The Ugliness of Self-Care

Today I want to talk about self-care. True self-care. Not the romanticized and trendy version the world is constantly pushing down our throats. Not the bath bombs and face masks and #treatyourself high-dollar purchases and ritual meditations the world seems so eager to focus on for peak lifestyles.

No, I’m talking about real self-care. The self-care that is often a very unbeautiful thing.

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Advice To Myself At 18-Years-Old

Last Friday G and I were leaving the county clerk’s office to apply for our marriage license when we ran into one of my high school teachers. Even though I graduated eight years ago (O.M.G. has it truly been that long ago?!) we recognized one another right away. Partly due to me working for him at summer camp for several years, but also because I come from a high school boasting an average of 30 graduating students each year. In other words, there aren’t that many students to forget.

After a bit of catching up, I asked him how his school year had gone and how many more days until summer break. I don’t keep up with my old high school so I was surprised to hear the senior class would be graduating the next day. The whole encounter had me vaguely reminiscing on the past and all the changes which have happened since I stood on the stage myself in my cap and gown.

Then today my Facebook’s daily memory was of my graduation. Looking through my FB photo album of that day in 2010 had so many memories flowing.  I could recall the feelings on that day: the fears of the future, the thrill of college looming, the excitement of my first summer as an “adult.” It was like looking into the life of a stranger. There have been many lessons learned since that day. So many experiences have brought me to where I am today and molded me into this 26-year-old Ashley.

The memories continued as I was lazily scrolling one of my nightly go-to apps and came across a great question posted by RobbeVermont. The user asked,  “What is something you wished you knew when you were 18 years old?” And as I read through the vast majority of the 10,800+ comments I realized so many of the life advice being provided were 110% on the money. Pulling all three discoveries together — the run-in with my teacher, the flashback of my graduation, and this Reddit question — I started listing a few key topics I wished I’d known upon leaving high school and considered what difference hearing that advice as an 18-year-old would have made. Perhaps none, but then again, maybe some…

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#Inspiration: Ceremony Aesthetics

Though I absolutely love writing, I know my last few posts have been very word-heavy. So! To move into a more eye-pleasing post, let’s go to another #Inspiration board, eh?

Today’s topic is on our ceremony decor and ritual. I have been going back and forth on ideas for decor at the ceremony, which is in our church, and finally made a decision on what I want to do. With us running towards the end of our budget, I have no plans to make anymore big purchases so I’m relying on my thriftiness to put the final touches together.

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Expectations vs. Reality

Last week my fortune cookie had a little piece of paper in it which read, “What is the speed of dark?” I was more than a bit confused and wondered how this could be a fortune. I’m not superstitious, but I do like having a sweet, little fortune hanging on the fridge every now and then to make me smile. But this one had me scratching my head.

Fast forward a few days and that odd fortune is still stuck in my mind. I’ve spent the last few nights laying in bed, staring at the ceiling, and reciting, “What is the speed of dark?” Then I happened to reread my notes from our first pre-marital counseling meeting about expectations in marriage versus the reality of marriage and had this surreal connection in how to apply my fortune.

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My Forever & Always

All the relationship advice in the world could not have made a difference in my past experiences of choosing the wrong men. As the saying goes, I was trying to hammer a square peg into a round hole. I would try to find happiness in the wrong relationships, changing myself or attempting to change my SO. I’d try to convince myself I felt a certain way or convince myself that the SO felt a certain way for me. Only to end in tears, heartache, and questioning what I did wrong, why I couldn’t seem to find the right fit, and why I couldn’t get the love I desired.

I spent so much time chasing after guys who wouldn’t or couldn’t give me what I wanted, and then wondered what was wrong with me. The problem was simple: I was choosing the wrong men. I fell for guys who felt right due to commonalities or adventure or chemistry or familiarity or even loneliness sometimes.

That was why my beginning with G was so unexpected. I was accustomed to either temporary relationships that would slip easily away or comfortable relationships where priorities were skewed. However, meeting G was a life-changing experience that has only gotten better with time.

G gave me all the right feelings from Day One.

He has made every effort to put me as his priority and has supported me in every trial, endeavor, and achievement along the way. He loves the person I am even as our personalities differ. He’s proud of me and proud to be with me. He is my calming voice during rages and my comforting home during sorrow. He is the reason I smile throughout the day. He fights for me even while we’re the ones fighting. He loves me deeply now and talks of materializing dreams with me in the future.

And I believe every single word he says with no reason of a doubt.

He is, in the simplest of terms, my Forever & Always.

Now, don’t roll your eyes. I am not saying I found the One. (I don’t believe anyone in this world has a “One.”) But I did find someone I liked and cared for and have a high degree of compatibility with in my little corner of the universe. I found someone who increases my happiness and makes me a better person. I found someone I want to do life with forever.

That doesn’t mean our relationship is flawless though. Neither G nor I found the One to make our futures perfect.

Bottom line: every relationship is a lot of work. G and I recognize this and are willing to commit to working on ourselves and our relationship for the remainder of our lives.

We know we will always be a work in progress.

And THAT is what makes all the difference!

G and I will continuously learn from one another, grow together, attempt to give the other our best, and forgive constantly when we falter. We’ve actively chosen to embrace every raw part of one another  — the good, the bad, and the ugly.

And that is how we move forward with the last 50 days of our engagement and the entirety of our marriage.

Thank you for choosing me to be your Forever & Always, G. I cannot wait to become your wife in only 50 days (HOW IS THIS A THING?!) and begin growing together as a married couple. I love you.

-A

Real Wedding: Rachel + James

When I think of my childhood, there is one smiling face that shows up in more than half of my memories and that is the face of my friend Rachel. Our friendship has been nothing short of adventurous: from riding ATVs up north with no helmets and watching her cousin bite worms in half in order to “fish better” to staying up ungodly hours of the night to watch trash TV to cruising the Caribbean twice to witnessing drug busts in the nation’s capital to acting as one another’s wedding Plus One’s to surviving puberty, high school, and a number of break ups, we have done so much together!

Needless to say, when Rach texted me one January morning to tell me she was now engaged to her high school sweetheart, my heart was bursting! Not only because IT WAS ABOUT TIME, but also because our conversation turned to wedding plans and logistics. As an event coordinator at the Winery still, I started to cry when she took me up on my offer to host her intimate nuptials at my venue AND allow me to help coordinate the Big Day.

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Expectations of Your Bridal Shower

If you’re totally new to the whole bridal shower thing, you are not alone! Last weekend my future MIL graciously threw me a bridal shower with G’s side of the family in his hometown, but going into the celebration I really didn’t know what to expect. I have only been to one shower prior so I was completely unaware of what the event would entail.

In short, at your bridal shower you are the guest of honor as your closest friends and relatives gather to eat, chatter, and lavish you with a truckload of amazing gifts. This is one party you do not need to worry about planning on your own, but it may help to know what to expect so to best be prepared. So read on to discover a few more details on this traditional pre-wedding party used to celebrate and shower the bride-to-be with many well-wishes.

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4 Wise Tips on Preparing for Marriage After the Wedding

I know I’ve said it before, but here I am saying it again: the wedding is only the beginning of what should be the rest of your blissful married life. As husband and wife, you’ll be embarking on years of new adventures after the one day of festivities. Your wedding day is only a grain of sand in the grand beach of your entire life. It is best to prepare for life following the Big Day and not only the day itself.

I am a big believer that if you adequately prepare for something — that is, to prepare mentally, emotionally, spiritually, physically, all of the above — then your chances of success increase substantially. Though I know there will never be enough wisdom and information I can gain to fully prepare for marriage, I do feel I’ve gained a few gems of advice in which to set a firm foundation as a newlywed.

These four gems include advice on communication, clarification, adjustment, and agreement between both the husband and wife in order to have a happy marriage. They touch on possible challenges once you’re married and encourage you to invest in your partner following your vows. They are all examples of how G and I plan to enter our marriage, and I would love to share them with you!

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Knowing Where To Draw the Line on Your Wedding Budget

Okay, time for some tough love. My average wedding while I was a wedding coordinator was $17,000, and I simply received that amount for the venue, tables and chairs, linens, the dinner catering, and the bar tab. For those couples who wished to add music, photography, desserts, decorations, and any other basic wedding niceties, you could be looking at a minimum of another $10,000 added to your budget. The Knot actually stated that the typical modern wedding averages $35,000. My jaw dropped reading that article, actually. For G and I, this *clap* was *clap* not *clap* an *clap* option.

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