My Promise to You

Alek and I decided to write our own wedding vows. I did a lot of research in preparation for this most important wedding task. And by research, I mean I Google’d “Wedding Vows.” (Sidebar: there are a lot, shall we say “interesting” wedding vows out there. Like, if you want to get married in the Elvish or Klingon traditions, someone has already done the legwork on that for you. Thanks Interwebs!!)

In the end I found this really great article in Martha Stewart Weddings Magazine that was my inspiration. (Sidebar: Martha Stewart Weddings is hands down, the best bridal magazine. Don’t even bother with anything else, really.) The article said to make sure that if you write your own vows, you don’t just make a declaration of your love to each other – your vows should be a PROMISE that you make to each other.

With this in mind, Alek and I brainstormed our ideas (I love a good brainstorm, don’t you?) and had a lovely dinner with Karen to discuss what we had put together, since a lot of these promises are centered in her wisdom. I think a lot of these promises are also centered in not repeating our pasts and in not losing what we have built together over the last three years.

When you consider that this is the single most important part of a wedding, writing your own vows can seem like a daunting task. But this process was really easy. And really fun. And sparked some beautiful conversations about who we are right now, who we want to be and what we never want to let go of.

Vows

My promise to you is to always be myself, to speak my truth and to let you speak yours too. I promise to always follow my bliss, to cultivate my own life and to let you cultivate yours.

I promise to always have an open mind and an open heart, to be willing to try new things, and to always seek ways to learn and to grow.  

I promise to be your biggest supporter and your loudest cheerleader. We are a team and we stand by each other. I promise to work hard for our team and to take care of you, your heart and your soul, from the top of your head to the tip of your toes. 

I promise to treat you with courtesy and respect. I promise that we can talk about anything, anytime, anywhere. Life is a conversation. There is no need for yelling and there is no need for silence. I promise to always observe the 24-hour rule. I will seek to understand your perspective and I will not harbor bad feelings or hold grudges.

I promise to keep it simple and if I don’t, I promise it’s OK for you to tell me that I need to simplify, because sometimes (a lot of times, actually) I need to be put in check.

I promise to love you with my whole heart and I promise to like you with my whole heart too. I promise that we will have fun, no matter where we go or what we do. I promise to smile when you walk in the door, to hold your hand while we walk down the street and to kiss you before we fall asleep.

I know that God is love and what we have is special and I promise to never take it for granted.

Dirty Birds

I loved the Dirty Dash so much that I signed up to do the Dirty Dash Corporate Challenge last Saturday with 17 of my colleagues.

(Well, TECHNICALLY, I didn’t know I’d love the Dirty Dash so much when I signed up for the Corporate Challenge, but I’m down to take a chance on stuff like that, you know?)

There was a costume contest, and we had corporate sponsorship, so we seriously upped the ante. Since the whole Dirty Dash is pig themed, we thought it only appropriate to dress as Angry Birds. It all started with the heads, which probably would have done the trick, but then someone said we should wear shiny red head to toe spandex unitards, which, of course, made TOTAL sense. Oh yeah, and tutus. Tutus were a MUST.

Our costumes were so good that multiple people asked us if we were getting paid to run this – a.k.a. we didn’t like each other enough to spend a Saturday afternoon together, in red spandex, rolling in the mud.

Everyone should work with people that are this fun.

  

For My Beautiful Friend Who Doesn’t Know She Is Beautiful

The first time I ever walked into Karen’s office I was shattered. I had no idea what to do next or how to navigate out of the place that I was in. Another therapist that was in Karen’s building had put some bookmarks up at the front desk. I suppose it was to inspire all of us shattered people. Or maybe it was because The Sex and the City Movie was coming out, I don’t know. On the bookmark was a quote from Sex and the City. I believe it is actually the very last line from the very last episode of the series:

The most exciting, challenging and significant relationship of all is the one you have with yourself. And if you can find someone to love the you you love, well, that’s just fabulous.


Shattered Natalie was indeed inspired. I have had that card framed and sitting on my desk for 3 1/2 years. It’s funny, when I talk to people that I haven’t seen in a while and they ask what I’ve been up to, it goes something like this:

“Well, after I got married I moved from Utah to the Bay Area for work and then to Dallas and then I got divorced after 12 years and so I moved back to Utah and then I got a fantastic job and bought a converted loft space downtown and that’s how I met someone awesome and blah blah blah I just got remarried and got another new fantastic job and I love being so close to my family and I did I mention I am SO SO HAPPY.”
It all sounds kind of quick and easy, but it wasn’t. It was a long long Road. My family knows about the Road. And my friends know about the Road. And Alek knows about the Road. And I often get asked for my thoughts or advice, because it turns out I’m not such a unique and special snowflake. Turns out a lot of people go down my Road. And they want to know how I got to this happy place. 

So, this post is for my Beautiful friend who doesn’t know how beautiful she is.  Hopefully this can help you on your Road.
Things I Know for Sure 

Do what Karen tells you to do, even if it’s hard. She’s right.
– When you get through all of this, you will know yourself and you will love yourself and that is the best thing that will ever happen to you.
– The day that it ends with your Sweetness, that absolute end that really is the end, when you know that it can’t be taken back, is the worst day. It is indescribably bad. I know that day. I can pinpoint that moment when I shattered. I can see myself on the dirty floor of my house curled up amidst all of the boxes containing my closets. I can hear Janaan on the other end of the line, telling me that I was going to be OK.  Every day after that day is better. I PROMISE.
– It will be two steps forward and one step back. For a long time. But progress is progress.  
– The love you had is real and it always will be. It never goes away. Protect it. Never forget it because that love, that all-consuming-hot-fiery-ball is just a taste of what is possible.
– Be grateful every day that you had that taste. Many people will never know what that is like. The gratitude will get you through a lot of darkness and help you remember the sweet instead of the bitter. While I was picking up my pieces, I wanted the transformation come from the sweet. I still strive for that every day. What you put your energy into gets bigger so I choose beauty and love and I put my Thank You into the universe and hope that it finds its destination.
– Run towards the pain. If you bury away what makes you feel bad right now you’ll never know the joy that it can bring to you someday. The song that will bring you to your knees, crying next to the bathroom cabinets at Lowe’s (yes, that happened) will eventually make you smile and make your heart soar at the memory.
– Don’t ever give all of yourself to another person again. Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me. Part of your heart and your soul should be for you and you alone. Cultivate that. Love yourself. Take care of yourself.
– You – yes YOU – are beautiful. Beyond beautiful. You are smart. You are insanely talented. You are fun and you are funny. I’ve never met anyone like you.
– Keep your heart open, even though your instinct right now is to shut it off. If you shut it off you won’t ever know the love that is out there for you. REAL LOVE. BIG.WILD.RIDICULOUS.LOVE.
– Someday there will be a moment where you will know for sure that even if you could, you wouldn’t change a single thing because you’re exactly where you want to be. I PROMISE.

XOXO,
Natalie

Stuff I am CA-RAZY About

Every once in a while, there are random things that I just love SO MUCH. I can’t get enough of them. I am CA-RAZY about these things. I feel these things must be shared with ANYONE who will listen. Mom. Dad. Janaan. Alek. Colleagues at work. Some dude trying on shoes at the Salt Lake Running Company yesterday. Oh well. Here is my current list (in no particular order):

  1.  Up All Night on NBC. Do you like Modern Family? Did you like Arrested Development? (In other words, are you just awesome in general with great taste in comedy?) If you answered yes to any of those questions, then you will like this show.
  2. The Vito Sandwich at Jimmy John’s with salt and vinegar potato chips. I could eat this every day I swear.
  3.  Domo‘s Billboards on the I-15 Freeway. Domo has been recruiting for talent with lines like “Sweep the leg.” “Lightning strikes twice.” and “Never missed a President’s Club?  I want you. (You know, for work.)” But they’ve upped the game with their latest “The Honey Badger of companies.”
  4. Calling Alek my HUSBAND. It still sounds weird…and awesome and makes me a little giddy.
  5. The Garage in North Salt Lake. Hands down best place to hang out and grab a beer this summer. Best people watching. Best music. Best burger. Best patio. And cornhole too?! Are you kidding me?! We will need to find a suitable hang-out once the weather cools down. But until then, the middle of the Tesoro oil refinery is where you’ll find us!

Half Man | Half Pig: Dirty Dash 2011

Besides than the fact that the race director starts each wave off by saying “If you care what your finish time is, you’re at the wrong race,” here are 17 more reasons why you should sign up to run in the mud next year:

1. Sweet Temporary Tattoos!
2. No Pre-Race Lines at the Honey Buckets (WHAT?!) 

3. MUD!
4. MORE MUD!!
5. EVEN MORE MUD!!!
6. Slick Hill Climbs!
 7. Tires!
8. Rope Walls!
9. Rope Swings!
10. Balance Beams! (I heard one man refer to this as the “Ball Buster.”)
11. Jell-o at Mile Two!! Yes, Jell-o!

12. Hay Bales!
 13. Wooden Army Wall Things!
14. Slip-N-Slide!
15. Being Squirted Down With Liquid Dish Soap To Accelerate Slip-N-Slide Pace!
16. Muddy Hand Prints On Your Bum!
17. A Hot “Shower” At The End! (a.k.a. Best $4 I Spent All Day!)

Texts From Alek

A little bit of setup for this clip:

Estelle brought the MOST FABULOUS handbag to the wedding. It was truly a Handbag of Glory. Mom and Janaan and I were ALL OVER IT. I thought for sure it was a new Balenciaga or Fendi or something equally fabulous. It looked like a million bucks. So imagine our collective excitement when Estelle said it was from Zara. (Ooh! Yes! We have Zara here in the States. GO ON!!!) And even better it was only “like 80 quid.”

Mom and Janaan were going to be near a Zara within the next week and would pick them up. Oh, yes, we were ALL OVER IT.

AND THEN, AND THEN, Zara launched an online store on September 7th. And, get this, FREE SHIPPING. So at promptly 12:01 AM Eastern Time on September 7th we placed our orders .

Needless to say, we can’t shut up about this bag.

Fast forward to yesterday.

September 12, 2011 – 10:58 AM
“OMG OMG OMG your Mom’s Zara bag just arrived! (I’m typing this in a high pitched voice and waving my hands in front of my face right now!!!!!)”

Zara Plaited Shopper: USD$149.

This Island

For our wedding, Alek’s sister Leanna created a gorgeous piece of calligraphy for us. It has two layers. The first layer is over 5,000 words — poems, posts from this blog, stories, song lyrics — that are shaped into our loft. The couch, the walls, the bed, the desk, etc. The top layer of the piece has the lyrics of the song Everlong drawn in a big, mad, wild, conceptual way on this lovely transparent paper and when the two pieces are pressed together, you can see all of the words written in the shape of our house.

Leanna worked on the piece for months and she told me that she wanted to make me cry when I saw it. (That was quite an easy task given the white hot ball of emotion that I was in the week leading up to the wedding.) And while the calligraphy is incredible and gorgeous and definitely would have made me cry on its own, it was a poem that Leanna wrote in the space that represents the island in our kitchen that really got me.

The poem is about the three of us. Me and Alek and Leanna and all of the time that we spent together on that island. The poem is about me and Leanna and the relationship that we’ve made. The poem is about our inside jokes. The poem is about our friends. The poem is about our families. The poem is about our traditions, past and present. The poem is about happiness and love and memories and all that has happened in the space of the last three years. The poem is an incredible gift. I of course made her read it at the wedding.

Oh, and for the record, when I saw this for the first time, we were sitting at the Island in our kitchen, with glasses too-full of wine and Pho Green Papaya spread all around us. It was perfect.

This Island

This island
Empty but for papers strewn
And an open book
with problems to solve
You look on from the safe distance of the desk
At me on the right hand of Alek
Bending over his work, endless formulas and calculations
While I giggle at the stylized bird finger adorning each page
Next step, next step

This island
Where I set out my computer
After I let myself in
With my spare key
Comfortable to come whenever
And take snacks from the fridge
Open containers only

This island
Holding our duct tape bags
Overflowing with your produce
After the farmers market
The bags were never big enough
To fit the fresh bread for Alek’s Lamb ragu

This island
Arrayed with craft accouterments
Where me and Lesley scoffed
at the idea of making jewelry
Fifteen minutes later
Sitting beside Liv and Gwyn
Trying to find the best beads
I still have those bracelets

This island
surrounded by friends and family
at my going away party
With all Alek’s friends
Because any friend of Alek
Is a friend of mine
I was tilty from the white sangria

This island
Underneath painted pipes
A gift from Alek
He thought your ceiling needed a little color
Who knew cupid dealt in copper?

This island
Topped with 3 pages of careful instructions
A Lucy litany to guide me through the weekend
A fairly high maintenance list
For such a low maintenance dog

This island
Under the watchful gaze of the candy jars
Converted to hold granola hippie health food
Stand sentinel
Mourning the loss of their fallen comrade
Another victim of Brad’s inability
To judge his own strength (considerable)
Or size (enormous)
His replacement sits
Squat and sullen
Beside its more fashionable neighbors

This island
Covered with Pho Green Papaya
Panang, sticky rice, and satay
Or Settebello
Bianca, Caprese and Margherita
We always knew exactly what we wanted

This island
To which I cling after a precariously
Balanced jar of lazy peanut butter and jelly
Conspired with inattentive fridge packing
RIP middle toe

This island
Home to a temperamental stove
A living monument to the endless mystery
Of how the sum of working parts
Can produce something dysfunctional

This island
Where you stand
Across from me and Alek
Bemused that Houses will eat anything
But we won’t open the bag
You have no chance against
Mom’s operant conditioning

This island
Balanced out by the addition of Alek
His wine rack
Perfectly proportioned
Measured to fit
The empty space beside your off-center stove hood

This island
Just far enough from the couch
To justify the wine glass filled to the brim
It was never meant to hold so much

This island
Hidden under PF Chang’s boxes
While I showed Liv that there are
Better restaurants than Panda express
She’ll never be able to go back

This island
Full of platters
An endless procession
of Party food
For all the events I helped you Jenkins

This island
Where I chopped fruit
lettuce, meat,
Rolled goat cheese
Drizzled honey
You and your mom always gave me the repetitive jobs
You knew that I would be no good
At making everything pretty

This island
Crowned with a bottle of wine
And unmatched DI glasses
“Sets” and “new” are overrated

This island
The morning after
Where I sat with a hot coffee after a night
Stretched out on your couch
With Lucy beside me
Any excuse to sleep over was a good one

I know this calligraphy is about you and Alek
About how you met each other
About all you overcame and got through
About how much fun you have together
About perfect timing, about being your best self with him
About how you crystallized the Alek identity by your presence
A catalyst for all things good about Alek

And I want it to be a prayer to the universe
To any higher power
Any being with control over
The unknowable future and
The ungovernable events before us
That your everlong is full of all good things

For you
is at the other end of the counter
In the midst of your discovery, your encounter
Alek finding you, or you finding him
Or your meddlesome and wise parents
Throwing you together because
They liked Alek so much
And really, who doesn’t like Alek?

But I will take this little corner
At the center of my relationship with you
And by extension
My relationship with Alek-with-you
Where I spent so much time
On stylish metal bar stools
Carefully chosen
to accentuate the space
to bring everything together

This space is mine
I claim this oasis
I take this corner
For me

Two’s

One of Alek’s firefighter internships was with Truck 2 in Salt Lake City (a.k.a. ‘Two’s.’)  Two’s actually cover our neighborhood and we see them all the time because we have a lot of car crashes, bum-fights and drunk people out and about getting into trouble after a night at the bars. Also, old ladies fall down at Temple Square a lot in the winter months. The crew Alek worked with is easy to spot because the firefighter driving the back of the truck has long curly black hair that pokes out from under his helmet.

These guys are seriously cool and have been incredibly supportive over the last year as Alek has been going through the paramedic program. Come to think of it, everyone that Alek has interacted with in the fire service over the last two years has been seriously cool and incredibly supportive. Firefighters really are everything you think they are – smart, nice, fun, funny, handsome, heroic, loyal, calm under pressure, with just a little bit of mad-crazy-risk-taker thrown in for good measure.

Alek got a call from Two’s yesterday and they presented him with a lovely lovely gift to welcome him to the fire service – a St. Florian medallion to wear while he is at work and a coin for me to carry around in my purse. (Awww! I’m officially the wife of a firefighter!)

St. Florian is the patron of Firefighters. (Sidebar: I’m not super-familiar with the concept of Patron Saints but the prayer card they gave us said that there is a feast day on May 4th and I’m always down for an excuse for a feast! Mark your calendars!!!)

Firefighter’s Prayer
Oh, Almighty God, whose great power and eternal wisdom embraces the universe, watch over all Firefighters. 
Protect them from harm in the performance of their duty to fight fire, save lives and preserve property.
We pray, help them to keep our homes and buildings safe day and night.
We recommend them to Your loving care because their duty is dangerous.
Grant them Your unending strength and courage in their daily assignments.
Dear God, protect these brave persons. Grant them your almighty protection and unite them safely with their families after duty has ended.
Amen.

Amen indeed.

Shazam! Sail

Two part story.

First part: On Wednesday afternoon a pair of shiny black and chrome SOUL by Ludacris SL150CB High-Definition On-Ear Headphones magically appeared on my desk. WHAT?! They were from a co-worker to say thanks for going above and beyond and working some late nights to help out on an event.

SHUT.UP.

Part of me wanted to shuffle imaginary pebbles on the ground with my feet and say “Aww, shucks. Just doing my job.” Part of me wanted to run around the office yelling “LLLLUUUUDDDAAAA!!!!” I’ve never owned headphones this nice. I’ve entered an all new ear-gasmic way of listening to music and there is no going back.

Second part: I’ve Shazam’d this song three times in the last 6 weeks. Apparently, I REALLY didn’t want to forget to buy it. It’s the perfect song for these last few weeks of warm weather. Crank it up, roll down the windows, push the clutch to the floor, down-shift to 2nd and GO.

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