Loving Lately: Target Wedges

1, 2, 3, 4

Walked through Target lately? Only every other day. They've got some adorable wedges that I've gathered here for you. Nice of me, I know.

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Loving Lately: Heat Wave

1: jcrew 2: jcp 3: jcrew 4: dsw

The weather is Chicago has been nothing short of fabulous. It's been summer in March and I have loved every minute of it. So here is my dream outfit. Any sponsors?

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Face to Face.

As seen in this post from last weekend, I had the wonderful opportunity to escape Chicago for just a weekend and to visit this fascinating little place called Madison, Wisconsin. It was a much welcomed escape with some friends and it afforded us a bit of time to unplug and just to chat face to face. Many of us work for non-profits and find ourselves working at odd hours from both our offices and our homes. For just a weekend, we left our work behind and enjoyed the excitement of exploring a new city without any obligations.

            One of my friends loves to ask the deeper questions. In times past, she used to carry a book of questions to every gathering, progressing from easy-to-answer questions into deeper, more thought-provoking ones. Now she has them all tucked away in that brain of hers. And she plucks from them when appropriate.

            She asked us:

            What gives you hope?

            What are you proud of?

            And, do you believe that love is a choice?

And we talked about each question, slowly. Thinking. Sharing. Building off one another’s ideas. I reveled in the back and forth, the give and take of a good conversation. Without the distraction of an e-mail. Or a text message. Or a work phone call.

Can you see just how much I enjoyed this? And perhaps, just how much I needed this?

Sometimes I think I become more and more introverted by the day. My mom is worried. She says she already has one daughter just like her husband and she doesn’t need another. Not that my dad is bad. He’s actually quite good. And my sister’s not too bad either. But I think my mom enjoys the pieces of her in me. And really, I do, too.

Sometimes I think I’m losing those pieces. When Adrian and I married, I spent a lot of time alone. Before then, I had never even watched a movie alone. Ever. I think I was afraid to. So when we got married and he had to work different hours than me, I faced my greatest fear: my own company.

And I found, I’m actually not all that bad.

As that first year of marriage went on, I began to enjoy my time alone. Funny that I discovered solitude in my first year of marriage, no? But I did. And I liked it. So much so that I began to let go of some of my friendships and my social interactions, preferring the ease and comfort of my own company.

But in this, my second year of marriage, I’m settling into more of a balance. Time for myself and time for others. Not selfishly hoarding my time, but not freely giving it away either. I realize that teaching and being in front of people all day is exhausting for me and that I relish those twenty minutes when I first get home. When I’m quiet and when I can refocus. But I also love to catch up with good friends. I look forward to those good conversations when I leave and feel a little more understanding and a little more understood.

I don’t want to lose the pieces of me that I’ve found this past year. The more introverted parts. The I just want a few moments to relax quietly parts. But I also want to hang on to the pieces that came before. The extroverted parts. The I love to tell a good story and I’d love to hear your good story, too, parts. I’d like to be a bit of both my mother and my father. I’d like people who know them to meet me and think about how they cannot decide who I resemble more. 

So, in short, thank you, Madison. For all your little restaurants and bars and museums and bars on top of museums. And for the escape. From work. From the bigger city. And from my increasingly introverted self.

I needed that reminder of who I used to be and who I am now. And who I still have time to be.

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Loving Lately: Stripes

1: jcrew, 2: piperlime, 3: katespade, 4: landsend

Who hasn't been loving stripes lately? Honestly. I know you come by here for the originality. 

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I was in Madison, Wisconsin with some friends this weekend. And it was beautiful. I'd never spent time up there but it was wonderful to get out of Chicago a bit and to experience a different city. 

Madison was simply fascinating. It's like middle America meets college town meets cultural diversity. Fascinating, really. While we were there, we walked through two separate protests: one against the governor of Wisconsin (who has done away with unions) and one in support of Tibetan freedom. 

What intrigued me most was the similarity in the colors that permeated the two protests.

Intriguing, no?

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Lives unlived.

Before I begin, may I ask? Is Robert Frost so terribly popular everywhere else as he is in New England? Gosh, I hope so. For your sakes, really.

In keeping with two themes of the week:
1) My sister informed me that a lone quote does not a blog post make. And since I always take criticisms to heart, I will include both a quote and some thoughts. For you, Erin.
2) Difference. But I'll get to that.

Mostly I do not make a habit of dwelling on what could have been. On lives unlived. Generally I accept my lot in life and continue on my merry way, making the most of the life at hand. I am not particularly well off, nor stunningly gorgeous nor talent-show talented. And for the most part, this is okay with me. I enjoy my little life's work. My husband. My tiny apartment. Even my closer-to-death-everyday car which brings me from here to there.

But every now and then, a little glimpse of that life not lived comes into view.

Last night, while perusing the usual blog scene, I came across this absolutely beautiful wedding. And I recognized the location immediately. Adrian and I had planned to get married in that very same stunning barn. My parents had put down a deposit on the barn, a caterer, a photographer. We had everything.

And then I went to Mexico and I met my husband's parents.

We had always planned to do a civil ceremony here in Chicago months before our more formal, church wedding back home in Maine. But after seeing my husband's mother, I just knew that that one wedding in Chicago would be it. Her health was giving her trouble and I just didn't know where we would be in a year and a half. It seemed incredibly irresponsible to spend thousands of dollars on a ceremony I wasn't one hundred percent certain would happen. So we cancelled it. And thankfully, out of the kindness of their hearts, the vendors refunded us the money.

So I returned from Mexico and, with just three weeks time, turned the civil ceremony into the ceremony. I found a photographer here. I bought a white dress. I made decorations. I did everything I could to create an intimate twenty-person backyard wedding.

September 4, 2010 was beautiful.  The ceremony was genuine. Authentic. And best of all, I married this guy that I still really like. And I am truly happy with the decision that I made during that visit to Mexico.

But when I saw those pictures the other night? I cried. For just a moment, I thought about what could have been. If circumstances had been different. If life had been a little easier. Or at least a bit less complicated.

I thought about what could have been if I had taken the other road. If I had stayed for another year at Boston College to get my master's. If I had gone into teaching at a public school in Boston as I had always said I would do. If I had met someone there along the way and married and moved to the suburbs and started a little family.

I probably would have had that wedding. With those pink heart balloons. And the beautiful ruffly dress.

But I didn't.

Because I chose something else. I moved to Chicago to volunteer for a year instead of getting my master's. And I took the job offered to me at the end of that year and became an ESL teacher for a non-profit rather than an elementary teacher in a public school. And I got an apartment in one of the toughest areas in the city rather than moving to the suburbs. And I met my husband, my love.

And when I think of it all that way, when I remember how I got here and who I have become in the process, I let go of those what ifs. They float away like those perfect pink heart balloons. Because while I may not have my master's or a perfectly preserved ruffly dress in my closet in the suburbs, I have a job I love, a husband who adores me and a strong sense of who I am and what I am willing to fight for.

And when I lay my head down at night, I am okay with my road less traveled.

In fact, I'm thrilled.

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Loving Lately: Spring Bags

1: dsw 2: asos 3: dsw 4: asos
My dad said he would prefer to see less fashion on this blog. Luckily for everyone else, my dad isn't exactly my target audience. No offense, Paul! So enjoy these spring bags.

And just so it can't be said that I don't value and listen to my readers, here's a little something for you, Paul: Hiram. Towers. Ham radios.

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Re: Irreplaceable

Yesterday, I shared a quote on how to be Irreplaceable. And then I happened to stumble upon this great little satire that was oh-so-fitting. Thank you, Internet gods.

So now, if you were contemplating going back to being plain and boring, be encouraged, dear friend! You need not return to your lemming ways. Be the crazy aunt. Unless of course, you're just trying to fill a black hole that must be filled with attention.

 For more Brini, click here!

While we're on the topic: if Brini ever retires, I will gladly change my name to something more interesting and take her place. Must go place a checkmark on my life's to-do list, "Find dream job."
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Do not forget this, friends. You must be different. Happy start to the week!

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