sometimes life sucks, and that’s okay

Happy Friday, folks. Things have been crazy busy around here as I get ready to head off to Palm Beach next week. (I am so excited for some vitamin D.) We have a big gala down there on Thursday so I’ve been running around like crazy prepping registration lists, seating charts, gift bags, you name it. Before I head to Florida however, I get to head to PA for the holiday weekend & spend some much needed time with family and friends.

Anyways, onto the inspiration for today’s little blip of a post.

Last night I spoke with someone who’s having a really tough time with all of the things life has thrown at them. It’s easy to get so wrapped up in our own daily struggles that we may sometimes forget there are others who are fighting battles much bigger than we realize. Reach out to those people & remind them they are not alone and that they are loved.

It’s easy to let those crappy moments, the I’d rather-stay-in-bed-than-face-life days get the better of us. And sometimes, it’s okay to stay in bed a little later, or not feel like tackling the world – because we all have those days & those moments. It’s what makes us human. We can’t always be happy, or see the bright side of things. Sometimes life just sucks. You just can’t let those feelings consume you. You have to accept them, deal with them, and let them pass. I know, easier said than done, right?

Sometimes, when I’m having one of those days, I remind myself how lucky I am to be alive. How so many moving parts had to come together perfectly, just at the right time, to make up what and who I am. That if one teeny tiny piece of the puzzle hadn’t fallen into it’s proper place – I wouldn’t exist. And I wouldn’t be able to sit here and admire the miracles and complexities of life. So if you find yourself having a rough day, remember how the entire universe had to come together just for you to be alive.

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TGIF everyone. Hope you all have wonderful weekends.

live with intention.

Welcome to the New Year everyone – and to my new followers – welcome to my blog. I hope I can keep you interested!

Many of you have found me thanks to my most recent post: Young, Married & Pissed Off. When I set out to write it, I had no idea it would spark such a fantastic conversation – with friends, with family and with complete strangers – all who have taken the time to read and share their own experiences and stories.

As someone pointed out, views on marriage are incredibly personal, and I am so grateful for those who have shared theirs – whether we agree or disagree. That’s what makes the world so great… a myriad of opinions with no true “right” answer, but instead just thousands of different ways to look at something. I have especially loved reading all of your stories about your own relationship and marriage experiences and I am touched that you shared them with me!

Now, to catch everyone up…

Last year I set out to do something crazy. I made a list of 213 things I wanted to accomplish in the year 2013. I was feeling stuck, depressed and unmotivated. I hit the post-grad slump hard as I went from being at the top of my circles in college to starting all over again in a new city and at a new job. I didn’t like who I was becoming, so I decided to do something about it.

That one time I jumped out of a plane at 12,000 feet.

That one time I jumped out of a plane at 12,000 feet.

I sat down and curated a list of 213 things I have always wanted to do, but never did thanks to a book of excuses. Some as small as taking a painting class, others quite outrageous like jumping out of an airplane. No – I didn’t get all 213 things crossed off my list. (Probably not the smartest decision to attempt this crazy feat while saving for and planning a wedding…) But what I did accomplish was even better: I regained my confidence and my thirst for life. So ultimately, the list achieved exactly what it was meant for.

This year I’m doing something a bit different. New Year’s resolutions seem to catch quite a bit of flak because they are rarely maintained throughout the year. Others like Jess Lawlor choose to instead pick words to live by as a way of guidance for the year ahead (which I love!). Some treat the New Year no differently than they treated the last. To me… there’s just something so exciting about a brand new year and the possibilities it holds.

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Taking a page from Jess’ book…instead of making a list of resolutions, I decided that this year I want to be more strategic and focus on a theme. A guiding principle, I guess you can say that carries over from last year, just without a giant bucket list to accompany it.

This year I hope to:

Live with intention.

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What does living with intention mean exactly?

To me, living with intention is to live with purpose. To create the life you want to live, and become the person you want to be. By making every moment and each opportunity count.

I can’t tell you how many times I find myself guilty of drifting in and out of my day-to-day routine. Thanks to Netflix marathons, drifting has become EXPONENTIALLY easier. (Seriously though… getting Netflix was a terrible, terrible idea).

At the end of the day, I sometimes find myself asking what I actually accomplished. Sure, I may have knocked a few more things off of my to-do list. But did I get any closer to becoming the best version of myself? Or make any strides in reaching those pie-in-the-sky dreams of mine?

It’s easy to fall into the “routine trap.” Life has a funny little way of throwing distractions and detractors at you, from household chores to bills and debt to going through the motions at your 9-5 job.

But it’s important to continually ask yourself: what’s the bigger picture? What do you always dream of doing?

Do you want to travel more? Do you want to pursue your passions and write a book, start a blog, or take up photography? Maybe creating a big family is what you want out of life, or quitting your day job to open up that little café on the corner you’ve always dreamed of.

Living with intention is about taking the proper steps to make those dreams a reality.  It’s about loving and respecting yourself enough to dare, to try, to fail, to succeed… despite of the fear.

So, picking up from where I left off last year, it’s time I stop drifting, and start doing. I’ve got some big things I want to accomplish, and I’m excited to share them with you as I go and take those first wobbly baby steps towards them.

I’ll let this quote sum it up:

Live with intention, walk to the edge, listen hard, practice wellness. Play with abandon. Laugh. Choose with no regret. Continue to learn. Appreciate your friends. Do what you love. Live as if this is all there is.

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What about you? How goals do you have for the year ahead?

Young, Married & Pissed Off

On September 20th of this year, I married my best friend in a beautiful wedding ceremony in Baltimore, surrounded by our closest loved ones. I was just shy of turning 24. Mike was 26. And although we have only been married for three months, in March we will celebrate our eight year “anniversary.”

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I mention this because this time of year seems to bring about two things:

  1. Several engagement announcements (I myself got engaged Christmas day two years ago)
  2. Several condemning blog posts about said engagements (no seriously… they’re everywhere)

While I was planning my wedding, I noticed a trend that began festering. From Huffington Post to blogs like this and ridiculous posts like this one about the “23 things you just HAVE to do instead of getting engaged before you’re 23,” people are becoming more vocalized and more vitriolic about their distaste for their fellow peers who are tying the knot in their early 20s.

These posts all share the same sentiment:

  1. People who marry young are missing out on opportunities in life
  2. People who marry young will end up divorced

These bloggers write that once you’re married, you can kiss your youth and any semblance of ‘fun’ goodbye. That walks down the aisle are now synonymous with funeral marches for your social life. That your 20s are meant for crazy, drunken nights full of bad mistakes, not picking out wedding dresses and filing joint tax returns. That anyone who gets married before the age of 25 is practically begging for a life of unhappiness.

But to lump all ‘young’ marriages into the same doomsday category is just as ignorant as calling all “millennials” lazy and uneducated.

I’m not here to advocate that people should marry young. I’m not even advocating that people need to get married at all, because it’s not for everyone. I’m a firm believer that marriage is meant to be forever – through the good, the bad, and the I-hate-your-guts-right-now downright ugly.  People should only get married when they are absolutely ready – whether that means 23 or 43 – because no two couples are the same and not all marriages are created equal.

I have seen people get married and divorced all before they celebrated their 21st birthday. I’ve seen people who have been together for a few years get married in their 40s only to get divorced a few months later. I’ve known people who married in their 20s and have been together for more than 60 years.

It seems everyone these days has their own idea of what they determine to be an acceptable age for people to make the commitment of marriage, and to those people I ask – who made you the expert in other people’s relationships? When we turn 25, is there a magical “I’m ready for marriage now” switch that suddenly goes off?

Because I’m calling bullshit.

For those who might want to throw some overly-used statistics at me right about now, here, let me do it for you.

  • According to the National Center for Health Statistics, 60 percent of marriages for couples between the ages of 20 and 25 end in divorce.
  • Also according to the National Center for Health Statistics, 50 percent of all marriages in which the brides are 25 or older result in a failed marriage.

Seems like we’re damned at any age…. According to statistics.

But like many things in life that don’t fall into black or white, definitively defined categories, marriage is a gray matter with far too many variables to consider when trying to determine why some marriages succeed and why some marriages fail. Variables that include respect, honesty, trust, love, patience, kindness, understanding and compromise. Things that take a lifetime to learn and understand and can’t be measured on a scale. Things that my parents, who have been married for nearly 30 years have been learning since they got married in their early 20s.

With all of these stories and statistics, I believe that the demise of a marriage is more a testament to the lack of maturity in the relationship, and the lack of maturity of the individuals, more-so than a person‘s age.

A successful marriage, at ANY age, is one where both partners have a strong understanding of the other’s needs and desires and work together to help achieve them. One of the most overused arguments in these anti-marriage blogs is that in your twenties you’re still discovering yourself and that you can’t discover yourself when you’re tied down to someone else. That you need to be single in order to make mistakes, figure out what you like and don’t like, travel the world and be selfish.

But I’m here to tell you I’ve done all of those things. And I’ve done them with the unfaltering love and support of my best friend and now husband. I began dating Mike when I was only 16. And in these last eight years I have traveled to Europe, graduated high school, gone to college, made new friends, lost old friends, partied until the sun came up, lost myself, found myself, spent a summer in Paris, drank too much, laughed too hard, made mistakes, had regrets, challenged myself, pursued my dreams, changed my dreams, graduated college,  landed a dream job, picked up my life and moved three states away, changed jobs, made more friends, and changed myself again.

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And I’ve done it all with Mike by my side. Encouraging me the entire way. We grew up together. And in those eight years, we’ve both changed quite a bit, and I will venture to say, it’s been for the better. Mike and I motivate and challenge each other to be better than we were yesterday. We support each other when one is weak or failing. We push each other out of our comfort zones and dare each other to try new things. But we always allow the other the space they need to grow.  Together we have faced triumphs and successes, hardships and loss. That kind of support and companionship is something I wouldn’t trade for the world, and I am incredibly lucky to have found it so early in life.

So while my counterparts may be out clubbing until 4 in the morning or backpacking across Europe to ‘find themselves’, I am content with spending a night in with my husband and our two cats. Or trying the newest hit restaurant in town. Or planning trips to Barcelona and Rome for the fall. Or hosting a dinner party with a group of close friends.  Or god forbid – spending time alone or with friends to focus on ourselves (because contrary to popular belief – married folks are able to do this too.)

It may not be your idea of what someone in her 20s should be doing – but for me, it works just fine.

And at the end of the day, isn’t that what matters? People making their own decisions to find their own version of happiness, whether that means being single, marrying the love of your life or everything else in between. Your life and the decisions you make are yours and yours alone, and deserve to be free from scrutiny and judgment.  But let’s be real… that will never happen, so ignore the naysayers and the doomsday statistics.

Cheers to you and your happiness – whatever, whenever and whoever it may be.

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Long time no write!

Hello ‘world.’

It’s been so long since I last wrote, I forgot my log-in password and had to have it emailed to me.

But, considering what I’ve been up to these last few months – I think you’ll understand.

Since we last spoke, I….

-          Got married

-          Honeymooned in Paris

-          Started a new job

….all within less than two weeks.

I’ll try to catch you up a little bit, but those giant life changes are each getting their own blog posts later next week, starting of course with the wedding of my dreams.

On September 20, all of our closest friends and family gathered in Baltimore, Md. to watch Mike and I say, “I do.” Everything about our wedding day was perfect – from the gorgeous weather (not a cloud in the sky!) to the moment we saw each other for the first time that day as I walked down the aisle (I still get chills thinking about it) to dancing the night away with the people we love most. Honestly – it was everything I had ever dreamed of and more – so expect a 2,000 word blog post on that, full of pictures, sometime early next week.

Photo credit: Nelson Pun

Photo credit: Nelson Pun

The morning after the wedding, we woke up at 7 a.m. after a brief 3 hour nap to quick throw everything into bags, get a quick shower and hop the shuttle to BWI to catch our flight to Paris for our honeymoon. I got a steal on our flights, which is probably explained by the ridiculous number of layovers… from Baltimore to Boston, from Boston to Iceland and finally from Iceland to Paris. We didn’t arrive until 6 am Sunday and of course, my bag got lost along the way, but we didn’t let it deter us. This was my third time to Paris and it was by far the most magical trip of the three – I mean, does it get any more romantic than curling up on a blanket underneath the Eiffel Tower for six hours, feeding your new husband chocolate and throwing back bottle after bottle of champagne? More on that later.

La joie de vivre!

La joie de vivre!

We got back from our honeymoon late Sunday night, and thank god we took off that Monday because we were both incredibly jet lagged and had a monstrous amount of wedding crap to clean up. The next day I started my new job as the Special Events Coordinator at The HSUS (yep – same organization, different role!) and got thrown right into the deep end as we have our biggest event coming up in just three short weeks! It’s been a whirlwind since I started but I really love it so far. I was incredibly nervous if I was making the right move career-wise by going after this job, but I think I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be. The leap of faith has proven to be worth it. Again – more on that next week.

The big day is almost here!

The big day is almost here!

I’ve missed blogging so much these past few months, but I have so many wonderful stories that I can’t wait to share with you all.

Until next time!

#39. enjoy a French brunch

I’m a bit of a Francophile. And by a bit, I mean a lot. I consider myself French though I don’t have an ounce of French blood running through my veins. But I am fluent in croissants, good wine, delicious cheese, French jazz, French art, French films and la joie de vivre.

I will be going to Paris for the third time in just 8 short weeks (this time for my honeymoon!), and as this will only be my third trip abroad, needless to say there’s just a je n’ai sais quoi about the city of light that keeps pulling me back and keeping me from seeing the rest of the world. Maybe it’s because all that is perfect and wonderful in life is found right in Paris.

One of the reasons I fell in love with D.C. was because of its resemblance to my favorite city in the world. And it’s no coincidence either! D.C. was designed with the help of famed French architect Pierre L’Enfant. Throughout the city you can find broad-sweeping city streets and sidewalks, grand and intricate building facades, all an homage to Paris. There are also a good amount of amazing French restaurants in the city, so I thought it only appropriate to take a stroll down memory lane by including “enjoy a French brunch” on my 213 in 2013 list. Why brunch? Because it’s the best meal of the day obviously.

French art adorns the walls of Bistro la Bonne.

French art adorns the walls of Bistro la Bonne.

To make checking this item off the list even sweeter, I got to go to brunch with my study abroad BFF who happened to be in town visiting for the weekend. She and I tore up the streets of Paris for four weeks, so I found it only appropriate that we reconnect at a quaint French bistro for some Sunday morning brunch.

I chose Bistro la Bonne for our rendez-vous. It was quaint, and simple, and it reminded me of any number of bistros you’d find lining the streets of Paris. I didn’t go with Le Diplomate because I wasn’t interested in Disney Paris when I was abroad, nor was I interested in it now. I just wanted authentic, honest French food, and Bistro la Bonne did not disappoint in the slightest.

I know this looks like ordinary french toast, but its actually some of the best french toast in the world.

I know this looks like ordinary french toast, but its actually some of the best french toast in the world.

For the next two hours (because time is of no issue when dining like the French do), we sucked down bellinis and caught up on life, from new jobs to new cities to old memories while dining on the most incredible french toast I’ve ever had the pleasure of eating, topped with fresh berries and Chantilly cream. And we piled on more carbs with garlicky, cheesy, butter potatoes au gratin, perfectly crispy and salty pomme frites and of course, a big ol’ plate of escargot.

Carbo-loading.

Carbo-loading.

How about a little snail for dessert?

How about a little snail for dessert?

The food was delicious. The drinks were bottomless. The company was the crème de la crème.

Overall, it was the perfect French brunch. I can’t wait for the next one – and this time, it’ll be in Paris.

#37. & #38. father-daughter dates and paying it forward

I have been a daddy’s girl as long as I can remember. Ok, I’m a momma’s girl too (I lucked out with two super awesome parents), but my dad and I are practically the exact same person. He’s the guy who introduced me to Jules Verne and gave me my thirst for adventure and travel. He taught me how to make the perfect pancakes. Because of him, my first word as a baby was AC/DC thanks to continuous replays of Thunderstruck and Back in Black. He’s incredibly smart, creative, idealistic and one hell of a cook. I’m thankful to take after him so much.

As a teenager you go through this transition – from worshiping your parents as kids to not wanting to be in a 500 foot radius of them. Hanging out with your parents is no longer the cool thing to do, and so you replace Sunday morning breakfasts with your dad for Shady Maple trips with your best friends. Instead of staying in and watching a movie with him, you opt for boozy movie and manicure nights with your gals.

Then you hit your twenties, and you move a few states away and you realize how much you miss Sunday morning pancakes. And reciting lines from National Lampoon’s Vacation. Which is why it was so important for me to take my dad out for a father-daughter date this summer. Especially considering that the last one was 12 years ago.

Twelve years ago, I was in sitting in Ms. Lawlor’s history class. I was in 6th grade and it was my 11th birthday. We were doing presentations on the 50 states when my name was called for an early dismissal. I went down to the office and my dad was standing there with a big grin on his face. We went and saw Monsters Inc. at the local movie theater and grabbed some pizza afterwards. To this day, it is still one of my favorite birthdays and memories with my dad.

Always being one for sentimentality, I thought it would be adorable to take him to see the new Monsters University movie, to inject some nostalgia into our date. We bought tickets for a Sunday matinee showing, ordered a giant bucket of buttery popcorn and sat ourselves between dozens of other dads and their young daughters. So young their feet couldn’t even touch the ground. Before the movie started I looked around and watched as one dad fixed his little girl’s bow in her hair. She looked up at him and smiled so wide she looked like she could burst and she quickly gave him a kiss on the cheek. My dad had been watching too and we both looked at each other and smiled, remembering the days when my feet couldn’t touch the ground and he had to fix the bows in my hair too, years and years ago.

The movie was good. We both enjoyed it and even laughed a few times throughout. Afterwards, I treated him to lunch at the Olive Garden across the street and we spent the next hour talking about everything from work to weddings to favorite memories. To wrap up the day, we stopped at Dick’s Sporting Goods because he needed a new pair of work shoes. Because he spends all day making deliveries and driving a truck, a pair of good, durable work shoes always set him back at least $100. My dad is always looking out for others before himself, so I knew I wanted to do something extra nice for him. Before I knew it, I was swiping my card at the register and the look of surprise that came over his face made the dent in my credit card balance completely worth it.

A few hours later I packed up my stuff and was getting ready to leave for the 3 hour drive back to Maryland. Before I got in the car he gave me a big hug, told me how much he loved me and appreciated everything I had done for him that day, from the movie to lunch to his new shoes.

I kissed him on the cheek. And I made him pinky swear it wouldn’t be another 12 years until the next date.

My mom and dad at my recent bridal shower.

My mom and dad at my recent bridal shower.

I only wish I had known when I was 13 what I know now: that spending quality time with your dad is totally one of the “coolest” things you can do.

#36. have an awesome bridal shower

We are officially in double-digit territory folks. That’s right. There are now only 93 days left until the ‘big day’ and Mike and I are scrambling to get things together.

Two weeks ago my sister, the maid of honor in my wedding, and my bridesmaids hosted my bridal shower at my mom’s house.

After weeks and weeks of a constant barrage of texts from Rissa, telling me about all the wonderful things she had planned, I could barely contain my excitement. Thanks to Pinterest, coupled with my early-age obsession with all things wedding, I had created in my head the bridal shower of my dreams.

It would be pink. Definitely pink.

And there would be champagne. Lots of it.

And a beautiful cake.

And flowers, and delicious food and small beautiful details.

And my closet friends and family.

But then I reminded myself to be realistic and decided I’d be happy with just pizza, friends and booze.

The day before the shower, I picked up Bethany and her, Mike and I made the three hour trek to Pennsylvania. After filling up on half priced appetizers at Applebee’s, we went back to Rissa’s and crashed for the night. (I’m convinced Bethany is a saint for surviving six total hours with Mike and I in the car and having to spend an entire weekend with my friends and family).

The next morning I anxiously got ready in my new mint lace dress. I quickly blow dried my hair and scrutinized my makeup. I wanted to look like a ‘blushing bride.’ B and I grabbed some Wawa iced coffees to give ourselves the needed fuel to make it throughout the long day ahead.

Before I knew it I was receiving text after text from Rissa telling me to hurry up and come over – that it was finally time for my bridal shower to start.

We pulled up and after giving out a few hugs to those who were waiting on the front porch, Rissa walked me through the house to see everything.

And nothing – no dreamed up vision, no Pinterest board, no TLC reality TV show could have prepared me for how absolutely beautiful and amazing and perfect everything was. I was literally lost for words (which doesn’t happen often).

There was pink. Everywhere.

And champagne. Lots of it.

And the most beautiful cake I had ever seen.

And flowers. And tables full of delicious food. And so many small beautiful details I couldn’t take them all in fast enough.

And most importantly, my closest family and friends.

The beautiful spread. Photo courtesy of B. Roons.

The beautiful spread. Photo courtesy of B. Roons.

My favorite thing: a mimosa bar. Photo courtesy of B. Roons.

My favorite thing: a mimosa bar. Photo courtesy of B. Roons.

The cake in all her Parisian sparkly glory. Photo courtesy of B. Roons.

The cake in all her Parisian sparkly glory. Photo courtesy of B. Roons.

...And my reaction to said amazing cake.

…And my reaction to said amazing cake.

By the time I made it to the back deck, my eyes were swelling up with tears because I was completely and utterly overwhelmed with how perfect everything was. It was all I had ever dreamed of and more. And  so I buried my face in Rissa’s shoulder as we both sobbed and whimpered to each other how much we loved one another. Because we’re big babies like that.

Soon to be Mrs. (Ianni)-Young.

Soon to be Mrs. (Ianni)-Young.

Mmm, mimosa. Courtesy: B. Roons.

Mmm, mimosa. Courtesy: B. Roons.

I got spoiled.

I got spoiled.

The rest of the day was filled with lots of mimosas, and catching up with friends I hadn’t seen in awhile, and snapping dozens of pictures, and wrapping ourselves in toilet paper, and laughing until our stomachs ached. There were speeches. And tears. And more mimosas. And love. Lots and lots of love.

So much love I felt like I could burst.

So. much. love.

So. much. love.

The three musketeers.

The three musketeers.

Two of my favorite ladies. Photo courtesy of Bethany.

Two of my favorite ladies. Photo courtesy of Bethany.

My temple ladies.

My temple ladies.

I felt so lucky that day, looking around the room and each of those women, to call them my friends and my family. Especially my amazing bridal party for everything they did to put it together, my mom for not having a complete panic attack with all the commotion in her house, and of course, my best friend, sister, and maid of honor, Rissa for always finding a way to give me the world and more.

My amazing bridal party.

My amazing bridal party.

My best friend, sister, maid of honor. Basically, I'd be lost without her.

My best friend, sister, maid of honor. Basically, I’d be lost without her.

After everyone started trickling out and the final hugs were exchanged, the few of us that remained chowed down on pizzas. 6 large pizzas and 2 orders of breadsticks to be exact. What can I say, bridal showers will take a lot out of you.

Hungry much?

Hungry much?

Jess, Bethany, Rissa, me and the boys stayed up drinking margaritas and playing card games late into the night. It was the perfect way to end an already perfect day.

Margaritas & a game of bullshit.

Margaritas & a game of bullshit.

The next morning, everyone was slow and sluggish, still recovering from Saturday’s festivities. After more coffee, croissants and muffins, Mike, Bethany and I stuffed the gifts into the car and made the three hour drive home, with a Rita’s pit stop on the way.

My breakfast the following day, a disgustingly delicious truffle.

My breakfast the following day, a disgustingly delicious truffle.

Mike and I spent the next three hours cleaning the apartment and setting up all of our beautiful gifts, turning our place into even more of a home.

Rissa's (one of many) beautiful gift to me - a love bracelet to match with hers.

Rissa’s (one of many) beautiful gift to me – a love bracelet to match with hers.

I sprawled out across the floor, exhausted and sweaty, but happy, and closed my eyes, replaying the entire weekend in my mind again.

It really was that perfect.

Family forever, for always and no matter what.

Family forever, for always and no matter what.