The Marrying Kind

I’m beginning to think I’m not the marrying kind.

-Carrie Bradshaw, Sex and the City


There was once a time in my life where I actually quoted that shit out loud. To other people. Who might have been listening.

In high school and college (admittedly my prime SATC-watching years) I had a recurring wedding dream. I pictured myself walking down the isle toward my groom. Each time, in a full–on black and white filter–he would turn around and all I would see is a faceless man in a tux.

Those were my only wedding dreams.

And here I am, fianced. After all of the years¬†of recklessness with other people’s hearts, I am responsible for this one very important heart. That responsibility is the honor and privilege of my lifetime. Never in my wildest dreams did I think that I would be planning a wedding at 30 years old with a man I love. Frankly, it surprised me when I made it to my 27th birthday, let alone making it to a life worth living with a person worth loving.

Needless to say, I am a reluctant wedding planner but a willing¬†bridal participant. The level of details that go into a one-time wedding event stultify me. Except¬†for the hours moments I go on Pinterest or get a phonecall from one of my best friends; those tend to be actual fun. Left to my own devices, I would walk my candy-ass to a courthouse and get married in the city of Richmond. I know I’d regret it, so I have to keep reminding myself that I am not the only one whose dreams I need to consider.

Despite the frenetic degree of google-doc’ing, one of the best things to emerge¬†from this engagement is my burgeoning spiritual practice. I’ve maintained a joyful and fun daily yoga practice with the Gaia and Yoga With Adriene online communities. But I realized last week¬†that I needed more. I started meditating again, this time taking my spiritual cues from Krishna Kaur and Gabby Bernstein. I feel lighter and more willing to chill. My yoga and meditation practices commune¬†to bolster my self-esteem.

I still curse a lot, but I don’t want that to¬†ever change.

I maintain that gratitude for where I am today keeps me present. I know that being engaged or planning a wedding doesn’t define me anymore than singledom or marriage ever did or ever will. That knowledge of “enoughness” within me, as-is, remains the second best thing to emerge from this process. I still get caught up in the budgets and the apparent infinity that is wedding color schemes, but it doesn’t mean that I have to stay caught. Loved ones tell me to enjoy the planning process, which I intend to take to heart. Otherwise I will continue to rail against 1). The Wedding Industrial Complex and 2). The Patriarchy.

I am and always will be a compulsive, over-thinking, excitable, loving and inappropriate woman. As it turns out, I am enough.

I am the marrying kind.

 

 

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Go On, Give A Little

It took the better part of a year for me to realize that though my own orbit is speckled with all kinds of cool people and things, the world does not, in fact, revolve around me. The trouble with being overly sensitive or too hell-bent on self-improvement is that I inadvertently become the center of my own universe, and for someone with a brain wired like mine, that can only mean trouble.

The most important lesson sobriety has taught me is that the only way I stay better emotionally and spiritually is by being there for someone else. This bit annoys me to a certain degree, considering that I am not a saint and there are many people who I feel do not deserve my unique blend of kindness and generosity. This may or may not make me a betch but I have had to learn not to over commit to people who aren’t really there for anyone other than themselves. That being said, exercising discipline by calling people I might not know that well or sitting with them for coffee to actually listen to how they are doing, has eroded my ego quite a bit. It is a lesson to me that I have such an ego problem in the first place, but once I saw my fears as the real ego-culprits, I felt much better about knowing my own character defects.

When I am helping someone work through an issue, I cannot possibly focus on my own problems. It is virtually impossible to do two things at once. Though I tend to carry on full-blown conversations with myself in my mind, nine times out of ten, a conversation with someone else is almost always more interesting because it is unpredictable. I practice listening, particularly when I do not want to because it is my way of learning selflessness while donning my best attentive face.

I would be remiss if I didn’t note here how my friends and relative strangers have been incredibly generous and thoughtful to me with their time and resources. I have gotten a premier education in selflessness through these people who I would be lucky enough to even attempt to emulate. For today, at least, I’ll give in and give it a try.

Photo courtesy of Alana Jones-Mann

Along Gratitudinal Lines

I will be the first to admit that riding the bus in LA brings out just about every negative or unsavory thought and emotion from deep within my psyche, where I have managed to keep them at bay for almost a year’s time. When I board the bus to find my seat, my senses are almost always immediately assaulted by one noxious odor after another. I have some real questions here, people…like why does it always smell like someone up and defecated in the middle of the isle? Is this the best place for you to pass gas, in confined corridors? Real questions.

Forgive me, my privilege is showing.

I’ve gotten on the right bus going the wrong direction; I’ve taken the bus on time and have gotten off three stops too early, having to walk a mile out of the way to my destination, and it’s only been a week. Up until a couple of weeks ago, I’d been terrified to expose my directional weaknesses to avoid the inevitable hiccups of public transportation. The truth is, I don’t have the money to spoil myself on Lyft rides, let alone car payments. I feel most challenged to pivot straight to gratitude when I am at the mercy of the public transportation system. I know myself well enough to know that when I am ungrateful, my brain starts overpowering my spirit, and that reminds me a great deal of how I justified my drinking in the first place.

One such night last week stood out to me where I needed gratitude to protect and defend my sanity. I watched myself pitch a major internal bitch fit, followed swiftly by a categorical Terrible-Two’s toddler-like meltdown. I had accidentally ridden 20 minutes in the wrong direction, which gave my brain permission to shift into self-pity that I couldn’t better my situation at that moment, not to mention disappointment in my attitude. This is where my sober brain took over to show me a split-second of reasonableness. I knew from experience what a cute couple acceptance and gratitude made. I have written at least one gratitude list a day for the better part of a year to practice for moments like these that threaten my serenity. I dried my tears, silently praying to my higher power to say “Thank you”. I continued, saying “Thank you for my health and safety. Thank you for this bus driver. Thank you for keeping me sober in this time of distress”. I witnessed the chemistry of my thoughts change. I realized after a solid 10-minutes of exercising gratitude, I felt MUCH better.

I have every reason in the world to be grateful. Everything happening in this span of 24 hours is just as temporary for me as it is for everyone else, even those who drive their very own cars. This is the time to wake up to the beauty that it is to be a 28-year-old female in the middle of Tinsel Town with the coolest people I have ever met as friends. Seeing my surroundings as they are, not as I would have them to be, makes the margin of ingratitude that much smaller. My gift as a human is to tune out all of the distractions–including my own thoughts and feelings–that fool me into thinking things are not exactly as they should be at this very moment. I once had a coworker/mentor tell me that when I got to be so dismissive of my own reality that I was “just trippin”. I laugh a little when I see how silly it is to get myself all whipped into a mental lather about how much I don’t have or how much I need to still do to be successful. I am exactly where I need to be. And so are you.

xx