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Mental Health

Have you ever had someone say, “have you prayed about it,” and in that moment you want to reach across the table and punch them right in the face? It’s not that you don’t believe in the power of prayer or even if you don’t, it’s not that you want to bash on that person’s beliefs. It’s that we live in this world where people think mental health is something that can be fixed or cured by changing our views. They say “have you thiught about the things you have to be thankful for?” Or “maybe you’re just living in the past and you should start focusing on the now.” I don’t think people intentionally say these things to hurt us, even if it feels like that. For me, my depression isn’t something that can be “cured” with a simple change of view. My depression is a lack of serotonin in my brain. It’s my body’s inability to produce the happy gene on its own. Somedays I feel more than overjoyed and ecstatic about life. Other days I cry nonstop and can’t function. I take meds, I exercise, I pray, I eat healthy, I journal, see counselors, and talk about my past to try and overcome the skeletons. It doesn’t seem like I get better and that’s okay. I’ve found ways to cope and deal with the suicidal thoughts. Mental health doesn’t have to have a stigma and it’s okay to not know what to say to someone who suffers from a mental health disorder. Ask them how you can help instead of assuming things about them or the disorder. Pray for them if that’s what you believe in or wish them good karma… but please don’t make them feel worse about their mental health or their inability to “get over it.”

Alone

I feel alone, but it’s hard to get out.

I’m a new mom and I literally don’t want to do things without my child… it gives me anxiety to think about leaving her for longer than 1 hour. I know she has tons of people who would jump at the chance to sit for me and give me a few hours to just be. But it’s hard to leave. It’s also hard to give someone else control over my child’s wellbeing. What if she cries and they can’t figure out how to calm her? What if she keeps refusing the bottle because all she wants to do is nurse? What if she remembers not being able to calm down and it impacts her later in life? [I know I’m crazy].

I feel alone, but I want my own space.

I’m almost 28 years old and I’ve only had the chance to live alone for a very brief period of time. It’s not that I don’t enjoy the company of people, but I need my OWN space. I want to take all the things I have in storage and put them in their specific place. I want to clean up messes that are only mine.

I feel alone, but I’m not depressed.

I’ve been depressed… suicidal and sent to a psych ward kind of depressed. I don’t feel that way. My life is different and sometimes it’s challenging to adjust to the fact I can’t just go do whatever, but I’m not depressed. My daughter makes me the happiest I’ve ever been and I’m so thankful that I have to plan my life around her little naps and feeding schedule. But I also miss my kiddos (the ones I nanny-ed for), my friends, and going out in public without being stared at because I’m nursing my baby. I am sad my clothes don’t fit how they used to. I am sad I don’t feel like I accomplish much throughout the day (sometimes I don’t even get a chance to brush my teeth). But I don’t want help, I want to be able to do it ALL! I am a new person and this new identity as a mother is seriously the best, but I feel like I don’t know who I am.

I feel alone in this journey, even when I’m surrounded by support.

Baby Love

I’ve been a momma for a little over 3 months and it is my favorite thing but also the hardest. I get to wake up every morning and snuggle my sweet baby, listen to her coo, giggle, and even sometimes scream her little head off. The moments are so precious but also so quick. I’ve been told more times than I can remember that in a blink of an eye she’ll be 18 and leaving for college.

I don’t want to think about this tiny little human not needing me anymore.

Being a momma has changed my entire world. What I thought was once important really isn’t anymore. I now spend less time on my phone and live in the moment (besides when I’m soaking up cute photos and videos to share with the world). I rarely find time to shower or fix my hair, which makes me feel like a slob; but when I hold my baby and she smiles up at me, I don’t care that I have spit up in my hair from 3 days before. I’m a slight clean freak and tend to get anxiety when things aren’t in the correct places, but I’ve realized making funny faces at my daughter to get her to laugh is far more enjoyable than cleaning.

Life as a momma has been the greatest and scariest thing I’ve ever had to do. It’s a mixture of counting down till bedtime but missing them once they’re asleep. It’s feeling like a rockstar but also guilty. It’s wanting alone time but wondering what/how they’re doing when you are alone.

Sometimes I get frustrated when she’s awake at 2am and all I want to do is sleep. Then two seconds later and a huge pang of grief wipes over me for feeling that way. Or when she’s crying so hard and I can’t seem to calm her down. I wonder what I’m doing wrong, if I’m cut out for this. I sometimes wish I could go to the store without my little one, but the second she’s not in the car I just stare at the mirror wishing her sweet little face was looking up at me. I wonder if she’ll grow up and feel loved, if she’ll know that I tried my hardest and even in the moments of frustration, I loved her more than I could ever explain. I wonder if she’ll remember crying because I was trying to finish my sandwich instead of scooping her up right away… These feelings are the things I’ve read about on other mom blogs and I know I let myself ride on the irrational train. BUT being a momma is hard work.

I just hope that other mommas know they are enough too. And that it’s completely normal to feel irrational. Know that no one can love your baby the way you do. You know your baby better than anyone. Even when you cannot be with your baby, at the end of the day you’re still their momma and love them more fiercely than anyone ever could. I think it’s important for us to remember our identity has changed, but it doesn’t have to be wrapped all up in our baby. (Although I’m still working on this). Our babies grow so quickly, enjoy them, but also remember it’s okay to enjoy things without them too. & try to not let yourself get too irrational because we are human and we can only do so much!

Lou & Leela: Our Parents Bought a Camper

My husband and I travel for a living and decided to a buy a camper for our adventures about a year ago. If you ask us, we would much rather have a stationary home, BUT it is very beautiful & works for the time being.

However, as we patiently wait for a life that doesn’t consist of traveling so often, many millennials and retired couples (and others) buy a camper to travel the world! Or they sell their home to become minimalist and have a smaller space (sort of like tiny houses). They take on this journey and end up LOVING it! My sister and her husband happen to be one of those amazing people who can rock the small-living. They bought their camper around the same time as Sam and I, however, they don’t travel for work–they chose to buy a camper to just live-in! CRAZY! They’ve lived in this camper (which is BEAUTIFUL) for almost a year with their two beagles, Lou & Leela. They both work from home–so they spend almost every hour together (also, I think this is CRAZY, but so happy it works for them).

Since I have read about tons of people buying campers/RVs to live in full-time, I decided to do a Q&A with Mattie and David about their tiny home.

1) Why live in a camper? (Instead of a house/apartment/condo)

Mattie: “Ive always been drawn to smaller spaces and tried to convince David to live in a tiny house for years. When I was looking at tiny houses, I knew I couldn’t get David on board [due to prices]. So I started to look outside the box, which led me to campers. There’s such an incredible community out there for people of all ages, but especially those under forty, full-timing in their campers. I was sold… I just had to get David on board.”

*Side note: David is super easy going and I knew as soon as Mattie had this idea in her head, she could convince him to take on the adventure with her.*

“People tend to think I’m a little crazy for wanting to live small, but it allows us the freedom to put what’s most important first. We’re not tied down to anything right now, we don’t have a large house payment and we both are able to work from home, which is something I am incredibly grateful for. This lifestyle allowed me to focus on my dreams and business and take things to places I wouldn’t have otherwise. It’s been a blessing.”

David: “I was drawn to the idea of downsizing and it gives you the opportunity to be closer to the ones you love. You can also pick up and move anytime. You can live at the beach for a month and move to the mountains the next”

2) Did you plan to remodel your camper when you purchased it?

Both: “Yes! We both knew going in that we would have to make it feel like home for us. I can’t live in a world of beige and everything in the camper was beige when we bought it.”

3) What did you struggle with while remodeling?

Mattie: “Painting! But really, it was tedious. I paint every new place I move into and I didn’t think the camper would be such a challenge because the space is so small. Cue the laughter, it just created more nooks and crannies and oh so many cabinets to paint. I was covered in paint for weeks while I finished everything. I still have some touching up to do, which I’m dreading.”

David: “Getting our queen bed in, we had to full take it apart and put it back together in the camper. We’re not looking forward to taking it back out.”

4) What was the most daring makeover?

Mattie: “The biggest wall in the camper I painted black. I remember David coming home, the paint still wet and looking at me like I was nuts. But I think we both love it now. I would love to seethe new owners add a gallery wall, I think it would be gorgeous!”

David: “Pulling up the carpet, but really Mattie did most of the work, so whatever she says.”

5) What would you still like to change in your camper?

Mattie: “I would love to put vinyl flooring in the slide to get rid of all the carpet and put in new industrial style lights, but I’m not sure we will get there before we sell. Hopefully the new owners will love our style and won’t have to change much.”

David: “If we were living here longer, I would build a portable deck for grilling.”

*Side note: They LOVE their camper and don’t want to move out or sell it, but life happens and there will be more about that further in the blog*

6) What do you like most about the camper?

Mattie: “I really love our bedroom. We love watching moves in bed with our pups, it just feels so cozy since we remodeled. I found this great removable wall paper from Target too which adds such a warm touch and my books are just above the bed so I can easily see them all.”

David: “The fireplace, it puts off so much heat which is great in the colder months.”

Mattie: “I also agree! It feels so cozy watching the snow fall around you and having the fireplace on. We will need to get one for our new home. I also love all our windows, it lets in so much light during the day, helping the space feel even bigger.”

7) What’s something surprising about the camper life?

Mattie: “We don’t need nearly as much stuff as we thought! I had filled the camper to the max when we moved in and I’m constantly purging things each week now. We actually have an empty cabinet or two. It’s funny how little we truly need to live and to feel fulfilled. Material things are just that, i would rather have adventures with my loved ones than something new I don’t even need.”

David: “Ditto”

8) What’s a misconception people have about living in a camper?

Mattie: “Oh my goodness, there are so many! That we must hate being so close to each other is the biggest one I get. While we are forced to be closer, we do have our own space. We both work from home full-time and so we each pick a room for eight hours and then meet for dinner in the kitchen. I typically don’t hear David while he’s working, he’s a pretty quiet person, so I suppose that helps.”

David: “People seem to think we live this lifestyle because we can’t afford something else. Which is always funny seeing their reactions when they see what the inside looks like and how much space we actually have. Everyone is surprised we have surround sound in the camper.”

9) What is your favorite thing about living small?

Mattie: “Being close to my husband and downsizing. David was active duty military at the beginning of our marriage and while it was hard being apart so much, i did look forward to eating my favorite foods for dinner and having the TV remote all to myself for a few weeks at a time. Now that we’ve been in the camper almost a year, we’ve grown a lot closer as we’re kind of forced to be together more.”

David: “I would agree with Mattie, it’s shown us how much we can truly tolerate each other. HA! But in all seriousness, it has been nice being close to my family again.”

10) Why are you selling?

Mattie: “We love our camper and I’ll probably cry the day we sell it, but it’s served it’s purpose for us.For me the biggest reason to sell is because we want to adopt and that’s not something we can do from the camper.”

David: “We’re ready to start our family and having somewhere a little more permanent to settle down will be nice.”

If any of you know Mattie and David, you know they will probably buy a camper to travel the world in later down the road. They love adventures and not having ‘roots’ to tie them down. However, I am very excited that my baby will have her Aunt and Uncle close by when she arrives AND hopefully some new cousins eventually too. Mattie is an extremely talented and artistic person and I’m sure she would love to answer any questions or give advice on remodeling to anyone out there. Just shoot me a question and I will relay it to her. Below I have some before and after photos of the camper–which they will be selling. You can also ask me about the price if you decide you can’t live without this dreamy home!

*Side note: the formatting of this blog keeps correcting itself and since I am using an iPad, I haven’t been able to fix some of the things that are really bothering me–please don’t judge the format 🙂 *

Being a Motherless Daughter

“When a daughter loses a mother, the intervals between grief responses lengthen over time, but her longing never disappears. It always hovers at the edge of her awareness, prepared to surface at any time, in any place, in the least expected ways.” Hope Edelman (Motherless Daughters: The Legacy of Loss)

I became a motherless daughter when I was sixteen years old. This was almost 11 years ago… I lost her to cancer. As I have aged and gone through different phases and stages of life the “longing” for her has come like rapid fire emerging out of nowhere. While other times it is subtle and more like a pinched nerve that only hurts when I move a certain way. Being pregnant without my mom has definitely felt like that pinched nerve at certain moments and other moments it’s like I’m reliving her death and that gasping-for-air-grief all over again.

During my first trimester when I was hospitalized multiple times due to being dehydrated and so sick, I wondered what her pregnancies were like and if she was sick too. I laid up in my mother-in-law’s house for weeks, puking every 20-40 minutes, dry heaving even 12+ hours after I attempted to eat. I laid there everyday so thankful I had this wonderful lady who took care of me like she was my mom, but I also laid there feeling guilty and sad.

As I progressed into the second trimester and started feeling Geneveive kick, I wanted to talk to my mom about those wonderful flutters. I wanted to ask her about stretch marks and how much weight she gained. Now, in my third trimester, I long for her to know her first grand-baby. To have her in the room with me during labor, to call and cry to her when I’m having an anxiety attack because I don’t feel prepared, to simply talk to her about this new journey. Some days it’s in the back of my mind and others it is a blazing forest fire ripping through me.

I want my mom here and that is selfish because I know heaven is beyond anything I could imagine. I feel guilty because I have been blessed with different motherly figures throughout my adulthood and it’s a fine line between letting them love me like their own and feeling like I’m leaving my mom behind. There are so many emotions (some irrational) that come with grief and loss. I feel heartbroken because my daughter will never know this amazing woman who I called my mom. I feel ashamed when I think about all the ‘fill-in’ grandma’s my daughter will have because what if that hurts my mom? I know it’s probably irrational to think that way because God gave me these incredible women to talk to and love me–but it does not make the thoughts go away.

There are times when her death lays on my chest like an elephant suffocating me… I wonder if I am allowed to be loved by other motherly figures. It is okay to have these second families that I spend my time, holidays, etc with? Does it make me a bad daughter to not mourn her at all times? I feel it becomes harder to accept love from others–that I should return the love, gifts, favors, advice with another gift or money. I know God did not take my mom as punishment, but I find myself wanting to punish myself for letting other people in.

I know as I grow older, the longing for her will still not fade. There will always be a need for my mom–questions I have, stories I want to share, other babies I want her to meet… I was blessed to have my mother for sixteen years and I am so thankful for our time, but it was not enough.

Side Note: losing my mother so young did create a special bond between my siblings and I. My little brother has blossomed into this amazing young man who is wise beyond his years. My older sister is a role model, a take-charge and keep us in-line beautiful soul who consistently reminds us the value and importance of family. She is so much like my mom and it is wonderful having her around to keep that memory even more vibrant. God works in mysterious ways that we don’t always understand, but I know our relationship was a small part of his bigger plan.

Baby G

For the past five years I have wanted nothing more than to be around children. I LOVE kids. I love watching them make sense of the world; ask questions that are completely ridiculous but really wanting to know the answer; learning something new every single moment and being so amazed at the smallest things. Kids are brave, resilient, fearless, (sometimes) dramatic, loving, and generally kind. They believe in the greater good and are so quick to let anyone in–it is truly inspiring.

Since this desire to be around children popped up, my now husband has been really supportive in encouraging me to find a career that centers around children. I worked as a lead teacher at a daycare for a while and then eventually moved on to Nanny three of the cutest and greatest kids I have ever known. They have taught me a love I didn’t know could exist, sacrificing my own needs, needing a break from them–but missing them the second I leave, my food is never off limits, and kids keep you humble. I have watched them grow from these tiny little humans who could barely speak into these beautiful little nuggets that have opinions, wants, requests, likes, hates, etc. They have changed my heart and really prepared me for motherhood. Which is a good thing because in a few short months I will have my own baby girl–baby G.

Reading and hearing about pregnancy, prior to be pregnant, was all this magnificent dream that I could not wait to endure. I was READY to be a mom and every month that I got the monthly reminder I wasn’t, made me sad and honestly a little scared. I just believed it would happen so quickly–I mean it couldn’t be that hard, could it? I was wrong… it was months of not preventing, expecting a positive test, being sad and resentful, and wondering if something was wrong me. (I know this is ridiculous, but I also know tons of women out there who expect it to happen in the snap of a finger). Eventually I had to stop wanting control over something completely out of my control and put my trust in God. We did become pregnant and I found out in late February–I was only 3 weeks and 5 days at the time. My pregnancy test came back positive really early on–which is was AWESOME, but also lead to even more fear.

The first couple weeks of pregnancy weren’t too bad, I was exhausted and trying to keep a secret from my family while I waited for week 12 to finally arrive, but overall I was excited. Then day 1 of week 6 hit–which also meant my morning sickness hit. Let me tell you all something: MORNING SICKNESS IS A GIANT LIE. It doesn’t just happen in the morning and it isn’t just a few rounds of vomiting and you’re back to feeling completely normal. Morning sickness, for lots of women, is an all day event that leaves you overly fatigued, emotionally and physically drained, and honestly kind of mad that a tiny little seed can wreck such havoc on your body that early in his/her life. My morning sickness quickly went from horrible to heinous. Week 7 I was throwing up every 10-20 minutes (mostly dry-heaving) and had to go to the hospital for fluids. Week 8 and 9 were the same. Week 10-14 were the worst. I would try to stand up and immediately start my vomiting cycle. I would eat a piece of toast in attempt to settle my stomach, but it would come right back up. I would try to brush my teeth only to dry-heave for 30 minutes straight. I could not drink a drop of water without an hour of my stomach sharing it’s anger at me. I was in the hospital a total of 9 times. I was throwing up blood, staying 1-2 days at a time in the hospital and CONSISTENTLY puking. I lost over 10 pounds in 6 days. I was empty, hurting, and frightened. Being pregnant adds this extra fear that something horrific is going to happen to your baby who you finally were able to create and carry. Being that sick on top of it left me a nervous wreck. I was afraid something would happen to my child or to me. I was living in this constant state of fear on top of feeling like I was the walking dead.

However, every night when I would lay down, I would thank God for giving me the opportunity to feel the way I was feeling–to give me this child that I was going to raise and hold in a few short months. If I threw up only 50 times that day, I would thank God it wasn’t 60 like the day before. I found ways to find the silver lining in that sickness. I know my first trimester was worse than some women, but I also know there are women out there who beg God every single day to let them feel that way. I am so fortunate and blessed to be able to carry my own child–even if it meant feeling like I was going to die in the process of getting to where I am now. I wish I could say God answers all our prayers or that there are reasons some of us are able to conceive naturally or at all, but I don’t have those answers. I just pray that when you or someone you know is struggling through the first trimester–you/they know it is okay to feel horrible and dreadful, but it is also such a miracle. (I hated hearing this at first too because I was definitely in the mindset of ‘how in the hell do people have multiple kids’). My relationship with God was strengthened and deepened throughout my first trimester. I was worried my mental health would take a toll (I suffer with chronic depression) but it didn’t. I was generally happy even in the sickness.

I am now 22 weeks (YAY) and we found out we are having a baby girl, Genevieve. She is expected to arrive in November. I still have a couple days a week where I wake up super nauseous, but for the most part I am on the mend. I wanted to share this story because I know there are tons of women–like myself–who read about pregnancy and other people’s pregnancy journeys and expect theirs to be spot on. The second we read something that isn’t similar to our own, we freak out. For instance, the first 4-6 weeks of knowing I was pregnant my cramps were INTENSE. I thought I was 11 years-old again and going through my first period. You read about cramps on the internet and they say “mild cramping.” So of course your brain turns to the worst. All of our bodies are different and pregnancy is going to look different on everyone. People will give you advice, share their own stories, and try to help you feel better (all out of kindness), but try to not let yourself get caught up in their story. This is YOUR story, YOUR body, and YOUR baby. If you are concerned, call your doctor–not google. If you keep getting unwanted advice, ask them nicely to listen without sharing their own story. All of us mothers have to stick together and sometimes that means shutting up and being there for one another.

I also wanted to share this story because I am lucky. I am lucky to be able to have a child with my husband. I might have complained throughout this pregnancy, but I hope that never made another woman who is unable to carry feel like I wasn’t grateful. I am beyond grateful and thankful and I don’t know what it is like to not be able to feel my child kicking… But I am praying for you. I am praying God answers your prayers–whether that is exactly what you asked for or him answering your prayers in an unexpected way. I am praying that you get to be a mommy–in whatever way God makes that appear in your life. I am praying that we are all able to be on the journey of motherhood together–even though the rollercoaster ride to get there isn’t the same. God is so good and I hope we can all remember that… especially when it seems he isn’t listening.

Nothing Fancy, Just LOVE!

My husband and I eloped on May 27, 2017. We told only a select amount of people before we traveled to Lake of Ozark’s and tied the knot. It was one of the best days of our lives and I am so incredibly thankful we chose to elope instead of have a big traditional wedding. I have a list of many reasons we eloped and a list of a few things we would have done differently.

We eloped because:

-So many people had opinions on what our wedding should have/shouldn’t have looked like

-We both come from extremely large families, but we also have a handful of friends we consider family and choosing a wedding party would have been a nightmare and tons of feelings probably would have been hurt

-There were a lot of opinions on who should or should not be in our wedding party

-MONEY!!! Sam, unfortunately, married into my HUGE sum of student loan debt and thinking about spending $10+grand on a wedding instead of debt just seemed unrealistic and wasteful of our resources

-I suffer from anxiety and the thought of trying to plan a party that hundreds of people will attend, as well as knowing it would have been one of the biggest days of my life seemed overwhelming (to say the least)

-My mom. My mom died when I was sixteen and even though I had always dreamed of my wedding day and the details that would make it the fairytale Sam wanted for me, it didn’t feel like I could do it without her. As a little girl and even as you get closer to the age of marriage, many women (including myself) imagine their mom helping them with the dress; looking at their mom during the ceremony and seeing the tears of happiness; knowing your mom doesn’t think your husband is good enough but accepting him because she knows how happy he makes you; and knowing that your mom would do everything in her power to make your fairytale wedding come true. I miss my mom daily and there are so many things I wish she could be on Earth for (I know this is selfish because Heaven is a million times better), but missing her on a day that hundreds of other people would have been at just did not feel right with me. It would have made a happy day a lot harder…

-It was about us. Our wedding night will be remembered as a day that was about our love and what we felt for each other. It was simple, elegant, and imperfect. I did not wake up that morning and worry about if I had ordered enough food for all the guests or if the DJ was going to play something too inappropriate for some of our family. I woke up that morning wondering if the storm would pass so we could elope outside or if we would do the ceremony inside. I woke up feeling nervous, but not because I was fearful something would happen or go wrong at our ceremony, but because I was about to marry my best friend. I didn’t have to think about the guests, details, or anything else. I had to wake up and show up and that alone was enough of a reason for us to elope. (Not everyone worries about those things in a big wedding, but anxious/pleaser-Erica does)

A little back story about how we decided to elope before I say the things we wish we would have done differently:

About a week before Memorial Day Weekend, Sam and I were discussing getting engaged. We had talked about our engagement numerous times as well as when our wedding would be. I had always wanted a winter wedding (winter wonderland with snow, Christmas trees, lights, etc), but we had a lot of other, yet wonderful, events happening in the 2017 year that would have prevented us from having a short engagement. I was planning to visit Sam in Texas that weekend because I had a long weekend and Sam was unsure if he could get off. And because I am impatient and quite frankly, because I’m the move-maker in this relationship, I said “Hey, why don’t we elope this weekend?” Sam had heard me talk about elopement on other occasions, but he knew I was serious this time and so he said “if you’re sure, let’s do it!”

We then spent about two days trying to find somewhere to elope Memorial Day Weekend near Texas/New Mexico. Guess what? NOTHING was available because it was a holiday weekend (duh, Erica). I then started researching places in Missouri to elope and I fell upon Old Kinderhook at Lake of the Ozark’s. I emailed the lady with my questions and she said they had 1 hotel room left for the weekend and no other weddings going on. They had an elopement package, originally $1000+, but because they had nothing else going on, she let us have it for $250. This included her coordination, the Minister, and all the other minor details of the day that she would setup for us. The only thing this wedding package did not include was a photographer. Lucky for me, I have an AMAZINGLY talented sister who happens to also take THE BEST photos (find her at greensparrowphotography.net). We knew we had to have photos of the day, so we asked Mattie and of course she said yes. All of these things happened on the Tuesday before our elopement (which happened Saturday).

I also had to make sure we could get our marriage license. I emailed the Boone County office and the wonderful woman there said she would meet us on Saturday morning to get our license to us. At this point, I know God had his hand in this because all of the things that we should have planned months in advance were happening in such a short amount of time. Did I mention about a week before we decided to do this, the lady I had working on altering my mother’s wedding dress for my future wedding (I know, I know, I jumped the gun before I was even engaged) was moving and couldn’t finish the dress? I was devastated because I had waited to find the perfect person for the job and when I did, she wasn’t able to complete it. I had mixed feelings on whether or not the elopement was the best idea, but when things kept falling into place, I was comforted by God and Sam knowing that this was the right move for us. Even though I was unable to wear my mom’s dress on my big day, I found one at Jc Penny’s on sale for $60 with NO alterations needed 🙂 (SCORE)

I had to call my hair stylist and also find someone to help with make-up and lucky for me, I was able to get both Saturday morning within 1 hour of each other. I used Shannon Orton at The Trove for my hair and a lady at Dermistique for my make-up. They were both excited to be in on our secret as well as supportive and encouraging that the horrible storm brewing that day would pass during our ceremony. After my make-up was finished, I had to rush home and grab the rest of my things before meeting up with Mattie to drive to the Lake. Mattie had eloped five years prior to this and because she knew what things she wished she would have had at her own ceremony, she went above and beyond to make the day even more memorable for us. Mattie ordered me a bouquet and a cake, had Mr&Mrs signs for our chairs, added little photos of our families on Sam’s boutonnière and my bouquet (so our families could be with us that day), and also had a box of ’emergency supplies.’ I cannot thank her enough for all she did to make our day perfect.

Once I arrived at Old Kinderhook and checked in, the wedding coordinator and I discussed the ceremony details and where we would have it while it rained. We had planned to have it overlooking the golf-course near a waterfall, but it did not seem like the storm was going to let up, so we moved the plans around to have it on the patio where we would be shielded by an awning. Sam arrived shortly after I did (we did not see each other until the ceremony) as well as the few friends we asked to come stand with us. Up until this point, only five people knew we were eloping and two of them did not find out until 2 hours before the event. We had really debated on telling our immediate family to meet us, but were afraid only some could come and others would but upset they could not be there. Our ceremony was set to happen around 6:45PM because the sun would be setting, as I was getting ready to go hide before I walked to meet my groom, the storm let up and we were able to move the wedding to our original spot–outside. (Another God thing). I walked out around 6:45 and saw the best looking man I know standing there underneath gray skies waiting for me…

And now the things we wish we would have done differently or wish we would have known prior to eloping:

-Told our families prior to the elopement (looking back, it was unnecessary for us to keep it a secret from them anyway and could have been even more wonderful to let them see us as we got ready)

-Being honest with people when they gave their opinions or ‘advise’ for what our wedding day should have been like

-Go in expecting the hurt feelings of others to also cause us hurt feelings

-Knowing that eventually everyone will get past their hurt feelings and be happy for us

-No matter what option you chose, someone is bound to be upset and also tell you about it

-There are always things we wish we would have done differently (example: telling our families)

Our wedding day was perfect for us. Of course, as I mentioned, there are things we would done differently, but life is short and we cannot dwell on those things. We did what was best for us and our marriage. I LOVE big weddings and I hope that if you are one of those people who want to have a big wedding, you do! They are just as wonderful as any other wedding. Do what makes YOU happy and what YOU want. It is YOUR wedding, not anyone else’s.

Hiatus

I’ve sat down in a restaurant and I look over and see two people staring at their phones instead of looking at one another. I always think to myself, “wow, they can’t put their phones down for 5 whole minutes.” I then look away with disgust and pick up my own phone and scroll through Instagram or Facebook. I’m a critic of something I find myself doing constantly. So I took a social media hiatus… I am nearing the end of week three.

A break from social media has been one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself. I’m not on instagram, Facebook, or Snapchat. My blog is connected to Facebook (so it appears I’m still on) and I have Facebook messenger because my brother is deployed and it’s our only form of communication. So you might say I’ve ended my relationship with MOST of social media. At first, it was really challenging. I almost felt a sense of loss and contemplated what to do with all my free time. I actually had to pay attention at stoplights and look at the road while I drive (I know phones and driving are bad but we all do it). I had to make real conversation with people that didn’t begin with “did you see what BillyBob wrote on Facebook” or “did you see what Helen Keller tagged George Washington in?” I had to think of my very own topics and use my intellect instead of the gossip I read about (sigh).

At the start of week two I noticed that I was reading more, using my phone less–my battery actually lasted a whole day–my marriage communication seemed to really improve, and I wasn’t constantly holding something in my hands. I made a New Years resolution to gossip less and I think ridding myself of a constant blast of people’s lives is getting me closer to that goal.

I’m not saying Social Media is bad or that I am giving it up forever, but I do think taking breaks is something I’ll have to consistently do. I’m the type of person who will compare my life, my body, my marriage, etc with the snippets of others’ lives that are portrayed so perfectly online. Rational Erica knows there is more to my friends and family than the picture they posted, but crazy Erica strives to be more like that perfection. I also think I’m becoming more empathetic and compassionate. I don’t immediately assume something just from one post or photo. I have to make an effort to reach out to my friends and family and ask them what is going on in their life. I don’t just look on Facebook and assume everything is going great. I find myself with a lot more free time and at first I was kind of bored because all the other free time went into staring at the screen. But then I started being active and doing those things I kept saying “I don’t have time for.”

My husband is not a social media person, he has Snapchat, but that is it. When he comes home from work, I get excited to see him and ask him about his day. I listen actively and not half-heartedly like before. I don’t have a phone in one hand and pretend to be engaged by looking up every now and again. I literally listen without being distracted. This has been AMAZING for my marriage. I hear my husband when he compliments me and I believe him because I’m looking at him when he says it. I can hold his hand in the car because I don’t have a phone in my hand. At night (he always falls asleep first) I can snuggle him and say our good nights without worrying about what is happening on my phone. I feel like our communication has improved tremendously and all because I had an obsession with social media I was missing out on so much.

I tend to take a lot of photos and put them online. I LOVE photos. But I’ve found myself taking more photos of everyday life and not trying to retake it a million times to get the ‘best’ one for social media. Instead I laugh at the blur in the photo or the fact half the people have their eyes closed. I take photos of my nanny kiddos while they’re doing the most ridiculous and hilarious things and I don’t obsess over if they’re smiling or not. Life isn’t about perfection and our memories aren’t filled with only picture perfect smiles and laughs. Our memories are sad, beautiful, imperfect, filled with pain, love, joy, and all the emotions in between. And I am learning that although social media is a great tool and resource to stay in touch and post our favorite things, I cannot strive to fit the lives of the people I follow on there. They have sad memories too and that’s what makes us all human.

I am not saying farewell to social media, but I am saying goodbye for now. I am just one of those people who needs a reminder of the reality of life through lenses that aren’t half discolored. Please don’t assume I am saying social media is bad and you all suck for using it. I am not. It is a wonderful thing, but for me it became a little less wonderful and caused me to stumble a lot more than I need.