5 Resolutions Worth Setting

I’ve never been one to make New Years resolutions. I tend to stick with yearly goals, holding more accountability to my success rather than making a simple statement of something I want to do in the new year. One way to do this is by taking baby steps rather than resolving to make drastic life changes. Any progress is good progress, so start small and consider the aspects of life which will help you reach your goals in the long run. Here are five resolutions I believe are worthy to be set every year:

1. Stay Positive
Something negative will happen in 2015. Something will break, someone will hurt you, something will be lost. Remember you cannot control everything! So do what causes you to heal and let it go. It is normal to have a wide range of human emotions, but focus on developing the majority of those emotions to be positive. As long as you did your best, there is no reason for you to be ashamed of any failures. Keep moving forward.

2. Get Physical
The most overly exaggerated and overly failed New Years resolution, getting physical can mean many things. The trick is to not make your goal to be about weight loss or vanity, but simply to become healthier. Make an easy goal such as using your body for only 15 minutes a day and then work your way to more. The benefits will quickly become apparent to you, both mentally and physically.

3. Practice Kindness
Take it upon yourself to extend genuine warmth to everyone you encounter, be they new acquaintances or old friends. There is something to be said for the person who can fully embrace those around them. Choose to be fully supportive of those around you. All of us are valuable parts of the human race and all of us have numerous purposes (with some still waiting to be discovered.) No one is greater than another, and it is important to be kind and caring to anyone whose struggles, outlooks, opinions, and/or beliefs differ from our own.

4. Be Happy
Your happiness does not depend on anyone or anything other than yourself. If you want to create, then write or paint or craft. If you want to be richer, then save. If you want to be in love, then find someone who fits the mold. What are you waiting for? You have the ability to do whatever you want! Go be happy with your life.

5. Become More Aware
It seems that the world is becoming less and less aware of what is going on outside of social media. Similar to what was mentioned in my The Facebook Fear post, it’s important to evaluate how much time you spend using technology. Then adjust accordingly. Perhaps reserve an hour a day to be completely digital free. Instead, read a book, do volunteer work, go outside, meet a friend for drinks. Just get away from the monitor and your all-seeing smart phone. There’s nothing more rewarding than making yourself more aware of the world around you, and you might even strengthen your interpersonal connections in the mean

#blessed

As the new year roars closer and closer and Christmas celebrations are already in the rear view window, I cannot help but consider how extremely blessed I am. In every aspect of my life I am blessed. And though I tend to focus on the positive experiences, the negative ones truly help me to pay attention to the endless blessings being passed down every day of my life.

With this in mind, it seems almost humorous that I happened to see this status by an acquaintance of mine on Facebook last week:

“Christmas is only 3 days away, which means we’re only 9 days away from Facebook being filled with a million statuses about the wonderful year our FB friends have had. Yes, we all know, you’re #blessed.”

Reading this made me quite angry. I’m sorry, but it warms my heart to know so many of my friends are blessed. Yes, my News Feed has been flooded with end-of-the-year picture collages and photo videos featuring my Facebook friends’ biggest events in 2014. And yes, I may skim over them without actually reading through, but guess what? Every time I see a friend of mine being thankful for how #blessed they are, I smile.

I feel genuine happiness for these people who are satisfied with yet another year. Especially for those who I know have experienced hardships like death of loved ones, break ups, and illness. Seeing such thanks for the positivity in their lives rather than dwelling on the negative experiences is not something to scoff at — it’s yet another thing to be grateful for!

So to my friends and family I welcome all your good tidings from 2014 and I pray for an even more #blessed 2015.

2014 in Reflection

As this year winds down and the holidays demand more of my time, I have a feeling I may not be available to reflect on 2014 if I do not do so right now — so I have decided to post this a little bit early. This year has been one hell of a roller coaster ride with crazy lows and soaring highs. I cannot use my tagline enough: I am truly blessed to have loved, lost and gained so much!

January: I began the year with anticipation of continuing my running training by running at least one race every month. I started strong, partaking in the Niles Frigid 5k where the ice was plenty and the temperatures were under 0 degrees. I even had icicles hanging from my eyelashes when I crossed the finish line!

January also brought some of the best people I’ve ever met into my life: my two roommates. After hesitantly responding to a roommate ad on Facebook, I moved into our cozy apartment to bypass the two hour commute to school. This was a good decision for many reasons, but these girls are the biggest!jan

February: February was by far the hardest month of my whole life. You all know the story, I broke up with my best friend of eight years and my world shattered. I also began a new internship, focused on my 24 credits of study, and maintained two part-time jobs. I was beyond stressed; I was barely holding myself together. My greatest strength during that month were my parents, friends, and faith.

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March: March brought about a break from the mayhem of life when I went on a road trip during Spring Break. After spending the night in Nashville, three of my best girls and myself continued to Florida where we jumped on a Bahamian cruise. I don’t know if I have ever had so much fun! We soaked up the sun, drank some martinis, ate way too much food, and danced every night away. I never wanted the vacation to end.

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April: I achieved my greatest success to date in April: I graduated with my Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Business! After the toughest semester a person should ever have to handle, I was extremely proud of myself. To celebrate, my parents and I ventured to Traverse City, MI for a wine tasting weekend. I was in love.

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May: I joined the professional working world in May when I began as assistant manager for Shadowland on Silver Beach. My responsibilities escalated quickly, and I became the events assistant manager as well. We managed 60 weddings and over 30 business and special events in 2014. I guess my time management during school really paid off!may

June & July: The summer months kept me busy due to the wedding season. However, any free time I found was spent with friends. I met a lot of new people this summer, but I also built upon friendships I already had established. There is nothing better than being surrounded by people who care about you and who you care for back. (Somewhere along these two months I also decided to call off dating for awhile, and was all the more better.)

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August: How can I ever forget this craziness? In August I jumped from 10,000 feet in the air to free fall over 2,000 feet and then coast to a stop in a random Michigan field. Why? Just to say I have!

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September: Unlike most families, mine celebrates their Christmas during September. This is because my grandparents are snowbirds and migrate to Florida before the big Michigan freeze can occur. This year, the family hosted a family reunion. It was great to see my entire family, especially my cousins. We used to be close as children, always terrorizing my grandparent’s neighbors during the summers, but now we’re grown and running our own lives and starting our own families so time spent together is limited.

September also brought along the beginnings of my relationship to Army. On the same evening of the family reunion, we met on a blind date set up by our families. We clicked right away… and have been happy ever since.

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October: I became old in October. An old 23-year-old. I also assisted in hosting the fourth annual breast cancer awareness fundraiser at Shadowland: Little Black Dress Party. The party was a huge hit, bring in the most donations to date. Free carousel rides, delicious hor d’evours, live music and dancing, the opportunity to dress up, and the best photo booth ever were all present to help make the night one never to forget.

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November: I think I visited Chicago more in November than I have in any given year in the past. For Army’s birthday we ventured to the aquarium and my first Bull’s game, and on Black Friday a large group of us went yacht shopping (I was the buyer!) and to the Bean. There are plans to return to the city after Christmas as well, and I cannot wait!

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December: I was offered a new job at the beginning of December, which left me with a tough decision. I chose to take the offer, and end my position at Shadowland come the beginning of the year. For a girl who loves everything to do with weddings, and more importantly loved the people she works with at Shadowland, this decision broke my heart. However, it is one that I believe is for the best and will open numerous doors in my future.

December consisted of a lot of holiday joy. An employee party at the winery ended with Army and me saying the three big words to one another. Presents for friends were crafted, spurring on my Pinterest addiction. Gifts for family were bought during a shopping trip with my cousins. The Hobbit came out, and J. K. Rowling released a number of new stories on Pottermore.

Next up: the actual Christmas celebrations, trip to Chicago, last day at Shadowland, and New Years Party.

It has been a full year and I cannot wait to see what 2015 brings to my life!

Real Wedding: Rebecca + Walt

Okay, guys, I have been waiting since the beginning of November to bring this lovely couple to your reading space! Rebecca and Walt’s wedding was the most entertaining and most adorable one I had the pleasure of assisting with during my time at Shadowland. Not only were they the sweetest people to the staff, but their ideas and creativeness are ridiculous! Just take a look for yourself…

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Rebecca and Walt met in 2009 while out with their friends at Howl at the Moon in Chicago. At the time, Walt was stationed at Great Lakes Naval Base and was in the midst of training. He originally hailed from North Carolina while Rebecca was a Chicago native. From that first chance meeting, the two were inseparable and many train trips were made between the base and the city. However, after only a few weeks Walt had to leave for San Diego for more training. Knowing there was a real connection, the couple decided to try long distance. Six months lately and still going strong, Walt made the decision to pack up a U-Haul and move to Chicago in order to be with Rebecca. Nearly six years later, they were married in beautiful St. Joseph and chose Shadowland Ballroom to be there reception venue. We feel truly honored to be a part of their love story!

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The ceremony was to be very simple and intimate. No programs, no readings, just a focus on the couple’s love. On the stage of the Bandshell, surrounded by all their loved ones, Rebecca and Walt opted to write their own vows and read them to one another. Fighting back the tears, the audience witnessed love becoming one as the newlyweds performed a tying of the knot ritual (fitting as the couple met while Walt was stationed near Chicago during his navy days) and sealed the deal with a kiss.

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Rebecca and Walt always knew they wanted a vintage themed wedding. However, their surprise and pleasure upon finding Shadowland Ballroom was just too perfect. After discovering the history behind the Silver Beach Amusement Park, the couple quickly fell in love with the idea of using such history to create an experience for their guests from beginning to end. With having a carousel right on site of their wedding, the couple reckoned they had no choice but to base their wedding’s theme on the history of the area.

From the very beginning, the couple made plans as to how their wedding day would evolve. Rebecca is an art teacher and was determined to have her hands in every aspect of the decor and theme, so their entire wedding was do-it-yourself.

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The bride and her parents shared many adventures antiquing and handpicking every bottle, jar, and soda pop crate used for centerpieces.  120 antique bottles were arranged by the couple, along with “gathered from the side of the road” textured and natural floral creations of Stella Event Design. The look was meant to be eclectic, as if they were remnants of a traveling carnival.

Speaking of travel, the couple utilized a vintage globe as a perfectly unique guestbook. But the special touches did not stop with these details though! Each table at the reception was named after an old-time carnival ride and held a “Did You Know?” card with a few fun facts on the rides’ histories.

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To make their guests’ experience even more authentic, the couple spent several hours building their own ticket booth. As guests entered the boardwalk, they encountered this booth and received their ticket, which directed them to their correct table and seat. Unable to let the crafting end there, Walt also designed a vintage push ice cream cart (equipped with a kissing bell) as a card holder. It was a huge hit among guests!

The creative couple also thought outside decor when it came down to details for their wedding. Guests were transported back to their childhood days with fresh popped popcorn and hand-spun cotton candy inside the Silver Beach Carousel. The bar was tastefully donned the name “The Drink Show” where attendees could wonder upon the couple’s signature cocktails: The Bearded Lady or Midge’s Apple Cider Champagne. Even the desserts kept to the theme as various flavored pies dotted the Pie Stand, just as if one were walking through a country fair.

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The fun continued all night long as the couple and their family and friends danced the night away. There was a few minutes when a late-night hot dog bar interrupted the dance moves. As the bride hails from Chicago and the groom from North Carolina, it seemed only fitting that the bar’s toppings paid homage to the couple’s hometowns. Guests were able to make their own Chicago or Carolina dogs and wrap them in retro hot dog foils. owens4

Rebecca and Walt’s wedding exemplified their ultimate goal: to share their love with their family and friends in an entertaining and unique way. As their loved ones were from two very different parts of the country, their wedding was a special occasion to bring these two parts and make them into one. It was a great celebration! Thank you for sharing your special day with all of us here at Shadowland! last

New Year, New Possibility

Isn’t it weird how things seem to pop up at the most random times and in the most inconvenient (yet in some regards convenient) ways? I have been stressing this past week. I have been stressing hard. One of those weird, random “things” has happened to me and though it’s actually a great opportunity, it gives me a heavy heart.

Last week I was approached by the owner of the winery where I work. The winery is actually a side business for him; he actually is a farm broker who owns his own business called Heartland Agriculture. He wondered if I might be interested in taking the role as his personal assistant…. and I have decided to accept his offer.

I didn’t actually think too much about the proposal until I went home and spoke to my parents about it. I mean, I am ridiculously happy at Shadowland. I love the people I work for and with, I love being surrounded by everything wedding-related, I love having the ability to be creative, I love being about to blog — I mean, seriously, I just love the job. Working in the wedding industry has always been my dream, and I was lucky enough to enter my dream straight out of college. How many people are able to say that?!

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The only issue with Shadowland is that it is a very well known and respected wedding venue. Awful, right? For a young girl with social needs, though, this is a problem. At Shadowland we have weddings Friday, Saturday, and Sunday every week from March to October. In 2014 we had 60 weddings with events thrown in almost on a weekly basis. I didn’t mind this summer when I was single and not ready to mingle, but now with Army and the prospect of every summer weekend taken in 2015, I have been worrying a bit on what this prospect held for my budding relationship, and my social life in general.

The other downside to Shadowland is the income. I am very lucky to have been offered a full-time gig right out of college, but the work done at Shadowland is tough. We work our butts off, usually working at least twelve hour shifts on event nights. This means a typical week in the summer averages around 55-60 hours, and we are salaried. With no benefits, as the facility is technically a nonprofit, this hard work sometimes seems too much to handle. Not that I’m not up to the challenge, but there is virtually no possibility of advancement either. So we exhaust ourselves to the promise of staying in the same position indefinitely.

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At Heartland, I will be expected to hold a 40 hours work week, but with no weekend expectation. I also, on top of a pretty good starting salary, am offered profit sharing and paid vacation. I actually can see the end of my student debt when I crunch the numbers (something that is obviously VERY important!)

The work itself will also be something new to me; it requires me going back to school for a realtor’s license and developing new job skills I have only touched upon in college coursework. This concept actually excites me — I’ve always enjoyed learning something new.

The Bossman also made the statement that he is interested in discussing my dream to build my own wedding venue someday. He even suggested partnering with him and building it on the winery’s property someday.

So here I am, being torn in two directions. On one side I have Shadowland:

  • I love the people and the responsibilities of the job.
  • I make a good paycheck, but have no benefits.
  • There is no room for advancement.

And with Heartland:

  • The income and benefits are amazing.
  • Advancement opportunities are virtually unlimited.
  • My ultimate goal may be achieved.
  • I won’t have a big social aspect in the job, which is disheartening as I love people.

In all reality, the pros outweigh the cons tenfold, but still…

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I mentioned I was stressed. That is because I have decided to take the offer with Heartland and leave Shadowland. Now I have to tell my good work friends my decision, and I am dreading the move. There is so much I was looking forward to with Shadowland in 2015! However, there is a little piece of me that is beyond excited for a new beginning with Heartland and now possibilities of my future.

Wish me luck; I’m sharing my news tomorrow…