Friday Wedding Meditation: Waiting

29 Jun

We’ve heard the cliches from people planning weddings: “I’m just ready for the wedding to be over.” and “We should just elope!” Most of our engagement, even thought parts have been extremely frustrating, I have managed to avoid saying these things. The past couple weeks, though, I have at least been telling a few people, “I am just ready to be on the beach in Hawaii.” Part of this is because, even though we still have a lot of things to do before the wedding, the list is now at the point where we COULD rush and do it pretty quickly if we had to.  It’s also nice to remember that after the stress of planning, I will be laying on a beautiful beach– and soon! I don’t want it to just be OVER though– I want to be present for the rest of our engagement AND the wedding! And I AM excited for that part too! I’m excited for lots of friends and family to be here and for the wedding itself. I should start telling people that instead of the more negative-sounding, “I just want to be on the beach.”  I don’t want to just be ready for the wedding to be here either, though. I want to enjoy the next couple months of being engaged. Sometimes married couples say things like, “Before we were married…” or “When we were engaged…” and it’s cool to think about that time they’re talking about is NOW! So here’s a little meditation on all of this:

Sit quietly and pay attention to your breathing.
As your thoughts start to quiet, pay attention to your body. Are you hot or cold? Are you tired or energetic? Don’t try to change these things, just notice them.

As you sit, noticing your breath and your body, slowly start to think about your emotions in this moment.
If you are excited, you can say to yourself, “I am getting married soon and I am excited.”
If you are nervous, you can say to yourself, “I am getting married soon and I am nervous.”
If you are stressed out, you can say to yourself, “I am getting married soon and I am stressed out.”
If you have a number of feelings rush to the surface, try to name each one.

Don’t try to change your feelings. Just notice them.
Try not to get caught up in why you feel the way you feel. If you find your mind starting to wander, take a breath and come back to your breathing.

Breathe in and smile. You are here right now.
Breathe out and remember this is a wonderful moment. You have already arrived.

Friday Wedding Meditation: Concentration

22 Jun

It is still more than two months until our wedding, but I am already having trouble concentrating on other things. Why do work when (besides it being a bit slow because of the summer) I can look at potential snorkeling trips for the honeymoon or chat with everyone I know who is online about wedding plans? Because if I don’t, I will 1) Not get any work done in the next couple months and 2) Lose my mind. So here is my attempt at a meditation to help with concentration on things OTHER than weddings.

Sit for a moment with your breath. Notice it going in and out of your nose. As thoughts arise, notice them, and try to come back to your breath. At first your mind may seem very noisy and it may be hard to notice your breath at all. Let your to-do list, your doubts, your nervousness, your excitement come to the surface and then pass away. Take each thought as it arises and speak to it. You may say, “Hello, excitement,” or “Hello, worry.” Your thoughts and feelings will still be there to come back to if you choose to let them go for now. Slowly, your mind will quiet.  As it does, you can shift your focus to a task you would like to complete. If more distracting thoughts arise, say hello to them and gently let them go.

 

 

Friday Wedding Meditation: Breathing through a to-do list

15 Jun

So I think, partially in an effort to write here more frequently, and partially to encourage my own meditation practice, I am going to try to write a little Zen meditation related to wedding planning each week. Here we go.

Put away your to-do list and sit in a comfortable position. Take a few seconds and notice your breath. Is it deep or shallow or somewhere in between? Don’t try to change it; just notice it. You may feel very busy and like there is a lot for you to do. Realize, with an in breath, that there is nothing  you need to do in this moment except to pay attention to your breathing.

Breathing in, I am happy
Breathing out, I release my tension surrounding my to-do list

Breathing in, I feel the support and love of those around me
Breathing out, I let go of my judgment of myself

Breathing in, I smile to my partner
Breathing out, I surrender to the process

Take a few more moments to watch your breath. When you are ready, take out your to-do list again. Look at the first task you will take on. Remember as you set out to accomplish it, you need to think only about that one task. If you feel yourself getting tense, come back to your breath.

Being a Pain in the Ass

14 Jun

A couple weeks ago, on APW, Michelle wrote about how her wedding day didn’t have anything to do with shaping her marriage but the engagement process did.

She wrote, “It was the months leading up the wedding where the start of our marriage was the most affected. The process is where the real foundation started to build itself. It was in the planning where we learned skills on how to work with each other towards a common goal. Those months were when we first had to manage a budget together, when we had to make decisions with level heads, and when we both had to learn how to compromise without feeling like we lost the battle.”

I responded, “Thanks for this. I was just thinking that some of what I am learning is how obnoxious I can be, haha. Uh oh. But using that as a LEARNING opportunity and a chance to work on that is a much nicer way to think of it than using it as some kind of marriage forecaster.”

I agree with Michelle and many others that the engagement is important– that it sets the foundation for being your own family, that it helps you learn to make decisions together, and that it brings you closer to each other’s families. But how can I do what I talk about in my comment and work on the ways that I can be such a pain in the ass?

I don’t like the term “Bridezilla.” As Meg talks about in the APW book, a lot of the time it is about “making you crazy, then calling you crazy.” You are expected to plan a major event at the same time you are going through a major life transition and then people slap a demeaning gendered stereotype on you when you get stressed out about it. Part of me, though, has still been a little proud of how I’ve avoided being a brat about a lot of the stereotypical things. I patted myself on the back for being so easygoing that I let my bridesmaids pick their own dresses, not caring at all when J’s grandmother picked a cream colored dress to wear, and letting a lot of the superficial stuff go. However, I am trying to acknowledge some ways that I have been emotionally trying on those around me *cough…J…cough*, beyond what is fair given the stress that Meg describes. I may not be acting like a brat about decorations or favors but I’ve been a brat about the stress I’ve felt, about crafts not going the way I’ve wanted them to, and about making sure things are done on time. I’m moody and I catastrophize things out loud to J more than I am even doing in my mind–  maybe because I want to be reassured (it is probably good for me that he doesn’t put up with crap and tells me I am being dumb instead of trying to sooth me though sometimes I wish he leaned a little more toward the soothing side), but also largely out of habit. And when I get into this cycle where I am yelling about things being so stressful and wrong, I start to feel more like they are stressful and wrong, but mostly feel like I have to yell even more to justify why I started doing it in the first place.

So how do I stop? I want to work on the way I act. I want to not only get my anxiety more under control (which I have done a lot), but also to start ACTING in a way that reflects this.

It makes me more thankful for J when I realize I’m in this mode. But also, I’d like to be better about it. Maybe I need a buzzword. Something to “click” when I’m acting moody to help myself snap out of it. How do you change reactions and behaviors in yourself that are just as much habit as they are real reflections of how you feel?

Anxiety, OCD, and Wedding Planning

12 Apr

I have had anxiety, sometimes including OCD tendencies, since I was a kid, and it has been more prominent at some times than others. Often it flares up in times of change– notably,  graduating high school and going to college and finishing grad school. I somehow largely avoided it when I was graduating from college, maybe because I was so excited to move out to California. It could also be, though, that those times of high anxiety were caused by traumatic events that happened around the same time ( a car accident with my best friend the summer between high school and college and witnessing a man lose his leg near the end of grad school), or maybe it was the combination of trauma and transition (oooh, alliteration!).  Still, I want to be mindful of my anxious tendencies leading up to the wedding and marriage.

There are lots of sticking points that could aggravate it. There are so many messages saying your wedding has to be perfect that even someone who isn’t normally anxious might, for example, want to be sure every single dish is done, and every single hair is shaved off of her legs before she leaves for the venue so that she doesn’t think about these things during the MOST IMPORTANT DAY OF HER LIFE. I don’t want to obsess over every single stray hot glue string. The wedding industrial complex is already telling me that if all of these things aren’t PERFECT, then I clearly don’t care about my wedding, and therefore clearly do not care about my marriage, which is clearly not going to be a good one. I don’t want or need  my anxiety disorders to tell me that too.

So I am doing my best not to listen to those outside  messages and to use the internal ones as an opportunity. When I was going to the counseling center at my grad school, my wonderful therapist encouraged me to just not listen to my “magical thinking” (If you do this, or don’t do that, then something BAD will happen). By defying it, and reinforcing that bad things don’t  happen when I don’t listen, I help myself heal. Every time I fold a flower and set it down even though the crease isn’t perfect, I am healing. It’s just one of the many gifts of this process.

Asking for help

28 Mar

I have heard several times now, while wedding planning, that it is important to ask for help, and that when people offer help, to say yes. And yet, I almost did what the people giving this advice did (which is probably why they gave me the advice). Every few weeks during wedding planning I’ve had an evening or afternoon when I’ve gotten really overwhelmed. Usually it is a bit after completing a major task. After each of these, booking the venue, buying my dress, signing the catering contract, I’ll get a rush…”We are checking things off! We are making this happen!” And then comes the panic, “But there are so many more things to do! I thought I was checking something off but really I was just adding a million little things on!” For example, after our meeting with our new caterer, I was excited, but then I realized we now had to schedule a tasting, figure out the champagne situation, acquire a cake knife, figure out what our nieces want to eat, ETC.

A lot of people have offered to help with crafting. My major crafting project has been origami flowers and I’m actually almost done! Yay! I didn’t really want help with those anyway. It felt like a personal goal I had to meet. I wanted to say I folded all the flowers for our wedding. Also, I was reading in the APW book about different purposes of crafting, one of them being to keep your hands and mind busy while processing a major life transition, and I think the flowers have served that role for me. When I finish those, the boutonnieres and place settings might fill in, but I am not as emotionally attached to those so I may end up asking for help.

Other people, though, have told me to tell them how they can help in general. And until now, I hadn’t asked them to do anything, as the major things felt like things I needed to do alone or with Jared, and the smaller things didn’t feel like as big of a deal. Then I realized that if I ask for help with the smaller things, the ones that I don’t feel need my personal touch, or I’m not as emotionally invested in, the bigger things won’t seem as overwhelming. So I started by asking my sister if she would be responsible for making sure my attendants have ordered their dresses and shoes. And she said of course! So that’s one less thing I have to worry about. 🙂 So now I have to think of some more things I can ask for help with. Here are my ideas so far:

  • Set up and clean up of the venue
  • Making sure the hotel accommodations are set
  • Decorating for the ceremony and reception
  • Addressing and stamping invitations

This will already make things easier. 🙂

 

On things being bad. And then pretty good again.

19 Mar

Things being the wedding planning. I can’t write a lot of details yet, because we don’t know all of how we’re going to handle it, but basically, our caterer turned out to be a scam artist and we ended up out $700 and a caterer. The few days after we found out sucked. I felt embarrassed and sad and angry, but also relieved that we found out now and not the day of the wedding (when he probably would have not shown up or shown up, dropped off a cold tray of veggies and a bag of lettuce, and left). When Jared called me, I very consciously focused on my breathing. Not just as an exercise, but because I needed to. I actually reacted better than he and my mom thought I would, largely because when he said, “This is really going to upset you,” my first thought was that someone was dead or in the hospital, and I was relieved it wasn’t something like that.  But then in the few days after that, I went a little nuts, worrying about the rest of our vendors and decisions. I went back and forth between not wanting to do anything, wedding-related or otherwise…other than sleep, and freaking out about what would happen if the person I hired to do my makeup and hair didn’t show up. And I took a lot of that depression and anxiety out on my mom and Jared, which felt pretty awful too.

Things are getting better now though. We went to a meeting with another caterer, and they are more expensive than we were hoping, but there are lots of extras (reception coordination! tostada cup appetizers! a going away basket for the bride and groom with champagne, appetizers, sandwiches, and cake!) that are included. We made a master task list with a column for me and a column for Jer, so I can, at least theoretically, not stress out about the things on his side of the list. I am back to feeling pretty confident that the other vendors will follow through, and that if they don’t, it will be ok. Yesterday we went to look at men’s wear, and seeing Jared all dressed up made me happy and remember more what this is all about.

There’s still a lot to do and it is expensive and time consuming, but the important parts– that we are getting married and that people we love are going to be there to celebrate with us– are taken care of!