Sunday, October 30, 2011

Day 220: Rest, Activity, and Nourishment (and the Easiest of These is REST)

I've struggled with body image my entire adult life, and studied it academically for at least half of that time.  If there's anything I've learned from my own experiences and "the literature" it's this: loving your body and treating it well (through adequate sleep, nutrition, and activity) go hand-in-hand.  You simply can't have one without the other!  In the spirit of my quest to treat my body well, this week's mantra is:

Rest, activity, and nourishment 
(and the easiest of these is REST!)


Artwork found here.
Over the past week I've really enjoyed getting back to my "real life" and re-engaging in my healthful routines, like eating balanced home-cooked meals and going to the gym.  Yet, food and exercise are only two pieces of the three-piece puzzle for physical and mental health.  The third element is sleep.

I've read all sorts of interesting tidbits on the relationship between adequate sleep and health.  Getting enough sleep (ideally between 7-9 hours every night) helps regulate our moods, our appetites, and our immune systems.  (For a particularly informative and funny read on the importance of sleep, check out the first chapter of The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin.)  I know all of this, yet I often sacrifice sleep for the sake of my "to-do" list.

Well... this week I'm adding "get enough sleep" to my list!  

Even though going to bed early can be a challenge (turn OFF the TV! Stop blogging!), fulfilling my sleep requirements should not be the most difficult of the rest/activity/nourishment trifecta.  Think about it.  What's easier: Running 5 miles... OR... sleeping?  Cooking a healthy meal.... OR.... sleeping?  See what I mean?  Hence this week's mantra includes, "and the easiest of these is REST!" 


To be honest, I'm really trying to psych myself up for this endeavor, through my mantra.  As someone who has suffered from crippling insomnia in the past, I know that sleep isn't as easy as simply turning out the lights.  But this week I'm going to practice my very best sleep-hygiene - which does include turning out the lights - and see how it goes.  Good night!

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Thursday, October 27, 2011

Day 217: Fun Fact Friday Norman Rockwell's "Girl at Mirror

Fun Fact Friday's are back again!  (cue wild applause)  For today's interesting tidbit about mirrors, I decided to learn a little bit more about one of my favorite paintings: "Girl at Mirror" by Norman Rockwell.  This painting always spoke to me, even before this project started.  Something about the way this young girl looks at herself in the mirror rings so familiar... you can tell she's judging herself.  It's poignant and beautiful (in my humble opinion).

So here's the fun tidbit: I managed to track down (i.e., google) the original photograph that Rockwell used while creating this painting.  Here it is:
It's a stunning replication, no?  One thing I find interesting is the fact that Rockwell added the magazine to his subject's lap in the painting.  I wonder what inspired him to add it?  I also can't help but wonder who the girl is, and what she was actually thinking...  (This Fun Fact and images found at artabase.com.)

Finally, since we're on the topic of mirrors, I'll close here with Rockwell's famous "Triple Self-Portrait".  Enjoy your weekend!



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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Day 215: 8 Steps to Repairing a Household (Beauty) Budget. (Money-Saving Tips Appreciated!)


Back on Day 132, I shared something a bit personal and embarrassing: I'm unemployed.  In a nutshell, I didn't get any of the scholarships I applied for and my teaching contract with UCLA expired.  With the budget cuts at UCLA, funds are tight and there weren't enough teaching jobs in my department for everyone.  I applied for a few community college positions, but they weren't in the cards.  Apparently we're in the middle of a recession or something!  Thankfully, I have another UCLA teaching job lined up for April (and a possible very-cool-but-not-for-sure-and-I-don't-want-to-jinx-it-so-I-won't-tell-you opportunity in the works), but in the meantime I'm feeling like "the weakest link" in my marriage. (Michael, by the way, is a research "post-doc", which means he is basically "under-employed" or at least "under-paid".  Such is the glamorous life of academia!)

During our honeymoon Michael and I finally took the time to look at our projected income and expenses for the next year.  Our heads have been in the clouds.  We've both gotten into a dangerous habit of saying "Oh, I work so hard. I deserve this!" far too frequently.  

I've "deserved" new clothes every few weeks, twice-monthly mani-pedis, and nice(ish) bottles of wine when I go out to dinner with friends.  Michael, on the other hand, has "deserved" cafĂ© coffees in the mornings, restaurant dinners on multiple weekdays (w/ microbrews, of course), and driving to work when he should ride the train.  We've both "deserved" to have our own beloved cars, and to live in a 1,100 square foot apartment in San Francisco.  Oh, and we just got married in a beautiful winery wedding with 130 guests, and went on a 2-week honeymoon in Hawaii.  Yeah... life has been pretty good, and we've "deserved it" since we're both hard-working people.   Except we can't afford all of these things.  We've been chipping away at our savings each month, and it's time to make some changes before we end up in debt.

That was the embarrassing part.  Here's the plan we came up with to get back on track:

Where's E.T. ???
(Probably out looking for a job, or Taking Over Wall Street!)
Step 1: I've applied for CA unemployment insurance.  (Boy did that ever make this situation feel official!)

Step 2: We're selling both of our cars, to be replaced by ONE sensible and less-expensive vehicle.  I write from home, or volunteer at the About-Face office a few miles away, so I'll be biking a lot.  (Good thing I totally adore my bike. Remember when I got it back on Day 84?)

Step 3: I applied for some of that "you're covered if you get hit by a car" health insurance, and we're purchasing generics of all prescription medications from Canada.  Yes, seriously.  Step 3 is saving us at least $300/month.  And I was approved for my health insurance a few minutes ago!

Step 4: Michael is forgoing his morning lattes at Caffe La Stazione, and his evening microbrews at Serpentine.

Step 5: I'm putting myself on a fashion-diet.  This means ZERO clothing purchases for the next 6 months.  Ditto on makeup and mani-pedis.  


Step 6:We're re-vamping our dining habits to be wholly based at home during the week.  (I thoroughly enjoyed making use of my former-anorexic-food-obsessing skills to come up with a list of 10 affordable and healthy dinners, along with an accompanying "inventory list" of groceries which we'll keep on hand.  Thank goodness for Trader Joe's!)  We'll still eat at restaurants occasionally, but as a special thing instead of an "I don't feel like cooking" thing.

Step 7: We've decided to entirely forgo alcohol on "school nights."  This was a major "Oh, I deserve this..." habit, and one that hurt our wallets, waistlines, and mental health.  (Why is it that 2 glasses of Pinot feel can so blissfully relaxing in the evening, but then wreak havoc on my nerves the next day?)  Good riddance!!

Step 8: Appreciate how blessed we are!  It's time for us to stop "getting what we want" in favor of "wanting what we've got!"  And we have a lot: wonderful family and friends; our health; each other; a fun apartment in a beautiful city; we're not actually in debt (yet); at least one of us has a solid job (thanks Michael!).  We are blessed, even without all those little luxuries we used to "deserve."


So that's our plan.  I'll seriously mourn my car, but the part that's causing me the most anxiety is Step 5.  A few years ago I gave up new clothes for a year to save money, but this time it feels different, thanks to my no-mirrors pledge.  Living without mirrors has lessened the frightful reign of vanity over my life, but I've clung to my mani-pedis (and occasional new outfit) for that sense of still being "me".  I've thought, I'm still fashionable!  I'm still put-together!  I still deserve to indulge in some beauty routines! (There we go again with that word, deserve)  But now it's obviously time to push myself a bit further.  It's time to find the "fashionable me" in my resourcefulness and creativity, rather than in new stuff.  THIS - along with the pride of financial solvency - is what I deserve.  But it's still a little scary.  (Though not as scary as going into debt.)

Any bits of practical money-saving advice?  (Words of encouragement and budgeting / unemployment success stories are also much appreciated!)


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Monday, October 24, 2011

Day 212: Introducing My Gratitude List and "Mantra Mondays"

As depressing as it feels to end a vacation, I almost always look forward to returning home.  Why?  Because I'm a lover of routines, and all of my routines revolve around home.  I have many routines.  For example, I always apply my makeup in the same order and I follow a similarly rigid order of shampoo-then-conditioner-then-bodywash-then-facewash when showering.  I also have a quirky habit of eating my food in order of healthiest/least desirable food first (i.e. veggies), with least healthy/yummiest food last (carbs!carbs!carbs!chocolate!).   (This last routine clashes with Michael's tendency to wolf down all of his food and then pick off of my plate.  Since I always save my favorite food for last, I get really, really, mad at him for stealing bites.  Argh!)

As a lover of routines, vacations can be a bit disruptive and - gasp! - even stressful.  To help manage my anxiety, I write lists: a to-do list for fun things I want to do on my vacation; a to-do list for things I want to do when I get back home; a packing list to make sure nothing is forgotten at home or left behind upon our return. I also like to write grocery lists, and list and track our budget.

Anyway, over the last two weeks I had a lot of time to both write lists, and also to daydream longingly about my routines back home.  Two awesome things came out of this.  

(1) First, I started writing one of the most fulfilling and anxiety-reducing lists I've ever kept: a gratitude list.  This list is filled with things I'm thankful for, both big ("America!") and small ("chewy ginger candies").  I've tried keeping a daily gratitude journal at several different points during the past decade, but (oddly) it never became a routine for me.   See, writing a gratitude list is easy when life feels blissful, but it's much harder when life feels overwhelming, particularly at times when I've struggled with depression.  But it's those darker times when having a gratitude list becomes particularly important, even life-saving. So I'm trying something different this time.  Instead of requiring myself to write in the journal every night before bed, I'm keeping a tiny notebook with me at all times so I can add to the list whenever I feel inspired, no pressure.  Also, since my iPhone has a built-in camera, I can just capture grateful moments in a photo!  Here are three things I recorded during my honeymoon:


I'm Thankful to See A Double Rainbow

I'm Thankful For My Bathing Suit (It Makes Me Feel Like Marilyn Monroe!)



+ ME =









I'm Grateful To See an Elderly Couple Holding Hands at the Beach - How Romantic!













As far as body-image goes, I imagine that keeping a gratitude list might help me keep things in perspective on days when I'm hard on myself.

(2) Second, after thinking a lot about my routines, I've decided to return to my former blogging routine of writing "Fun Fact Fridays"... AND I'm adding a new routine: "Mantra Mondays".  Every Friday I'll continue to share a fun, fascinating, and sometimes just plain weird fact about mirrors and/or our beauty culture. Every Monday - starting TODAY - I'll share a mantra for the week.

What's a mantra?  The American Heritage Dictionary gives two definitions: (1) "a sacred verbal formula repeated in prayer, meditation, or incantation such as an invocation of a god, a magic spell, or a syllable, or portion of scripture containing mystical potentialities," or (2) "a commonly repeated word or phrase."  I love both of these definitions, so I've merged and consolidated them to this: to me, a mantra is a commonly repeated phrase with mystical potentialities.  Isn't that beautiful?  Speaking of beautiful, here is this week's mantra:

My body is perfect; my mind is a work-in-progress.

I came up with this phrase last week, and it floated back into my head so frequently and unexpectedly that it felt like a mantra (and so became one, inspiring this new routine!).  What led me to this phrase in the first place?  Several years ago I heard an inspiring speech in which the speaker argued,
"We diet to try and lose weight, usually unsuccessfully. We buy expensive wrinkle creams and botox to fight the advance of time, but to what end?  Our bodies revolt.  They know what they are and what they aren't.  It's not easy to change your mind, but what if it's easier to change your mind than it is to change your body?  Think about it."  
I did, and still do. All the time.

What's been harder for you: changing your body, or changing your mind about your body??  Have you reached a point (or do you remember a time) where you didn't want either of these things to change??  

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Friday, October 21, 2011

Day 209: Mirrors on Kauai and A Few Secrets to Marital Bliss

I've been told numerous times that one secret to happy marriage is learning the art of compromise. It makes sense.  Two people, two different people, living together under the same roof.  Romantic? Of course!  But what is romance without drama?

Well, my honeymoon with Michael has been fairly drama free, but we've had to compromise on a few things nonetheless. I'll leave the details of the "I-can't -believe-you-just-handed-me-your-stand-up-paddle-board-paddle-and-sunglasses-and-expected-me-to-just-hang-out-by-myself-for-an-hour-while-you-attempted-to-surf!" argument, in favor of a more successful example of compromise and working together.

Okay, here we go: represented below, in pictures, are the ways that Michael and I tackled (together!) the insane number of mirrors in our hotel room on Kauai.  The key thing to remember is that I'm avoiding mirrors, but Michael isn't.  In fact, he kind of likes them, at least when it comes to shaving and flossing his teeth.  Thus, compromise:

MIRROR #1: Entryway mirror.  We left this one uncovered because I could just walk right past it.



Mirror #2: Mirrored Closet in Bedroom. This one would have been impossible to ignore.  It reflected OUR BED!  Miraculously, we realized that it would be 95% covered if we slid one half behind the other, and then kept the bedroom door open to block the view.  (Aha!)  Michael was proud of himself for figuring that out while sipping a mai-tai.  (A few minutes later he figured out exactly what potential view he had covered and was kind of bummed. )


Mirror #3: Mirror over bedroom dresser.  This one watricky.  It couldn't be removed from the wall, and was (again) located across from the bed... specifically, across from MY side of the bed.  I tested the situation, and it wasn't possible for me to see myself in the mirror while laying in bed, so we actually left this one uncovered. For extra safety,Michael offered to use the dresser in front of the mirror, and I took the one in front of the TV.  Now that's working together, right!



MIRROR #4: Vanity mirror in master bathroom.  This guy needed covering.  As much as I'd like to think of myself as immune, it's still very tough to resist staring at myself while I brush my teeth or put on makeup.  Michael valiantly re-purposed a sheet from the pull-out couch to create a curtain.  

MIRROR #5: Vanity mirror in hallway bathroom.  This bathroom, we decided, would be Michael's "#2" bathroom.  No, seriously.  (Having separate "#2" bathrooms is a second secret to a happy marriage...) Obviously Michael didn't actually need a mirror in here for that reason, but... we didn't have enough sheets to cover all of the mirrors and he promised he could keep the door closed at all times. (I was happy about the closed door for more reasons than had to do with mirrors! snicker, snicker)

MIRROR #6: Mirrored closet in hallway bathroom.  Yes, Michael's "#2" bathroom had mirrors on two walls.  Poor guy.... What were they thinking???  Who wants that in a bathroom, really?  Again, these mirrors were left uncovered because I could just avoid that entire room (not hard to resist, really!).  














Okay, that's all of them.  Finally.  If I could have had my way, I would have happily taken a can of spray paint and blacked out all six of these mirrors, permanently.  That would have made my life easier (at least in the short term!).  But, obviously, that wouldn't have been the least bit reasonable or responsible.  Instead, Michael and I found solutions that worked for us.  And they did.

Tomorrow is our last day in Kauai before we fly back so San Francisco.  It's been so beautiful and relaxing here, I couldn't bear leaving if it weren't to go to my favorite city in the world, which also happens to be my home.  Expect a winsome bittersweet post tomorrow evening. XOXO

Are there any other "secrets to a happy marriage" that I should know about? :)

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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Day 208: Tips for Celebrating "Fat Talk Free Week"

Woohooo!!! This week (Oct. 16-22) is
National Fat Talk Free Week!  

What is "fat talk"?  Fat talk, according to the folks over at Fat Talk Free Week is this:
Fat Talk describes all of the statements made in everyday conversation that reinforce the thin-ideal standard of female beauty and contribute to women's dissatisfaction with their bodies. Examples of fat talk may include: "I'm so fat," "Do I look fat in this?" "I need to lose 10 pounds" and "She's too fat to be wearing that swimsuit." Statements that are considered fat talk don't necessarily have to be negative; they can seem positive yet also reinforce the need to be thin - "You look great! Have you lost weight?"
Why should you care about fat talk?  Well, for one thing, we all do it, and it's not good for us. Fat talk reinforces the idea that thinness is the same as goodness, or that thinner people are better people than fatter people.  We may think we're just complaining about our thighs, or even bonding with a friend over a shared angst.  These things may be true, but - ultimately - when we engage in fat talk we're also buying into hierarchies about body size and shape that ultimately harm all women, even naturally thin women who are often treated with disdain by women who struggle to be thin.  Learn more about the movement and ways to support it here: @ http://endfattalk.org.  

Michael and I pledged to not say mean things about our bodies this week (yes, even we activist types sometimes indulge in negative body talk). I urge you to do the same.  Even better, use this week as practice for the rest of your life!  Think of how much positivity we can all spread by resisting this type of harmful discourse!
I saw this and loved it. Then hated it.
Then loved it again.
My body is perfect, my mind is a work in progress.

I'm feeling inspired.  I'm feeling brave.  I'm feeling bold.  I'm posting a picture I took yesterday, of my stomach and legs.  As I lounged at the pool with warm sun on my skin, I looked down and (gasp!) really loved what I saw, and how I felt.  I saw a rounded belly, strong legs, and soft skin with a bit of blonde fuzz (I left my razor in CA. oops!). I wanted to capture the moment for myself, so I took this photo.  Then I looked at the photo and hated it.  "Ugh.  My iPhone didn't capture it right at all!" I thought, "I just look lumpy and out of proportion." But then I thought some more, and decided that I needed to embrace this picture, especially during this week of no fat talk.  So here it is.  I still feel a little iffy about the proportions, and I know a lot of people might find it totally unflattering, but I'm feeling proud of myself for sharing anyway.  This view is all I get to see these days, so I've decided I better darn well appreciate it!  My new mantra for inspiration: My body is perfect, my mind is a work in progress.  

Here's one suggestion from me: make a bargain with your friends that any time anyone engages in negative body talk, the guilty person has to list 5 things they LIKE about their bodies for any 1 thing they complained about.  

This is a version of an activity I do in my classroom: my students and I use colored pencils to draw pictures of ourselves, and we list 1 thing about our looks that we're self-conscious about along with an INFINITE list of things we are proud of.  The stunning beauty of this exercise happens when everybody shares their pictures and lists with the rest of the class.  Imagine hearing 20+ diverse young women describe dozens of different things they love about their bodies!

"I love my straight hair!"  
"I love my curly hair!"  
"The gap between my teeth makes me stand out in perfect-teeth-land-L.A.!"
"I love my small boobs!"  
"I love my big boobs!"  
"My body is kind of soft... perfect for hugging my kids!"
"I like being petite!"  
"I like being tall!"  
"My eyes remind me of my grandma."
"The blonde fuzz on my legs sparkles in the sun like those beautiful vampires from the Twilight series!"  

Yeah, we all get to share one hang-up, which is kind of fat-talk-ish, but I think it's actually pretty important for the exercise: for one thing,  the last thing I want is for my students to feel guilty for not having perfect body image.  Also, starting off with one hang-up seems to help my students feel less self-conscious (vain?) about sharing all the things they like about their bodies.  Isn't it so backwards-but-true that we feel uncomfortable - even unlikeable - when we speak proudly about our looks?  Anyway, by the end of the class we're all glowing from the positive stuff, and feeling downright bonded.  It knocks my socks off every time.

So, what's on your list??  

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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Day 207: How to Enjoy a Romantic (Mirror-Free) Honeymoon at Volcano National Park. Oh, and NOW WHAT??

I'm writing tonight from Princeville, HI where Michael and I have been staying since Friday evening.  We were on the "Big Island" the week prior.  

I feel a bit guilty that my blog posts have been infrequent since the honeymoon began, but ... well ... I've been enjoying myself!  And for that, I must thank all of you. I received dozens of comments and emails from readers with great suggestions for fun and affordable adventures.  We've taken a lot of your advice, from a stunning hike on the Awini Trail down to a black sand beach in Pololu Valley, to a beautiful drive up the Hamakau Coast through Waimea, not to mention some of the most delicious roadside BBQ we've ever eaten!  It's been great.

Want a taste for the awesomeness of Hawaii?  Most of you have never heard my voice, so I decided to get creative and record a short "tour" of our bed-and-breakfast near Volcano National Park.  (Mom, you'll love this!) Here it is:

video
OOPS!! - my iPhone ran out of memory.  My last sentence ended with "... totally adorable husband who is not yet dressed." I pick up again here:
video


So how has married life impacted my "no-mirrors" project?  It's been awesome.  I'm reminded of the camping trip Michael and I took a few months ago (on Day 94), when mirrors were sparse and I didn't notice or care.  It's been like that, except better.  Yet, I feel even more relaxed on this trip.  Why?  Well, it's not so much because I'm married (sorry babe!), as it is because I'm no longer planning a wedding.  If you remember, being a bride-to-be left me feeling self-conscious and anxious about my looksI put pressure on myself (or perhaps absorbed pressure from the wedding industry) to be a "stunning" bride.  Well... now that the wedding is over I don't feel that pressure any more.  Now I can just be me.  


But a few critical questions remain: who am I now, without a looming wedding, and still without mirrors? Is there still any point to continuing this project?  Do I need it any more, or has this story reached it's climax?  Furthermore, do I even want to?  In a word: yes.  I do.   I don't know if my wedding was the climax of this story, but here is my sincere hope: if going without mirrors helped me feel strong, confident, and, yes, stunning on my wedding day, I hope I'll continue feeling these things, but additionally gain a quieter and calmer understanding of myself and my body in the blissfully normal months ahead.  I can't wait, and look forward to sharing the journey with you.

Oh, and a curious question: did anyone else have a, "Wow, I'm married.... NOW WHAT??" experience after the wedding?  If so, what answers did you come up with?

Mahalo!

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Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Day 199: Who is YOUR best mirror?

 A photo of my wedding dress an hour before our ceremony.  I love how the sky is reflected in the windows....
(More "teaser" photos are posted at www.thegoodness.com.  I've only seen pics pre-approved by Michael!)
A few friends have emailed me asking for details about the song played for my "first dance" with Michael.  We chose a cover of the song "I'll Be Your Mirror," originally by Velvet Underground, adapted by Clem Snide.

Now, Michael and I tried to avoid having any kind of a weird "mirror" or "mirror-free" theme at our wedding.  After all, this year-without-mirrors project is just one small piece of our hopefully very-long lives together.  (That, and we didn't want our guests to start rolling their eyes or becoming nauseated at repeated references to the project!)  Yet, when it came to our first dance, nothing captured our relationship - and our promises to each other - better than these lyrics:  


I'll be your mirror
Reflect what you are, in case you don't know
I'll be the wind, the rain and the sunset
The light on your door to show that you're home

When you think the night has seen your mind
That inside you're twisted and unkind
Let me stand to show that you are blind
Please put down your hands
'Cause I see you

I find it hard to believe you don't know
The beauty that you are
But if you don't, let me be your eyes
A hand in your darkness, so you won't be afraid

When you think the night has seen your mind
That inside you're twisted and unkind
Let me stand to show that you are blind
Please put down your hands
'Cause I see you

I'll be your mirror


For the past 199 days Michael has been my mirror in the most literal sense, by telling me when I've got food in my teeth or when my makeup looks weird.  That's been wonderful.  Yet, the more awesome gift started the first day we met, when he saw all the good inside of me and reflected that back in his eyes, smile, and kindness.  He truly sees my best self - a better and more complex self than I've ever seen when picking apart my face or body in the mirror.  He sees a completely lovable Kjerstin, which helps me "see" (and love) her too.  I pray that I do the same for him.


Now I have a question for you: who is YOUR best "mirror"?  Is it a parent? A lover? A friend?  A sister?  A grandparent?  Your therapist?  How easy or hard has it been to believe the beautiful "reflection" of you that can only seen in this person's eyes?  Have you ever thanked this person?

Finally, for the my most curious or inspired readers, here's a beautiful rendition of "I'll Be Your Mirror," from youtube (at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8KN8FpmMZ6Q).  Enjoy!




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Friday, October 7, 2011

Day 196: Hawaii Here I Come! (Travel Tips Appreciated)

By the time you read this I'll be in Hawaii, GETTING IT (ahem) MY HONEYMOON ON!  


We're spending one week on the Big Island and a second week on Kauai.  Neither Michael or I have been to Hawaii before, so we're pretty psyched.


Oh, and in case this wasn't clear... the "no-mirrors" project isn't over.  I have 169 days left before the curtains come off of the looking glass.  I might pack a few extra bedsheets to cover mirrors in Hawaii, but somehow I don't think it will be hard to focus on other things.  Who wants to count the pores on her nose with a landscape like this outside her window??
Kauai.... can't wait!!!
Oh... one request:  Since Michael and I are both new to Hawaii... do any of you have advice for what we should do during our trip?  The more affordable the better... :)
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Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Day 194: Yep, I'm Married! (And I didn't even peek!)

This is what "Oops, we forgot the wedding bands... and the marriage license. " looks like.
See more work from our awesome photographers, Lisa and Geoff, @ www.thegoodness.com
Yep, I'm married!  It's been a week full of hectic frenetic activity, major partying, and (finally) wedded bliss.  I'm amazed that Michael and I, and our families were able to pull off such a spectacular and fun wedding weekend.  Here are few highlights/lowlights:

1) Remember how I was looking forward to spending time with my uber-calming sister on the drive to the rehearsal dinner?  Yeah... Hanna was an hour-and-a-half late.  Oddly enough, just being around her and my brother, Peter, was still calming!

2) With that extra hour-and-a-half to pack, you'd think I'd remember to bring along OUR MARRIAGE LICENSE.  Yes?  No.  IJ, a good friend of ours (and husband to bridesmaid Laila) retrieved it in time for the ceremony.  

3) Michael was thoroughly roasted at the rehearsal dinner.  Good times had by all!

4) My younger brother, Peter, gave the best toast of the rehearsal.  He got choked up.  The entire room was misty-eyed and impressed.  I was so touched.  Thank you Pedro!

5) Seeing all of my bridesmaids together in one place made me cry (again).  First at the rehearsal dinner, and again just before walking down the aisle.  Honora, Lindsay, Laila, Sarah, Liz, and Hanna - YOU ARE ALL AMAZING! Thank you for being there for me at different times in my life. 

6) My dad doesn't know how to tie a bow-tie.  This held up our ceremony for about 15 minutes while numerous male wedding-guests attempted to help... all happening about 5 feet from the guests, so we captured it all on film.

7) Michael cried at the ceremony.  I've NEVER seen him cry.  It was kind of cool. :)  I think most brides like to know they've made an impression on the groom, no?

8) The best Man(dy) left the wedding rings at the hotel.  Thankfully a groomsman and his wife lent us theirs.  No harm, no foul!  

9) Michael and I shared a toast with every table at the reception.  Amazingly we were still standing after table 16.  My 2 favorite toasts? a) we were handed a literal piece of toast by my unofficial-secular-fairy-godfather, Charlie and his daughter (my fairy-godsister??) Sarah, and b) my sister suggested, "may your ups and downs be only in the bedroom!"nice one, Hanna!

10) After my bridesmaid, Sarah, managed to hand-carry my left-behind wedding gown all the way from Los Angeles up to San Francisco, the bustle broke before the end of dinner.  Thank goodness I'm a fashion-brat and had a shorter number waiting in the sidelines; specifically a flirtatious one-shoulder, above-the-knee party dress with a dramatic black sash.  I added a birdcage veil, and a pair of leopard-print pumps. Woooeeee!!!

11) The most delicious food from our caterers (Le Papillon), and the most fantastic wedding cake and groom's cake from our dear family friend, Beth Setrakian, of Beth's Fine Desserts.

12) I danced with Michael, my dad, and both of my grandfathers.  Tears were shed.  My mother literally sobbed all through the father-daughter dance.  Afterward she said "this is the most fun I've had in my entire life!" Priceless.

Oh, and I bet you're all wondering the same thing: did I look in the mirror that day?  

The answer: no, I didn't.  I honestly think that it was the easiest day to avoid mirrors since I started the project.  It was a piece of (wedding) cake, if you will - get it??  Between my bridesmaids, makeup-maven Best Man(dy), the hairstylist and my mom, I had almost a dozen lovely women attending to my hair, makeup, and general self-esteem.  This kept me feeling really confident and relaxed throughout the day.  More importantly - as the list above illustrates - I simply had more important things to do.  I'm so proud of myself for achieving this goal... it has never been simply about avoiding mirrors, but about embracing and experiencing everything else.

So.  Will I look at my wedding photos?  My blog readers voted to say that I can, but I'm still not sure.  I'm getting so much out of this project that I don't want to backpedal.  In the meantime, I did ask friends/family/photographers to help find one crazy photo from our "shot spot" photo booth, to tide me over indefinitely.  It's posted above for your enjoyment.  What do you think?!  I love that it simultaneously captures us at our silliest and most glamourous. 

Serious faces aside - and you know we were just kidding - this was one of the happiest days of my life.  

Thanks to all of you who have supported me thus far in this journey!  Next up: Honeymoon in Hawaii!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


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