Tying the Knot in a Meaningful and Memorable Way (Without Losing Our Savings or Sanity)

Monday, December 17, 2012

Dealing with Family

The holidays are upon us. For some folks, that means increased interaction with family, which may or may not mean increased levels of stress. A good friend of mine intentionally limits the amount of time she spends with her family throughout the year because of the stress they bring into her life.

Families can be really complicated because there's so much that's wound up tightly together--overwhelming love, expectations, miscommunication--the list goes on. Additionally, many of us bring our own wounds to the table that we never healed properly. Our own wounds affect the way we interact with others.

But there's also such depth and richness in family. There's a shared history, a shared future. Figuring out how to separate the good from the bad can help us realize the full benefit of our "family of origin" while sidestepping the drawbacks. 

One strategy that comes to mind is a pillar in The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. The idea is to distinguish our "Circle of Concern" from our "Circle of Influence." Our circles of concern are huge; they are full of all the things we wish we could change (including the things we wish we could change about the people around us or the families we came from). Our circles of influence are smaller; they contain the things we can actually change. 

If we focus all of our energy on the things we wish we could change, we end up wallowing in frustration and disappointment. However, if we focus on the things we can change and then actually work on changing them instead of just complaining about them, our lives become much more empowered and content. 

When it comes to family, there's a lot that is not within our circle of influence. What is absolutely within our control--however--is how we respond to our families. While we can't necessarily control the way our families act, we can completely control our responses to their actions. We are in charge of ourselves. Instead of responding in ways that escalate the situation, we can simply attempt to let go of our emotional responses. Internal dialogue can be really helpful in this situation, such as saying to ourselves, "So-and-so is doing the best they can. They are probably coming from a place of pain or fear. Just let it go."

Here's wishing you a holiday season full of light and love! 


Give the gift of wedding planning sanity this holiday season (to others or yourself!). A Priceless Wedding: Crafting a Meaningful, Memorable, and Affordable Celebration is now available.

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Tuesday, December 4, 2012

17 Copies Left!

The book is now shipping via Amazon! The official publication date is December 28, but it is now in warehouses and available for real, live delivery to your doorstep. I still can't believe it. 

Oh, and there are only 17 copies left. Perhaps they only started with an order of 20 copies, but still!

UPDATE: It's down to 15!

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Monday, December 3, 2012

Planning Your Authentic Wedding

I'm reading an awesome book right now called Finding Your Own North Star: Claiming the Life You Were Meant to Live. It's all about the difference between our authentic, essential selves which represent our deepest values/preferences/interests/passions and our social selves which internalize pressure from society, our families, our friends, etc. about what we're supposed to do and who we're supposed to be. If we align our choices too much with our social selves, we end up unhappy and disconnected from true contentment. The book is all about paying attention to signs from our minds and bodies in order to identify our most essential selves, so that we can align our lives with our most authentic path and find pure joy. 

I have so many examples from my own life that illustrate the tension between my essential and social selves. For example, after graduating from college with a B.A. in American Studies, I didn't have any job prospects (although I was thankful that my major aligned with my authentic self--I picked it by going through the course catalog and circling all the classes I wanted to take; I counted them up and majored in the area that had the most interesting classes). 

My social self told me that I had to have a plan. I had to make something of myself. So I sold my car and moved to Boston. I found a roommate on the internet and figured I could more easily find a job if I lived there. My social self was convinced that Boston was the intellectual and cultural Mecca of the United States. 

Boy, did my essential self fight that one! Within three days of moving to Boston I was in the emergency room at the hospital after fainting (I had a urinary tract infection). I'm convinced that my body was telling me that I wasn't in the right place. I sucked up my pride and moved back home for a year. I found work as an AmeriCorps volunteer and had one of the best years of my life. 

I have other examples of times when I listened to my essential self (like when I took a year off and traveled) and times when I'm not sure that I did (like when I joined Teach For America). I'm still processing where I am versus where my essential self thinks I should be. I definitely have more work to do in this area. 

But I am wholeheartedly convinced that our weddings are a time to analyze our "essential" versus "social" selves very carefully. How we plan our weddings matter. They set precedents for the kind of family we create. And there's nothing like planning a wedding to highlight the difference between what you want versus what your family/friends/society say you should want. 

Following your authentic path is not easy. You may face real opposition from family and friends ("You can't do that! How tacky!"). But you may also face internal opposition from your social self (which has been soaking up expectations from everything around you for your entire life). Plus, I have to throw in the possibility that your idea of the most authentic wedding for you might differ from your partner's version.

But there is no better time to sift out the differences between your essential and social self and follow your authentic path. Finding and following our authentic paths makes us want to wake up in the morning. It brings smiles to our faces. It inspires joy throughout every corner of our lives. Honestly, do we have any other choice but to honor ourselves by being authentic?

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