Bring Back The Beach

This past weekend was spent at the lake. We laughed, we (or maybe just me) got scared of dirt roads with too many trees, and we laughed around a fire built on the beach. For a few days, life was so much simpler.

I’m finding that summer is a season where we seek out simplicity. We reach out to the waves in the water as if to say, can I just stay here? Can time stand still and the sunset last a few more minutes?

Because that would be grand. And we could pretend that life is only about lemonade and sand castles.

The obstacle that life presents me with lately is how do I not abandon that calm when I wave “hello again” to Monday. How do I take a little piece of the beach back to my cubicle with me? How do we say, weekend you were good for my soul, but the work week is too? This is all a work in hefty progress for me.

Balance is my struggle this season and I’ve been teetering back and forth for several weeks. I want to throw myself into every project, both personal and professional. But I’m learning that you can only stretch out your soul so far- even your spirit can be stretched too thin.

As summer comes to a close, and ships find their wave back to their docks, I can feel myself in a literal transition. Fall is coming and leaves will soon start to fall. Fresh pumpkins are beginning to grow and apples are getting ready to be picked by ladies in plaid. It’s a beautiful time in the world when the seasons ebb and flow, but there is something about moving into Fall that brings the soul back to a reality of busy schedules and holiday frenzies. I stopped “going back to school” five years ago, but I still find myself at this time picking up new writing utensils and fresh notebooks.  During this return to one of my favorite seasons, I’m making this promise to myself and to you. I’m going to try to keep my balance and place more emphasis on being present over perfect.  I’m going to try and say “yes” when I can do it and “no” when I cannot. It seems so simple right? But for me, and maybe you, my fear of disappointing myself, my to-do list, and the people in my life- is something that keeps me up at night.

We may not be able to stay at the beach but we can try and bring the sand back home with us. The air may be getting cooler and the sun may be setting a little earlier, but I’m going to try to head into this season with a new calm. A calm that says, weekend you were good for my soul, and work week, you are good for my growth.

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I Love You

I haven’t known what to say the past few days except for repeating, I love you.

I love you. I love you. I love you.

Someone once told me that to say nothing is the worst. Silence can grip us, stifle us, and make us surrender faster than any words one can hurl at another human being. Words can fly, while silence can stop any movement forward. Silence freezes you and we cannot be frozen.

I am not a politician. No one is waiting for what “Kristin will have to say” about what has happened to our brothers and sisters in Orlando, Florida. And honestly, this might not even make a difference to anyone but me. And when has that stopped me? Never.

So I want to share some words that have been spinning around my head the past few days. Words that I cannot shake off or calm with prayer.

I have not known peril from falling in love with someone. I have not feared for my life for who I choose to kiss. That’s because no one should. In the recent days I came across this quote and it has stayed with me, resonated with me, in a sense that is not direct nor less meaningful;

If you can’t wrap your head around a bar or club as a sanctuary, you’ve probably never been afraid to hold someone’s hand in public,” said Jeramy Kraatz following the attack on Orlando.

I remember following 9/11 that everyone became a New Yorker. The country stood on the same side of the street and came together. We held hands with one another and we took a stand against anyone who would try to weaken what it means to be an American. We stood up against those who may question the bravery of what it takes to run, with your heart in your throat, into a collapsing building.

And we remembered with respect, prayer, and so much love those who we had lost that day.

Orlando is no different.

I want to wear it on my face that every day I stand with the victims of Orlando, Florida. I support the LGBTQI community.

For every person out there who feels alone and scared, please know, you are not alone. We are holding your hand from miles away. America is going to stand by you.

I once wrote an article about mental illness. I mentioned that if one wanted to see the bravest people to simply walk into a mental health waiting room. There you have your warriors.

And I’d like to retract that statement.

Any person walking through hell, no matter the circumstance, please know I look at you with respect because you are the bravest. You are a warrior and I love you.

I don’t need to know your name, who you sleep next to, or where you pray.

I’m with you.

They say the worst quality to have is to not challenge the status quoi.

I will personally challenge every status quoi that makes reason out of murder.

I will publically argue every status quoi that says people who love are going to hell.

And I will personally do whatever I can to let you know that you, warriors of this country, will never walk alone.

On 6/12 everyone became Orlando.

I love you. I love you. I love you.

Party Plan Like a Pro

Planning a party is hard enough, but when you need everyone to check the attending box, it can be downright exhausting. Bachelorette party planning requires the same skills used for The Amazing Race.

Teamwork and patience.

Having buttoned up (for the most part) the two bachelorette parties I have this year, I have to say that the key is for bridesmaids/groomsmen to lean on one another- that’s why there’s more than one of you! You have one another to plan this special time and don’t be afraid of sharing the workload. The task can seem daunting, but that’s why it’s important you give yourself and your fellow maids the time you need to land on days, locations, and themes. This fall I am actually hosting one bachelorette party here in Columbus and I am beyond excited. While I prepare my tassel banners and bar cart though, here are the five keys I have found that lead to bachelorette bash success.  Plan away with these lessons in mind:

  1. Communication is key! If you’re the woman or man leading the charge, get the communication flowing-the earlier the better. Start with a group text, email, or Facebook chat to get to know one another before you are spending every weekend together at showers and rehearsal dinners. It’s more fun when you’re not there meeting for the first time.
  2. Budgets and Calendars. Talk about these two with your bridal party and be honest with yourself. The reality is that this is probably not the only wedding you and your friends are in this year, and weddings add up. The sooner you can block off days for bridesmaid events, the better you can plan any time or vacations you wanted just for you. Same goes for the rest of the group!
  3. Where shall we go? Once budgets and calendar availability are settled, this makes choosing a location ten times easier. I’ve found site such as Style Me Pretty to be helpful, along with just looking to see what other friends have done in the past. Remember—location doesn’t matter nearly as much as just having everyone together for a weekend to celebrate your bride. Try to pick a spot that works for the group and will allow you guys plenty of activities to choose from.
  4. It’s never too early to start picking up decorations. After throwing an event the other weekend, I loved the fact that most of the décor either came with the venue, or was something I had picked up weeks in advance. This made the day-of details so much more manageable. Also- I learned that Party City has a great deal on balloon bundles if you’re in need of some added fun in the room.
  5. Loop in the bride. While some brides want to be completely surprised, if you’re unsure of something, go ahead and see what your best gal pal has to say. This is her time, and remember when it’s your turn she’ll put forth just as much effort for you. Make sure this is a party she’ll enjoy and remember for years to come. This is her chance to check out from her wedding planning frenzy and relax with her best friends.

Happy planning!

Pretty Metal

I’m writing this tonight from Providence, Rhode Island. If you haven’t been I highly suggest it. Even if you only hit up the Seven Stars bakery and eat a raspberry bar- the trip is already worth it.

I haven’t written a piece like this in a while, but over the last few days I had some thoughts that kept nagging me.  I had to write them down. Maybe it’s the ocean air that has my thoughts swimming.

See what I did there?

Tonight as I sit here in this beautiful city, I can’t help but think that one day I hope I have a daughter.

I was raised by strong women, but not everyone is. I was brought up in a community of women who voted no to nonsense. They care more about glass ceilings than glass slippers.

They are warriors of words, and with that skill, taught me the value in knowing who you are.

There’s a power in that, which has always left me awestruck. You know when a woman walks in the room and she knows who she is. She’s the show stopper. She’s the leader of the pack. She’s magnetic.

I would argue that female empowerment has nothing to do with being in a board room and more to do with knowing who you are as an individual.

“Girl power” doesn’t come from being equal with men.  I would argue that it comes from accepting yourself the way you were made. Loving one another. Supporting one another. Forgiving one another.

I have no use for women of great solo achievement who put down other women for choosing, what may be in their eyes, a lesser path. Women are so quick to judge; I know I can be. I have had moments where I practically was Judge Judy.  But what does that produce other than five steps back in the parade of progress? Feedback, guidance, and genuine conversations lead to change. Not pettiness or falsehoods.

There’s a sense of self that is untouchable that comes from growing up in that kind of community. It’s a community of integrity, honesty, and women who demand authenticity.

There’s a reason plastic is so easily recyclable. You can squeeze it down with just a little added pressure. You can make the same thing over and over. But metal has to be melted down. It has to be put in the fire. Metal can be dropped and land whole. It can scratch and take a beating but it remains intact. You have to melt metal. You have to apply a lot of pressure to belittle metal.

Friends who know me will probably say I am a big advocate of women supporting women. And they wouldn’t be wrong.

My life would not be as bright without the women role models, friends, and family that I find myself constantly seeking out. We are always sharing ideas and they show me an alternative way of thinking. They are my sound board and editors of every draft. We build one another up and are one another’s first line of defense.

Since a daughter (or any children) is in the far future, I will say that I have high hopes for every young girl in this world. I hope every girl grows up in a community like mine. I hope she is more concerned with intellect over income. I hope she realizes (much like I am) that strength- real strength– comes from experience. I hope she accepts that real weight can be from holding your head high.  I pray that she is never fearful of being smart. I encourage her to share her ideas and opinions. I hope even more so that she forms her own. I hope she never settles and strives for what’s just out of reach.

I hope she’s brave. I hope she takes big leaps that make her hold her breath.

I hope she opens her eyes onto a world that discourages an impossible female standard and applauds realness.

I hope she loves her body and I hope she encourages others to do the same.

I hope that this world we live in continues to progress in the sector of sisterhood.

Because we have a long way to go.

I encourage every woman to reach out to a friend and let them know what a gift they are to be around. What an inspiring force they provide every day. Cheer them on when they succeed and hold their hand when they struggle.

Let’s get more metal women.

Yes To All The Dresses

I have not worn a dress someone told me to wear since my First Communion.

Looking at you Mom.

Then again, I have never been a bridesmaid either. I am blown away by my friends’ abilities to whip up a gorgeous (seasonally sensitive) color palate within months of getting engaged. Their Pinterest accounts look like high fashion inspiration boards. I am not kidding. I called one of my brides the other night after getting Pinterest updates from her and was like,

“Ok Karl Lagerfield. I see you.”

Dress shopping for bridesmaid dresses is stressful, expensive, and overall daunting. I walked into BHLDN and almost had a breakdown after the woman asked me what shade of beige my friend had chosen.

I work in fashion and deal with pantone chips on the reg- but even for me this is too many choices to pick from.

I have found these three things alleviate a lot of bridesmaid dress stresses:

-Take a backseat. Let your bride take the lead here. She has a picture in her head on what she wants her day to look like.

-Have an honest conversation about budget. Let her know your budget before you’re faced with a $400 dress situation. Unless you’re a millionaire. Then by all means you do you boo.

-Share with your bride the dress silhouette that you feel most comfortable in and find flattering on yourself. This is her day but you are about to be in forever photos here. Photos you will look back on for years to come. You want and deserve to feel good about what you are wearing too.

Having a hard time finding a dress?  Below are a two of my bridesmaid dress picks to start the hunt:

 

dress

Down Every Aisle

Your best friend is engaged. What do you do now?

Answer? You celebrate her.

I think sometimes this can be hard for everyone because fundamentally, putting ourselves second is something most people struggle with. I know it is something I work on every day.  The reality of being a bridesmaid is that this day is not about you- it’s about celebrating your sister, your friend, the destination of all text message screenshots.  This is her moment, her year, and while at times this can be hard to swallow, just know she will return the favor in due time.

Until that time though, it is easy to let these voices creep in…

But I’m not married. I’m not engaged.

Guess what?

That is okay. We are all significant with or without a significant other. I found this phrase while reading one of my favorite books, Bittersweet by Shauna Niequist. If you’re looking for a good read that will change your life, I highly suggest it.

Celebrate each of your friends’ milestones, even if they do not line up with your own.

Life will fall into place. Trust in that and have faith that your chapter is written exactly how it is supposed to be read.

And how is that?

One page at a time.

To kick off the year of celebrations and champagne, I sent each of my brides a little care package to say,

“Hey! YOU’RE GETTING MARRIED AND THIS IS GOING TO BE AMAZING & YOU’RE AMAZING!”

Women supporting women down every aisle of life is key.  That’s why bridesmaids exist. You are her support system, her hands to hold before she leaps. You stand on the side of the ceremony as her cheerleaders- her squad.

So even it’s something little, send your friend a little something to celebrate her next move in life.

Here are my favorites:

bride

Clockwise: Express One Eleven Bride Tee, Bride Magazine Subscription, Kate Spade “Mrs” Necklace, & Francesca’s I’m Engaged Duh Mug 

You Said Yes

You said yes.

And then I did too.

Earlier this year one of my best friends from college had her someone special pop the question. She’s the best- and her husband could not be a better guy. I was moved to tears when over lunch in St. Charles, IL, they asked me to be a part of their special day.

Initially I was like, “Girl… you sure?

And you know what? She really was.

Fast forward  several months and I am having dinner with one of my sorority sisters. Her partner-in-crime had also just got down on one knee a few days prior. To no one’s surprise, I was a misty eyed mess when she asked me to say yes to the bridesmaid dress. And again I was like, “Really? Me?

Only because I’ve been known to grab the mic at weddings and make some impromptu speeches. I feel like people should know what they’re getting into up front.

I’m a straight shooter.

But she too was totally sure about her choice. Never doubt a bride’s taste in ladies- she has chosen the very  best to stand by her side. I’m mean obviously.

So it’s official. I’m going to be a bridesmaid. Twice. This fall will be full of hotel rooms decorated with tassel banners, inventing wedding hash tags, and glossy invitations. And honestly? I could not be more excited.

Being chosen to stand up next your best girl as they make their vows is something not everyone will get to experience. It’s a privilege and truly an honor.

But this is my first go at this thing. All I know about being a bridesmaid is what Pinterest has shown me, and I have to believe this job involves more than engagement ring shaped confetti.

So this is a year of trial & error for me.  I’ve decided it might be helpful to my fellow bridesmaids, man of honors, and anyone else at the gym sweating for someone else’s wedding- if I was to share it.

From dresses, to workouts (because you are about to be in a lot of photos), to the panic attacks about affording it all, writing toasts, and planning a party with eight different schedules-

I’m your girl this year and trust me- it’s going to be a good time.