Tuesday, July 22, 2014

California Coastal Wedding Ideas: Location, Bakeries, Shoes, and A Song from the Movie Babe

The first of my "ten in three" goals is to get married!

Sean and I are currently working at getting details polished and ready to go, and I find that it is both fun and so totally all-encompassing to be planning a wedding. I find that I really do want to share some of the details with you, but still not give away too much. :)

We are getting married on the Northern Coast of California, outdoors, along a bluff, at one of my favorite places on Earth. Right where that fence is ... that is where we will say "I do."

For cakes, we are going with the one and only Franny of Franny's Cup and Saucer. She is out of Point Arena, and she and her mom, Barbara make some delicious baked goods and pastries (and awesome gluten free ones, too!). The cake below is one with a fence; a bit like the one we will see at our location. I haven't finalized anything yet; but I think ours will have a similar design.

I'm going to be making the invitations myself. In a former life, I made stationery, so it feels so good to get back to doing that again. I'm still playing with the template (and need some more ribbon and a different sized hole punch), but here is my inspiration from Etsy. This image is from Decadent Designs:

A little peek at footwear... Since we're going to be getting married outside, and walking along a dirt trail to get to the location I wanted to find some flats. But, I also REALLY wanted to find another pair of pumps or heels that I could wear for the reception and dinner, because I'm super short. So.

What does one do? They find this peacock shoe on Modcloth and order both the flat and the heel IMMEDIATELY!!!

And lastly, music, ceremony music. I want the processional to be something unexpected. For my first wedding, we walked in to Pachelbel's Canon in D. (I was, and still am, obsessed with the movie "Father of the Bride." It's Steve Martin. I love him. Especially when he's arrested for removing the superfluous buns from the packages in the supermarket. Tell me you know what I'm talking about!?!)

Do you know the song "If I had words" from the movie, Babe? It's in the scene where Babe the pig is feeling sorry for himself and won't get up off the couch. Farmer Hoggett sings him a song, and then dances to it. I cry every time I see James Cromwell finish that jig, because it's such an act of gorgeous love and celebration.

When Zoom was a baby, there were a handful of songs that I sang again and again. "I know you," "Swing low, sweet chariot," "Where have all the flowers gone," and ... "If I had words."

Zoom recognized the song when he saw the movie. Now, since he knows that I LOVE that movie, he will ask me, "Momma, you do the Babe dance?" And that means that I'm supposed to do a very heartfelt and un-choreographed dance around the room, jumping and spinning and singing. And then I'm done and he claps. And I try not to cry.

If I had words to make a day for you,
I'd sing you a morning golden and new
I would make this day last for all time
Give you a night deep in moonshine

So, I present this goodie as the current front runner for the processional. I will want to edit it a bit. My attendants will include my twin niece and nephew, and my sweet Zoom. I'll cry like a fool. With so much promise and love in the lyrics, how could you not love this song?

What do you think about non-traditional music for a wedding processional? I'd love to hear your thoughts!

And, want to see some more Wedding Ideas? Check out my Pinterest board!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The Search for Balance: New Priorities as a Working Mother

I'm no stranger to busy-ness. I work, I have a three year old son, and I'm studying for the PMP (Project Management Professional) exam, I'm planning a wedding, and planning a retreat.

Appropriately, the retreat is on .... balance.

Life Changes Make us Rethink Priorities
Balance has been that thing I've been searching for over the last three years. I had a child, and our lives changed. What once had been do-able (long hours, getting home after 8pm, working weekends) was no longer acceptable. I longed to spend time with my little Zoom.

Since the time he was very young, I had this achey feeling that each moment I didn't spend with him was a moment that I would never get back, that I might miss little things, special things, and that when it was all said and done, no paycheck or bonus or plaque or LinkedIn endorsement would make up for any moment lost with my son.

It's not that I stopped caring about work, but it's that I started caring about something else.

And the search for balance was on.

Balance vs. Perfection
In the last few weeks I've been reading a lot about balance. I think one of my favorite takes on the topic is by the author Elizabeth Gilbert (of Eat, Pray, Love fame). She wrote the following on her Facebook page:

"We are constantly being told that we should be achieving balance — that we should somehow exquisitely be negotiating the relationships between our work lives, our home lives, our romantic lives, our health and well-being, our spiritual selves. You can't read an interview with a famous woman these days that the journalist does not applaud her for having achieved BALANCE....and then if you turn the pages of that magazine, you will find ten more articles showing how you can achieve balance. too!

Be careful...

The word BALANCE has tilted dangerously close, I fear, to the word PERFECT — another word that women use as weapons against themselves and each other. ...

That being the case, I dropped the myth of BALANCE a long time ago. (I buried it right next to PERFECT.) My life seems happiest — as I tried to explain to this young woman the other night — when I just surrender to the madness, and embrace the glorious mess that I am...and also when I embrace the glorious mess that everyone else is, and the glorious mess of the world itself. My life gets the most painful when I try to set the entire mess (myself other people, life itself) into order. "

I feel funny even copying her words because my goodness, it's Elizabeth Gilbert, but I have to say this made me smile. And it made me think a whole lot about this elusive search for balance.

When we, as modern, amazing, delightfully smart men and women say that we want "balance" in our lives, are we actually saying that we want to be able to cram in all the stuff that we're supposed to be doing, and making it look easy?

And what exactly is all the stuff we're supposed to be doing? Having a clean house? An organized garage? A stocked and sparkling refrigerator? A full social calendar and exciting potlucks scheduled with our neighbors?

I don't actually know anyone that lives like that. (Although Pinterest would have me think otherwise.) And here we are, like Ms Gilbert reflects, butting up on the ideals of "perfection," strangely masked as "balance."

Re-Balancing to Match New Priorities
But back to balance ... I'm not sure I'd thought of balance in those terms before, but then again I kind of feel like this might be truer than I'd like to admit. As a new mom, I wanted to find a way to do "ALL THE THINGS,"  and my brain wasn't coming to terms with the fact even from a time perspective, there was no way to do all of that.

And even more importantly, from a heart perspective, if I got really honest with myself, I didn't really want to do all of those things anymore, because I had new priorities. I didn't just want to be a part of the "moments" with my son, but I wanted to lay the foundation for a great family relationship with him. I wanted to be a part of his education, his routines, not a mother who worked hard and was rarely around.

For me, balance really does boil down to matching my priorities and desires with where and how I spend my time. It means that I need to be honest with myself about the things I want to do, and upfront about things that I don't care about (or that no longer serve a purpose for me). 

And after reading Elizabeth's words, I think the search for balance is also about letting go comparing myself or my family against an unattainable portrait of perfection. It will take a mindful and willful focus to let that go, for sure. 

How do you see balance in your life? What kinds of things have changed your priorities? Did you have to re-evaluate your definition of balance at that time?

Monday, July 14, 2014

A Twenty Year Reunion at UC Santa Barbara

A couple of weeks ago we packed up the car and headed south to Santa Barbara for a twenty year reunion of myself and five of my closest buddies. Here's part of the road near Cachuma Lake. I love those California Live Oaks.

The planning for the trip had started years ago, as my friends and I realized that we were nearing the twenty year mark of having graduated.

It was a great trip. We stayed in the guest quarters of a private home that I found on Home Away. The gardens of the home were lovely and it was a little like living in the book "A Secret Garden." We had free reign of this gorgeous patio!

The bed was comfortable and we felt slightly spoiled by the lovely linens and pretty bathroom.

On the first day, we went to the East Beach. Zoom loved playing in the water and chasing "hoppers."

That night we stopped by Isla Vista, which is the college town next to UC Santa Barbara. I lived there for two years, at my sorority house. It was nice to see one of the tags Gamma Phi along the wall at the Sig Ep house.

We got burritos at Freebirds (an IV institution, and the original), and then headed back downtown to hear some music. The sky that night was unreal.

We spent the next few days hanging out with old friends, eating great food, and celebrating the 4th of July. One of my favorite moments happened on the last night when we were eating pizza at Woodstock's in Isla Vista. The kids all found their way outside, and in a surreal moment, twenty years after I'd left this lovely college town, they jumped up on the tables outside and started singing and dancing. I guess some things just never change.

My Zoom is the shortest (and youngest) of the crowd of party animals.

On the way home, we stopped off to feed the ostriches and emus at Ostrichland USA. It was a new highlight. I even bought a very cheesy coffee mug!

These emus peck really hard, so you have to hold on to your bowl-attached-to-a-dustpan tightly!

So where are you headed this summer? Any trips down memory lane planned?

Happy Travels!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

About My Last Year in a Terrible Job or Why I Left Advertising

In the book Abundant Simplicity by Jan Johnson, I discovered a quote that hit home pretty hard for me.

"Marketing folks have identified the masters we don't even know we are serving. 'Marketing theory says that people are driven by fear, by the promise of exclusivity, by guilt and by greed, and by the need for approval. Advertising ... promises to resolve our discomfort with a product.' Advertising also plays in to our fears that we won't have enough, that we'll miss out, that we'll be shown to be inadequate, that we'll be misjudged, rejected and left out, that we'll face others' disapproval, anger or disappointment."

This last year I took a job back in advertising, with a former boss who assured me that I could "do the work in my sleep." The office prided itself on being the most profitable of all of the agency's offices across the globe, and boasted having a well known local company as it's "bread and butter" client.

It turned out that I was being hired to work on the worst account in the agency, one that had never kept a project manager or an account manager for a full year. That the profitability came at the price of scheduling all employees well over 50 hours a week, and that the client was a renegade nightmare.

Add to this a CEO who obsessed about what time each employee came in each day, perching himself at the end of the room so he could keep track of each person's attendance. And there was the fear that if your account was doing poorly and showed up on his radar, you'd be lucky if you shook his attention and micromanaging ways.

So you can guess what happened. Our account had a tragic year, with clients changing roles just as we were working on key parts of a large project, and the scope of the project changing wildly up until right before launch. A coupon was going live and we had to have the supporting pages up on our site to support it. And everything came to a head the weekend before this was going live.

That weekend, I got several calls from the CEO. He was worried, and I got the sense that he wanted me to know that this project now had his attention. At a critical point, it became apparent that folks would have to work the Sunday of the weekend. One of our programmers is very religious, and the CEO said to me,"Make sure Bob finds a way to work tomorrow. I know he's a very religious man, but I'm also sure that God would not want us to lose this account. Make sure he understands this!"

In other words, he didn't give a rat's ass about the people on the team, or their religious beliefs, he just didn't want to lose a client.

I felt sick to my stomach as he said this. Dry heave sick.

It was also right about then that I decided I was over and done with advertising. Sure, I've worked with good agencies, but the fear, or rather the Fear, had jumped in and taken control it was ruling everything we did as an agency. Not only were the principals of advertising being observed in the product we were making (creating ads to entice people to buy a product for fear they were not good enough), but those same principals were ruling the management of our agency. It was fully living up to Johnson's observation above that, "Advertising also plays in to our fears that we won't have enough, that we'll miss out, that we'll be shown to be inadequate, that we'll be misjudged, rejected and left out, that we'll face others' disapproval, anger or disappointment." 

During that phone call, I was well aware that I was being asked, if not told to step over some pretty serious personal boundaries. There was NO way I could ask a co-worker to deny his religion, or ask him to work when he'd made his own boundaries around working on Sundays clear to me.

At the same time (and this is what is so different for me than previous jobs with unbalanced management approaches), I had a strong and liberating sense that this man had no control over me. He'd lost my loyalty awhile back, because I couldn't get behind his fear mongering. I saw right through it as a weakness. I know who I am, and I know what's important to me, and I'm not afraid to do what I know is right. I know my faith and know that I am worthy of being loved and respected, at home and at the work place. It's taken a long time to get here. Even if the CEO was nervous about the outcome, I know that I have what it takes to carry the project across the finish line successfully. And I wasn't about to let anyone else's fear or anger or disapproval mess with my head. No, the stakes were too high to let myself get flustered.

You see, I'm one of those project managers that works their butt off to get my job done correctly. I was sacrificing my own time with my family, and I'd spent days' worth of overtime working to get this project out the door. I'm not a slacker. I'm not one of the people you have to worry about.

And so I called Bob's boss. We came up with a different plan to get the work done and let Bob have the day off. And I called the CEO, who likely wasn't pleased because I hadn't followed marching orders and told him what we were doing.

Did we launch on time with that coupon? Damn straight.
Did we lose the client? No. 

Did I look for a new job starting that Monday because I was fed up beyond belief by the total lack of respect for people's beliefs and time? And of a place being driven by fear? Yes.

I couldn't be happier to have left, and to have left on my own terms. I'm happy that I recognized the Fear for what it was, and stood up to it in my own way. I'm pleased that my project launched, and that I stayed true to myself.

And that's what the next three years are all about for me. Staying true, becoming the person I already know I am, and really living out some of the things I know are true - (and to paraphrase Anita Roddick) -  that work can be fun, that it can be conducted with love, and that it can create a powerful force for good.