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Work: Can’t Wedding Plan with It, Can’t Live Without It

January 23, 2011

It’s Sunday afternoon, and the all-too-familiar pit in my stomach is slowly growing. Monday morning, the work week and all the chaos and stress that comes with it will soon be here again. And being the (very) slowly recovering perfectionist that I am, work weeks for me can be downright miserable.

I have a love-hate relationship with my work. I get paid to write and be creative and talk to people, which is pretty awesome. But with that comes long work days, a seemingly never-ending list of to-dos and demands, the always colorful variety of office personalities and, quite frankly, more stress than I really want to deal with anymore. The question I struggle with is: Do the circumstances of my work situation really suck that badly, or do I take things too seriously, not speak up when I should and say no once in a while and generally put way too much pressure on myself? I just don’t know, though I suspect it’s a little of both. And compounded with wedding planning, work has become just that much more stressful lately.

So I’ve increased my workouts, am making it a point to see friends and family more, am allowing myself to sleep in more on weekends and trying to take each day at a time, rather than overwhelm myself with a big-picture view. It seems to be working, though my assertiveness does need to improve—one of my goals for 2011.

Being able to speak up for myself and assert my needs have become not only a goal, in fact, but a necessity in my workplace. Our president seems to think I’m an administrative assistant (that was about eight years ago, buddy) and the department’s director (we have one, though work isn’t part of his daily agenda. Incessant YouTube-watching and chatting away on the phone are, however), so you can imagine the requests I get—at all hours of the night, mind you. Last night at 11:04 p.m., I got an e-mail request to “set him up on LinkedIn.” Last Sunday morning at 4:23 a.m., I was asked if I’m “keeping my eye” on a particular medical journal (I couldn’t make this stuff up!). While I try to maintain my sense of humor and remind myself that he is mentally instable and therefore can’t help staying up all night worrying about banners or parking memos, it can be tough at times, particularly during already stressful times that involve wedding planning.

This week, my sanity mantra will be “I am only one person, and I am doing the best I can.” I’ll let you know how that works out for me. In the meantime, please share any assertiveness and work-life balance tips you may have. I promised myself I wouldn’t go bridal (my term for a bride who’s lost her mind) during the wedding planning process, and I need all the help I can get!


THE dress

January 17, 2011

So it turns out my seemingly fortuitous nightmares were completely unfounded. I found my dress within 15 minutes of my try-on-a-thon this past weekend. It was actually the first one I tried on.

I liked it on the first try, but having nothing to compare it to, tried on about 10 others. I kept coming back to that dress. Nothing was meeting its standard. It was simple, yet adorned with all the details I had wanted. Flowy, but not overbearing for a beach ceremony. Light, but covered all my flaws. In fact, I look about 30 pounds thinner in it! (These wedding dress designers are on to something with the corseted backs. If I had the money, I’d hire someone to sew corseted backs into all my clothes. Those things create miracles!).

On top of it all, my mother cried when she saw me in it—the surefire sign it was THE dress. But it seemed too easy.

So I continued on to two other appointments and proceeded to try on about 40 more dresses and endure an hour and a half of one salewoman’s prattling on about her daughter, her loser ex-boyfriend and her new Irish boyfriend of only five months with whom she moved to Ireland, broken up only by intermittent criticisms of my “large bust” and other “problem areas.” (You would have thought I were a 600-pound Pamela Anderson with the way she carried on. I wonder what she says to women who are truly obese. “Let’s see, for a gargantuan girl like yourself, I recommend this white tent to cover up your ‘problem areas.’”) Granted, I never took Wedding Dress Salesperson 101, though I suspect they don’t tell you to repeatedly point out your customers’ flaws, but rather hone in on their good areas and find something that flatters them. Just a suspicion. The craziest part? She was about 80 pounds overweight with back problems. Gotta love it.

But I digress…the point of my post is a. I found the dress of my dreams and b. my pre-dress search anxieties were for naught. Everything worked out, as it tends to. I just need to continue reminding myself that—especially as the big day gets closer!

Hand-eye coordination? No such luck.

January 13, 2011

When I was little, I took a few dance classes and loved them. My favorite was jazz—the closest to modern dance that my dance school offered. I was one of the best in the class. But somewhere along the way, I lost complete control of my hand-eye coordination. Ask me to kick and punch at the same time, and I’m rendered helpless. I literally freeze. Despite this, I still love to bust a move and am dedicated to challenging myself to try new things.

Enter 10-Minute Solution: Fat Blasting Dance Mix—a way for me to get in a strengthening and toning workout (I get very bored with strength-training at the gym) and have fun. I ordered it last week and just popped it in the DVD player tonight. The DVD is very cool. It has five 10-minute workouts that you can do individually (if you’re in a rush), all together (if you’re feeling ambitious) or—get this—you can pick the ones you want to do and build a customized workout for yourself. Tonight, I selected the beginner dance workout (yep, I looked like Elaine from Seinfeld boogeying away, but that’s all right—I was in the privacy of my own home!), the Butt & Thigh Blaster and Ab Attack to create a 30-minute workout.

I had a blast and can already tell I’ll be in pain tomorrow (not pleasant, but a telltale sign it did something). I also ordered 10-Minute Solution: Knockout Body, a collection of kickboxing workouts, perfect for those stressful days when I need to blow off steam.

Here’s to hoping I start feeling stronger and more toned. Or, at the very least, learn some good moves for the dance floor on my wedding day!


Night Terrors

January 12, 2011

This Saturday marks my first outing in search of a wedding dress, and I’m both excited and anxious. I’m foregoing the ooh- and ahh-ntourage of friends and family and simply bringing my mother, who also happens to be one of my best friends and whom I know will be honest with me (She also knows how to handle my occasional freak-outs with a skill and calmness that I can only hope to one day master).

Despite my excitement, I’ve been having night terrors about my impending try-on-a-thon. The first happened a couple weeks ago. In this dream, I arrived at the first shop, and the saleswoman brought out a dress that couldn’t have been further from my style. I kindly told her I was looking for something different, and she replied, “This is all we have for you. If you can’t make it work, you won’t have a dress.” I looked to my mother, only to find she was nodding and agreeing.

In the second, I arrive late to each of my appointments, due to reasons beyond my control, and am thus placed on those stores’ bridal blacklists. Subsequently, every other boutique I try to enter kicks me out.

Okay, silly and somewhat deranged? Yes. But also interesting, because these dreams are pointing to something deeper—I’m apparently more nervous than I’m allowing myself to admit. As I mentioned in my previous post, I’ve recently gained some weight, and I’m not exactly comfortable in my body. The thought of a. a total stranger stripping me down and putting me into dress after dress and b. being forced to examine myself in a mirror over and over from all angles is freaking me out a little.

I’m trying not to think about it and reminding myself that these salespeople see thousands of different body types over the course of the year, so they probably can’t even discern one from the next. As for me, perhaps I’ll find the perfect dress and become so blinded by its beauty that I won’t even have the chance to hone in on my problem areas. A girl can dream, right?

So let me explain…

January 11, 2011

Last April, I got engaged to the love of my life, someone whom I quite frankly don’t know how I lived without for so many years. So, needless to say, I was thrilled when he popped the question (I’ll save the proposal details for another post). A few months later, once my eyes re-adjusted after staring at my ring non-stop, I had a thought: getting married really means I’m an adult now.

Granted I’m 30, and perhaps that should have occurred to me before the ring was slipped on my finger, but I’ve always been one of those people who felt younger than I was. While my friends were all getting married in their mid-twenties, I was still out bar-hopping, rolling my eyes at any use of “we” and living in an apartment the size of my current living room… with another person…and a cat.

So did I start turning in at 9:30 p.m. (okay, well sometimes), scaling down my wine consumption and saying things like “Oh, I’m too old for that”? Hell no! But the realization that I’m officially an adult got me thinking. An adult takes care of herself and does what’s best for her, right? If that’s the case, I’d say I’m a pre-teen or a teenager, at best.

In all material ways, I take care of myself: I have a career that pays decently, I pay my bills on time, I have food in my kitchen. But in the spiritual and mental ways, I often put others first. I’m a grade-A people pleaser. And my skills of assertion deserve an F. I’ll often overwork myself in the office or take on too much in my personal life, often foregoing what I really need – a good workout, time to read a book or do something else I enjoy, a good conversation with a friend. I let things that are said or done go without confronting them then and there, only to obsess and get angry over them later. The result of this neglect of self? I put on a lot of weight over the past three years, got myself into some financial fiascos, developed stomach problems from stress, and saw some of my relationships begin to suffer.

I’ve committed my life to my fiancé. And he deserves a happy, healthy wife who takes care of herself physically and emotionally. And, more importantly, I deserve those things.

So I’ve decided that between the wedding planning, daily work chaos and general social engagements, I’m going to add a little more to my plate (figuratively speaking—I’m actually taking food off it. See below):

  • I’m going to start exercising regularly to relieve stress, up my fitness levels and take off some of that unneeded weight (I’ll be damned if I don’t look fabulous in my gown!)
  • I’m going to become more assertive in both my personal and professional lives
  • I’m going to write more (hence, this blog), because it’s an incredible outlet for me and I love doing it
  • And I’m going to push myself to continually try new things

If you’re still reading, I hope you’ll keep coming back to hear about my adventures in becoming a real adult and heading toward the aisle in November!