college boyfriend, but I was so set on the idea of marrying him that we just kept going and going until the red flags– you guessed it– slapped us both in the face. Neither of us stabbed each other in the heart with a final low blow, but all the little issues in our relationship eventually washed ashore in one giant wave. We broke up after 2.5 years, he fell in love with someone else less than a month later (to whom he’s now engaged), and I basically grew into a completely different person within a few weeks. (Why I changed so much is a different story for a different time.)

To reference yet another story, one of my best friends was absolutely heartbroken when her live-in boyfriend broke up with her a few years ago. He gave her no warning, refused to talk about his decision at length, and simply stated “something is off.” At the time, she was horribly confused and devastated. Now, she looks back and sees all of the flags that she ignored until he “abruptly” left her. He didn’t have strong preferences or pursuits, while she’s a very engaged, passionate person. His family seemed to disapprove of her ethnicity, so he never wanted to take pictures together. Their general social interests didn’t align. The list goes on and on (as they always do), proving that red flags are always there– no matter how subtle.

Before relationships get messy, we have the choice to listen to the inkling that the person won’t make us happy down the road. Instead, many of us choose to convince ourselves that the heart matters more than the mind, the mind matters more than the heart, red flags are just bumps in the roads, or we need to change in order for things to get better. None of it is true. The mind matters as much as the heart (and vice versa), red flags wave for a reason, and changing is only beneficial when it’s not motivated by getting another person to love you.

Most of us look back at failed relationships with gratitude that they ended. We can see all of the reasons why they were wrong, even if we couldn’t see them at the time. I don’t hold anything against my exes who ended things– even the ones who broke my heart– because, while most of them couldn’t verbalize their reasoning, or perhaps chose the wrong venue, they decided to listen to the red flags. I hope the ones I’ve ended things with feel the same, because we’ll all end up (and some of us already have) with people that make us a whole lot happier, healthier, and able to move through life with far more ease. I mean– come on, how could I end up with someone who doesn’t like wine?? What was I thinking??

yikes gif

Now that I’m in a relationship where red flags simply don’t exist, I can say wholeheartedly that it’s worth waiting for the right person. That’s not to say that there won’t be bumps along the way, but bumps are different from flags…and usually, you can use your friends and family to help you tell the difference.:)

I can’t possibly write this post without providing a little list of red flags. Take a look at them, and remember that just because someone isn’t right for you, doesn’t mean they’re a horrible person (though sometimes they might do horrible things…or have a lot of room to grow when it comes to how they treat people). Instead, it just means you haven’t found the right person yet. Someone who will bring out the best in you…and vice versa. Someone who makes life easy, not tumultuous. Someone who captures your mind, heart, logic, and emotions equally, with careful consideration and respect for your wellbeing.

Red flags:

  1. If one of you has the power (i.e. decides when you see each other, how often, and where your relationship “stands”)
  2. If the thought of forever with them doesn’t sit well with you– with or without good reason
  3. If you constantly make excuses for their behavior
  4. If your friends and family are wary of the person
  5. If you convince yourself that you’re changing to be better, when really you’re changing for them
  6. If you don’t know anything about their spiritual life
  7. If you are never satisfied with them
  8. If you cry or feel frustrated more often than you feel happy
  9. If your happy times with them are like a drug– something you crave and live for (steady happiness is much better, trust me– and it can still be passionate)
  10. If you know you don’t want the same things for your future (family, lifestyles, etc.)
  11. If you don’t miss them very much
  12. If they don’t miss you very much
  13. If their friends aren’t people you respect
  14. If you don’t think they’re gorgeous/handsome (sounds shallow, but attraction is very important)
  15. If you don’t enjoy the same things (at least a majority of things!)
  16. If they don’t like wine.😉

Of course there are exceptions, and some people have experienced things on this list, only to find that the person they are with is the person with whom they’ll be happiest. But in general, let people speak with their actions, and use your gut and your brain. (Usually one is stronger than the other when things aren’t right.)

Finally, let’s all remember that most exes aren’t horrible people. Your chemical makeup just didn’t bring out their best, and vice versa. Sure, some people may have further to go in their journey towards being kind and morally/ethically sound, but we’ve all hurt people and done things we regret. Make the hard, yet wise choice to listen to red flags, but in turn, try not to harbor resentment.

To wrap things up–this was a long one, I know– I want to make it clear that I was the worst at at moving on, and flip-flopped between trying to be too buddy-buddy with exes vs. harboring resentment bred by hurt. But that’s why I have so many stories to offer and advice to give! Take advantage of my mistakes and use this post about red flags as one big white flag– offering peace towards your own soul if you know you need to end something, towards someone who ended things with you, and towards the people who make your ex happier now or made your current partner discontented in the past.white flag gif We all have plenty to offer, and have made plenty of mistakes, so lets pay attention to the red flags, but wave a new, prettier white one.

 

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The Bachelor Recap: Episode 3, Season 20

Another Monday, another night of spandex, aircrafts, and floundering reputations. Let’s start with what we learned this week:

  1. Olivia the News Anchor spent over $40,000 on her Bachelor wardrobe
  2. Ben’s dad had triple bypass surgery right before The Bachelor, and Nazi producers still haven’t let Ben talk to him in “awhile”
  3. Lauren B.’s jean shorts are sewn in steel
  4. Lauren H. has “zero ball-handling skills”
  5. “Awko taco” is apparently a term…one which I will be using regularly from here on out

We begin the evening watching the house divide itself between the Mean Girls and everyone else:

The cast:

Regina George……………………….Olivia tNA

Gretchen Wieners…………………Jami aka Mini Amber

Karen Smith…………………………..Hailey…Emily…?? We’ll go with Twin #2.

Regina and her minons are lounging on a poolside bed while Regina tells them how they should be feeling and they agree. The nice girls, i.e. Amanda the Mom and Lauren B. the Flight Attendant, are a few beds down, discussing why Regina is bad news. I believe the direct quote was, “I just can’t with her.”

Next thing we know, all the girls have changed into neon workout clothes and gathered in the living room so Gretchen Wieners can read the date card.

“Lauren B., The sky’s the limit. — Ben”

These clues get less and less creative with each season. Did they get a new intern? Bad hire.

Lauren B. immediately changes into her cool girl white converses and favorite pair of distressed daisy dukes— and in a shocking twist, does not wear a crop top. The rest of the girls immediately take off their workout tanks so that they’re ready to impress Ben with their colorful sports bras and temporary abs. I say “temporary” because I’d stop eating, too, if I knew I’d be forced to wear skimpy group date outfits on national television. The only girl semi-dressed for Ben’s arrival is Becca, because she’s already done this before and is 12 notches less desperate than her cohorts.

Ben sweeps Lauren B. away in a black Mustang convertible, and somehow her hair still looks perfect upon arrival at the airport. She’s not very impressed with being at an airport because she’s a flight attendant. I like her zero flips attitude. Ben walks her up to Snoopy’s plane, which has been painted yellow with the words “Sky Thrills,” and tells her they’re going to do tricks in the sky. She notes that the airplane only has one propeller, and internally wonders where they stash the snack cart.

Lauren B. and Ben take off and Lauren describes the experience as “calming.” I don’t think that’s what the founder of “Sky Thrills” was going for.

Their Snoopy plane is followed the entire time by a little white plane, which I can only assume is carrying Chris Harrison. Ben can barely hear what Lauren is saying, so instead he tries to kiss her. His lips bounce off of hers at least three times before they make serious contact, which makes me laugh really hard.

bachelor airplane

Their plane flies over the Bachelor Mansion, and producers quickly tell the girls on the ground that Ben and Lauren B. are in the tiny yellow dot flying above them. The girls pretend they figured it out themselves, and start imagining all of the dirty things that Ben and Lauren are probably doing a few thousand feet above the ground. I feel the worst for Caila, whose one on one date involved a trashy liquor store and a hot tub inside of a hot tub store.

Ben and Lauren B. have not totally mastered how to successfully kiss in the sky, but they keep trying until they land in the middle of absolutely nowhere. A lone hot tub sits in a grassy valley, and Lauren B. tries not to laugh as she says, “At this point, I don’t even care how this hot tub got here.” I wonder if it’s the same one Caila and Ben tested out in the hot tub store.

Ben tells Lauren B. to jump on his back for a piggy back ride down to the hot tub, and I tense up in preparation for her jean shorts to split right down the middle. They don’t. Producers magically produce a bikini for Lauren to change into, and she and Ben settle into making out in the hot tub while the cameramen capture expansive shots of golden mountains and raging hormones.

Back at the mansion, Caila tells JoJo that she’s “just now realizing that there are other girls here.” Where in the world did you think you were this whole time, Caila?

Ben and Lauren B. spend the night portion of their date in a random Victorian house, where they have some real conversation about family and values. It’s nice and doesn’t feel forced for once. He gives her the rose. They then go to a “private concert” by another E-list artist. Ben is really into kissing Lauren B., and I am even more convinced that she’s the one to beat. (I called it on the first night.)

Next is the group date with:

Amanda the Mom

Hailey aka Karen Smith, Twin #2

Jennifer

Shushanna 

Leah

Amber

Lauren H

Olivia tNA aka Regina George

Jami aka Gretchen Weiners

Rachel

Lace

Emily, Twin #1

Date card: “Love is the goal.

Seriously?? I can think of a million better soccer puns. How about “Can you handle my balls? Love, Ben”

In the first five minutes of the date, Lauren H. the Kindergarten Teacher takes care of the ball jokes for us by admitting she has “zero ball-handling skills.” Don’t worry, we didn’t think you did. I’m also immediately reminded of last year’s Miss America Pageant when the winner said she “needs to feel Tom Brady’s balls.” I was in the audience, and let me tell you– reliving that moment never gets old.

The girls on the group date reluctantly change out of their beloved Lulu Lemon attire and put on oversized soccer jerseys with volleyball shorts, i.e. spandex underwear. Amanda the Mom tucks in her jersey to make sure her children know that she has on pants.

After practicing their chest bumps (yep, everything you’re imagining), the girls are split into two teams, each captained by a member of the U.S. women’s soccer team/World Cup champion. The winning team gets to go on the night portion of the date, and the losing team has to go back to the mansion. Regina, Gretchen, and Karen are all on the same team, so obviously we know who we’re rooting for from an entertainment perspective.

bachelor soccer 2

Emily, Karen’s twin, puts up a solid fight as goalie against the Mean Girls…especially in comparison to Lace, whose goalie skills are about the same as her dating skills. But in the end, the Mean Girls win. The nice girls mope in their spandex underwear all the way back to the mansion. I wouldn’t be moping if I had that much thigh gap, but these girls are pretty selfish.

Shushanna the Russian immediately retreats to the floor of the bathroom, where we all know she hides her vodka beneath the counter. You do you, girl.

During Part Deux of the group date, Olivia tNA aka Regina immediately begins her mind tricks by stealing Ben away to a hotel room with a balcony overlooking the other girls, and yodels down to them so that they see her before she leads Ben back into the bedroom. Their reactions are what you might expect.

The other girls choose to handle their panic by making fun of Regina’s ugly toes. Twin #2 aka Karen Smith tells the camera that the other girls shouldn’t say such mean things about Regina, and that there’s a 100% chance it’s raining crazy. Upon Regina’s return from the hotel room, Jami aka Gretchen Weiners pulls her aside to tattle. This is their conversation, verbatim:

Gretchen: “The other girls were making fun of your physical appearance when you were gone.”

Regina: “Was it about my calves?”

Gretchen: “Uh..no.”

Regina: “Oh, so my cankles then?”

Gretchen: “No…”

Regina: “What then?”

Gretchen: “Your toes.”

Regina: “My toes…?”

Gretchen: *blank stare*

Welp, now we know that Olivia tNA has some major insecurities. I’d normally feel sad that women are so concerned with tiny “imperfections,” but Olivia is such a pain that instead, my mouth hangs open in amusement that she’s so quickly rattling off all of the things she doesn’t like about herself. Let this be a lesson: Mean girls tend to be the most insecure of all.

Ben gives the group date rose to Amber, because he has zero attraction to anyone on the group date except Regina, but he knows a riot will break out if he gives her yet another group date rose. Amber is the most desperate, so he decides to humor her. She is very humored.

The second one-on-one date goes to Jubilee, which means JoJo and Becca don’t get a date at all this week. I’m pretty sure Ben is punishing them for not knowing where Indiana is on a map.

Jubilee chooses a two piece, high-waisted, all white track suit with heels for her date. When Ben arrives to pick her up, she calls him out for being late, then darts her eyes around the room to make everyone as uncomfortable as possible. This is when Baby Jami aka Gretchen Weiners, says Jubilee is being “Awko taco.” Oh, yes.

We hear a helicopter in the background, and Ben tells Jubilee that their ride has arrived. The helicopter lands in the driveway, and Jubilee says she hates heights, then asks the other girls if anyone else wants to take her date. Every single girl raises her hand. Jubilee doesn’t say anything else before getting on the helicopter in the biggest display of “PSYCH!” in history. The girls freak out, duh.

Ben and Jubilee land at a health spa, where they are greeted with champagne and caviar. Jubilee has never had caviar, and proceeds to spit it out after Ben feeds it to her. Ben laughs hysterically. Everyone at home feels so awko taco that they avert their eyes while she wipes off the crumbs that are stuck to her lip gloss.

This whole date consists of Jubilee crying to Ben about her difficult past, and Ben staring at her like she’s a sick puppy. At dinner, she says she’s the only survivor in her entire family, and that she feels a lot of guilt. Ben nervously asks her why she’s guilty, because he’s just as scared as we are that she killed off her entire bloodline. She does not give him a straight answer, and instead stares at her fingernails, which are filed into pointy weapons. He decides that she’s an onion like Shrek and gives her the rose so that he can slowly peel her layers, both figuratively and literally.

bachelor onion gif

Miss you, Ashley S.

The only other important thing to know about this one-one-one date is that I spent 20 minutes trying to figure out what Jubilee’s chest tattoo says, and all I’ve got is “The Pastry Parade.”

The next morning, Lauren H. the Kindergarten Teacher who can’t handle balls says that she’s shocked Jubilee got a rose on her date because “Ben wants someone who can get along with all the other soccer moms and set up play dates.” Dear God.

We then jump forward ten hours to the feeding frenzy cocktail party. In Ben’s opening speech, he tells the girls that two of his close family friends died in a plane crash the night before. He’s visibly upset, and everyone except Regina wants to comfort him. Instead, she employs her go-to move of immediately stealing him away from the group and proceeds to LITERALLY CRY about how much she hates her cankles. Ben clearly becomes infinitely less attracted to her in that moment, because he’s dealing with death, and she doesn’t once ask him how he’s doing. She instead talks about her oversized calves. How the mighty will fall.

Amanda the Mom saves the day and asks Ben if he’s alright, because she’s a normal person with feelings. Amanda ftw.

Jubilee has already made herself the black sheep of the house, no pun intended– I promise, and further digs her grave by stealing Ben for one-on-one time even though she already has a rose. Not only that, but her one-on-one time consists of her giving Ben a full body massage. The girls absolutely lose it. “First, she was ungrateful for her date and offensively offered it up to the other girls. Then she doesn’t talk to us and is socially awkward. Now, she’s stealing Ben when she already has a rose.” The horror.

Amber decides to confront Jubilee because she wants more air time, and Jubilee is like, “Nah I’m good. Don’t want to talk.” Amber then decides it’s a good idea to get all of the girls who don’t like Jubilee to confront her at the same time. Jubilee’s fight or flight kicks in, and she runs away. She may be an army vet who fought in Afghanistan, but even that can’t prepare her for the Bachelor Mansion. Caila, the nicest person in the house, says what we’re all thinking: “No matter how much you don’t like someone, five on one isn’t a confrontation– it’s an attack.”

Ben looks spent as he climbs the stairs to comfort Jubilee in the bathroom. He tells the camera that he is “responsible for the emotions of the girls in the house.”

Ben, you are but one man. Don’t do that to yourself.

Amber joins Ben and Jubilee in the bathroom to tell Jubilee why all the girls don’t like her. Ben defends Jubilee like an uncle protecting his favorite niece. None of the vibes are good.

Jubilee is certainly unlikable, and definitely has a chip on her shoulder, but she has not surpassed Regina as Top Villain. Let that be on the record.

The night is winding down, and Ben plops down on the couch in between two nice girls. His eyes are glossy from dealing with his legitimate personal struggles, and I feel like he needs a good night’s rest. Not five seconds after Ben sits down, Lace asks him if they can talk. She’s already crying. Ben proves he is the most wonderful man in the world by forcing the words “of course” out of his mouth.

Lace tells him that she needs to work on herself and is going to leave the show. Ben practically pushes her out the door.

Rose ceremony:

Lauren B., Amber, and Jubliee already have roses. The rest go to:

Lauren H.  the Kindergarten Teacher

Amanda the Mom

Becca

Hailey, Twin #2 aka Karen Smith

Emily, Twin #1

Rachel (?)

Caila

JoJo

Jennifer

Leah (?)

Olivia tNA aka Regina George

Going home are:

Jami aka Gretchen Weiners

Shushanna the Russian

Jami goes full on nutcase in her exit interview, but no one is surprised because WWGD (What Would Gretchen Do?).

In the teasers for next week, Ben says he’s taking the girls to Vegas, where “people go to find love.” LOL, Benny. We also get to see Olivia tNA losing her mind at some point, which should be good. I have a feeling that this season is only going to get better each week. See you next Monday!

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The Leyko Wedding: A Tale of Minivans, Corsets, & Hijacked Ubers

I said I would write a post about our wedding, so this is me following through on my word. Take note, 2016 presidential candidates.

I’m going to tackle this wedding review in Question & Answer format, because organization is hard.

View More: http://abbygracephotography.pass.us/leyko-wedding

Q: What time did you start getting ready, and what did you do before the ceremony?

A: I always thought I’d wake up extremely early on my wedding day, like a kid on Christmas morning, but I underestimated Wedding Week Exhaustion. Therefore, I groggily woke up to my alarm at 7:30 a.m. and stayed in bed for about half an hour to read the 500 congratulatory texts I’d already received. Around 8:00, I showered and headed to the hair salon with two of my bridesmaids. Our hair stylist was a wizard, so all three of us were done in 45 minutes flat.

We were back to my parents’ house by 10:00 for makeup and brunch with the rest of the bridal clan. After downing more brie than one should consume on the morning of her wedding, I slipped into my dress, waited for my stepmom to graciously button all 999 buttons, and climbed into my parents’ very fancy minivan, which then took me to the church. You’ll learn during wedding planning that some things are just not worth $350. To me, a limo was one of those things. Throw me in a soccer mom’s dream car with my hilarious family and some show tunes, and I’m livin’ the conjugal dream. A little dog hair never hurt anyone.

View More: http://abbygracephotography.pass.us/leyko-wedding

 

Q: What was your favorite part of the ceremony?

A: Aaron’s vows and communion. Stay tuned– you’ll get to hear the vows on our wedding video, which should show up in my inbox in the next 2-4 weeks. Communion was incredibly special because I felt like Aaron and I got a chance to silently and privately contemplate the depth of our commitment, and dedicate our marriage to God because of His grace.

View More: http://abbygracephotography.pass.us/leyko-wedding

 

Q: Did anything go wrong?

A: The string quartet did not play my bridal music when I walked down the aisle. They were supposed to play Pachelbel’s Canon, but instead repeated the bridal party music (unclear why), which was How Great Thou Art. HGTA is my favorite song, though– and I was too busy staring at Aaron/trying not to cry, so I didn’t care.

wedding blog 7

 

Q: What did you and Aaron do after your ceremony?

A: While guests gathered outside to await the sword arch exit (another favorite part), Aaron and I went into a private room and exclaimed “We’re married!!” over and over. I also took out my contact lens and tried to clean makeup off of it.

View More: http://abbygracephotography.pass.us/leyko-wedding

 

Q: Were you cold during pictures?

A: No, it was 75 degrees in December. Amazing. I did almost pass out, though. I had prepared myself for overexertion and stashed a Nature’s Valley granola bar in Aaron’s pickup truck to eat on the way to take portraits (food=priority), but turns out, hunger was not the primary issue (for once in my life). I only began to feel better once my wedding coordinator undressed me in the parking lot and loosened my corset. Apparently, the corset’s only purpose was to keep me from breathing, since– according to pictures– I looked the EXACT same in my dress during the reception, when my innards were allowed in their rightful places.

I’d also be remiss not to mention The Great Shoe Disintegration of 2015. Aaron’s white uniform shoes were so rotted that they literally started falling to pieces during pictures. He made a trail of white powder and tiny fragments until his right sole was completely nonexistent. Luckily, one of the guys in the sword arch was only half a size larger than Aaron, so he gave Aaron his shoes to wear for the rest of the night. I’m still uncertain what the shoeless man wore on his feet during the reception, but– if you read this, sir– many thanks.

wedding blog 9

 

Q: What was your favorite part of the reception?

A: I cannot possibly choose. I loved eating dinner alone with Aaron at our sweetheart table, overlooking all of our loved ones and seeing what a great time everyone was having. I loved listening to my dad sing, watching Aaron dance with his mom, and laughing/crying during the Best Man/MOH speeches. I couldn’t get enough of dancing with my friends, dancing with Aaron, and soaking in all of the joy. At one point, Aaron and I went into the Bride & Groom suite for a quiet moment to ourselves, which was one of the most beautiful experiences of my life. We expressed to each other how in love we were (are), why we were (are) so grateful, and reminded ourselves that this was IT. It was all happening, right outside those doors. Basically, it was the best night ever.

View More: http://abbygracephotography.pass.us/leyko-wedding

 

Q: Did anything crazy happen?

A: Apparently a blonde girl threw up on the dance floor at the very beginning of the night…but no one could point her out afterwards, and we’ve exhausted the possibilities on the guest list to no avail. Aaron thinks the story is a myth. I think we had a wedding crasher. Oh, also– my Phi Mu sisters lifted me onto their shoulders in an adrenaline-induced act of brute strength. That was pretty nuts, in my book. Especially since my wedding dress alone weighed more than any of the girls who picked me up.

View More: http://abbygracephotography.pass.us/leyko-wedding

 

Q: What is one thing you would have done differently?

A: Honestly, nothing. Everything went weirdly perfectly, and I’m so happy Aaron and I had a short engagement. I got stressed out for about two minutes at the reception when I was overwhelmed by all of the picture-taking, but I had roughly 15 friends immediately recognize my “I need wine” face, and was presented with a smorgasbord of wine glasses at an impressive rate of delivery. They all looked at each other in amusement when they flanked me at the same time with wine in tow. I LOVE MY FRIENDS.

View More: http://abbygracephotography.pass.us/leyko-wedding

 

Q: Did you and Aaron go to the after party?

A: Yep. I highly recommend designating an official after party venue for weddings, because the party kept rolling, and we did not want the night to end. After lots of beer, nachos, and general tomfoolery at our designated bar (open beer tab included– thanks for the amazing deal, O’Leary’s!), Aaron and I stole our friend’s Uber and made our way home. I only knew it was my friend’s Uber car because the driver answered her call on speaker phone, and I recognized her voice saying, “Um…it says you’re here, but I don’t think I see you..” Me: “HI LINDSEY IT’S SHANNON SORRY I STOLE YOUR UBER LOVE YOU THANKS FOR COMING.” Don’t worry, I Venmo’d her the next day.

View More: http://abbygracephotography.pass.us/leyko-wedding

 

Q: What did you and Aaron do when you got home?

lips zipped gif

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