Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Dear 15 Year Old Self,

My boss, Ashley #1, found an article and sent it my way saying, "Love Struck material." I read it, and of course I agreed. The Huffington Post article "15 Truths I Wish I'd Known About Love 15 Years Ago" is one that everybody should read and then reflect on. Considering I was only 8 years old, I can't write mine based on 15 years ago. But, I was 15 years old 8 years ago…so here are my 8 truths I'd wish I'd known about love 8 years ago.

1. It's not the end of your world. 
I look back at myself and can't help but giggle. I thought one person made up my world. I was determined that he was the one. By he, I mean my first love. When we would fight or break up, I would become so devastated…with a hint of crazy…but as far as I knew, my life was over. I'd be single forever. While still dating this person on and off at the beginning of college, I literally woke up one day and was over it. He wasn't my world…and looking back, he never really was. I don't regret all of the emotion I felt over several years, but sometimes you have to shed a few tears, eat some ice cream, and slap a smile on your face. 

Parting ways won't be the end of your world; it will actually be the beginning of a whole new one. Remember this in any relationships end. 

2. Personality > Appearance. 
Girls (or teens) do not look their age these days. They look older than me. Attention young-girls-wearing-too-much-makeup-and-not-enough-clothes, you won't find a healthy relationship that way, and you may be attracting the wrong boys.

You think your looks mean everything now, but 8 years from now, you will care about your HEALTH and finding yourself.

Eight years from now, after a few bad relationships, you will find out that finding someone with an awesome personality and someone who values your personality will lead to a much better relationship than one completely consumed by sexiness. Guess what, your personality can be sexy too.

3. Love yourself first.  
At 15 years young, I forgot to love myself and thought it was only about loving someone else. I was wrong.

You are young, and this time is meant for you to learn how to love yourself. If you don't appreciate and love yourself, then you won't know how to really love or appreciate someone else.

4. It's OK to be single. 
I went through a 6 year phase of binge dating and relationships. Two long term relationships happened during that time. When I was a Sophomore in college, I decided to take a break. I was mentally and emotionally exhausted. I didn't date again for two and a half years. During that time, I did several things that were out of my comfort zone (took a spring break trip to Hawaii with a complete group of strangers), concentrated on family (rebuilt a relationship with my mom), and I figured out what I wanted to do with my life post college (I took several internships, built a resume, and gained tons of experience). I found myself through going out of my comfort zone and challenging myself on what I wanted out of this one life.

In 8 years, you will be thankful for that time alone. You will be so scared, but it will be completely worth it. And remember, you really aren't ever alone.

5. Take hints.
I failed miserably at taking hints. I ended up hurt at the end of it. This one is common sense: If he isn't calling/texting you, then he isn't into you. Don't push it.

Don't worry. You will only feel the pain of rejection for a night, and then you will move on. In 8 years, you will have forgotten those losers anyway.

P.S. Make sure he takes your hints as well. No means NO. Period. Stick to your guns and don't be pressured.

6. You might never know why. Accept it. 
Sometimes in life, you will have to go through things and there won't be a rhyme or reason for it. This is especially true in relationships. I used to need a reason to try to make sense of why a break up was happening or why someone didn't like me. Well, that reason doesn't matter because it wouldn't have made me feel any better.

Things fall a part for a reason that you may never know. You don't always need a reason. Be Ok with it. Trust yourself and your decision. Accept it. Then, let it go.

7. Love isn't what you think it is.
I knew that I was in love in high school. Putting his needs before my own, constantly wondering what he was doing, always wanting to see him…well, this was more like an infatuation than being in love. At 15, I would've debated that statement and defended my love. Three serious relationships and eight years later, I've learned the difference between being in love and lust/infatuation.

My young self, you think you know what love is, but you have no idea of what love love entails. Real love is so much deeper than what you felt in the past. It's not just an infatuation or obsession. Real love is a deep connection where both people acknowledge, respect, and appreciate each other's unique nature and well-being for the individual and the relationship.

That may be too wordy for my 15 year old self. But just know, it's better than anything you will experience in high school.

8. Don't search for love. 
They say love finds you in the most unexpected moments and places, and I believe it. There's no need to spend your days searching for your soul mate. Instead of searching for the wrong love (the kind you want just because you are single and "lonely"), love yourself and the right love will enter your life.

Love isn't something you need to look for or seek out, like it's something missing from your life. Love is something you already have. You are love, and you are loved. It's basically a lifestyle, a way of living. It's a state of mind. Live your life doing these three things: Love yourself, love others, love life and then everything else will happen in the right time.

Dear 15 year old self, don't give up. You have so much love to give, and there's an even better love out there waiting for you.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Ryle + Kevin

It's been a few weeks since I've shared a love story. Since the weather is so nice, it only makes sense to warm some hearts with Ryle and Kevin's love story! I had the pleasure of working with Ryle for a very brief time over the holidays a few years ago. We were coordinating a wedding together and during some down time, she told me and a few other girls about this guy she had just started seeing. She was supposed to move back North a few weeks after I met her, so we all assumed that this was just a fling. Well, we were wrong… :) 

From Ryle: We both joined a kickball team to have fun... not to find love. Besides who finds love when your team name is “Pitches be crazy.  And yet we did find love, not right away, but when it happened it was one of those moments where life changed.

October of last year- theme night for our kickball league. Our team had decided to sport a wonderful array of tacky vests. Despite being halfway through our kickball season we had yet to meet in person. (Our team group email allowed us to both know that there was a Kevin and a Ryle team mate.) But our busy schedules kept us from ever meeting face to face. Until tacky vest night. Strolling up in my oh so wonderful Halloween knit vest I spotted a guy with a dog. All the other games I had been at we had never had a dog and the fact that I just adopted a pup the week before had me bee lining to see who this was that had brought along a furry friend. And there was Kevin decked out in his cowboy vest with his dog Flash in tow. It is crazy now to look back at this very moment and think that this is when it all really began. A quick introduction, talking about puppy parenthood, and then running off to the field to start the game.

A few weeks later and only 2 other games and sparse conversation we ended up sitting next to one another at the bar after our final game. 4 hours later we were still there chatting about everything and anything. Including how Kevin was still settling into Nashville and the new potential job that would make his stay there official, and me informing him of how my lease was up at the end of January and I was going to move to New York. My Nashville days were expiring and I was ready to go. It felt like we covered it all, down to Kevin telling me about the engagement ring he would inherit when the time was right. –Still have no idea how that came up, but it’s so crazy to think of now! Finally leaving at 2 am we made plans to see each other the following day.

Heading home in the wee hours, my mind was spinning. I was planning to leave Nashville and head back north. I was so ready for a new city, new experiences and go back to school. Meeting a guy was the last thing I needed to be doing, and yet here we were, talking nonstop that first night, making plans for that weekend, discussing so many different things. There is all those sayings “ love finds you when you least expect it”, “life is what happens when you are making other plans” etc. all quotes that I use to roll my eyes to and now they kept rolling through my head. Kevin and I had made plans to see each other the next night and ended up being almost inseparable for the rest of the weekend, one date just rolled into another. Without actually sharing this thought with one another we were both on the same path of figuring out if this was really “something”. Kevin was leaving town in a week and wouldn’t be back for another 2 ½ weeks, and I was planning on completely moving out of the state. Nothing like a little pressure. 

By the end of that first weekend I just had this feeling, I just knew that Kevin was “the one”. It is always crazy to hear other people describe it, until it actually happens. And it is just incredible (absolutely horrifying) but incredible. After seeing one another a few more times that week Kevin took off for home and Thanksgiving. Both did not plan to talk much while he was gone, yet we ended up on the phone every night. The weeks he was gone were filled with me trying to figure everything out. Do I stay in Nashville and see what happens? Do I just hang out with him till it is time for me to move? Is he really interested? Thank goodness for great friends who were willing to listen to me ramble on about this as I tried to figure it all out. Those few weeks seemed like they dragged on forever. I did not think I could possibly miss someone that I had barely known a few weeks before but as his return date grew closer we both were as excited as kids on Christmas morning. By the time Kevin returned my life plans completely changed.  I decided to stay in Nashville and see where this could all go.

Two months later, Kevin and I had both found new places to live. My lease was signed and his deposit was paid. Kevin was also in the process of accepting a new position with his company when a counter offer was given to him. This offer included moving to Minnesota. I always remember coming home from work and trying to quickly get ready for dinner as he talked about his day and meetings and then said to me “ I realized today that I am absolutely in love with you and cannot imagine my future without you”. He then told me about the new offer he had to move to Minnesota and asked if I would ever consider moving with him. I think my mind was made up before he even finished his sentence.

Another two months later, and Kevin, me and our two dogs were packed into the car and heading north to our new home. Moving to Minneapolis has felt like a whirlwind. Settling in, discovering the city, birthdays, an amazing proposal, figuring out life as an engaged couple, starting new jobs, surviving the cold, the beginning stages of planning a wedding. It has been quite the adventure.

It is amazing now to think back to a year ago, and to realize how much has happened in just a year. I would have never thought that I would be so lucky as to meet such an incredible person as Kevin is. We have both learned so much about who we are and how to continue to grow as a couple. No love story is complete without its ups and downs, and definitely in the past year with so many changes it was not always easy. Yet we have worked so hard to learn from the tough times, and the good and the bad has helped to teach us who we are as a couple.  With our marriage less than a year away now we are so looking forward to growing as a couple with plenty of good times ahead and a commitment to work through the difficult times.  The two of us can't wait to begin the rest of our lives together and write the rest of this story.

Our assumption was totally wrong, and we are all so happy about it! You can find love in the most unexpected places and situations. Her opening line says it all,  "And yet we did find love, not right away, but when it happened it was one of those moments where life changed." I wish Ryle and Kevin nothing short of an amazing life together.