Monday, December 30, 2013

Creating a Year of Gratefulness

Over the years I've slowly let go of the tradition of making new year's resolutions, largely because I am someone who tries to challenge myself in all areas of my life throughout the year - as soon as I am enticed by some new activity or goal, I like beginning the journey towards it immediately rather than waiting until some artificially "perfect" start date.

This year has been huge for me in accomplishing some of my biggest life goals - including adopting a compassionate diet, making yoga a regular part of each day/week and coming more in-tune to my true self's voice and desires. But one of the largest transformations I've noticed in myself over the last few years has been my attitude. I will admit that while growing up, almost any activity felt like a chore, and even the idea of having to do something made it that much less appealing. I wouldn't say I always saw the glass as half-empty, but it wasn't until these middle-twenties that I learned how to "do what you love and love what you do".
I've learned that a large part of doing what you love and loving what you do is deliberately changing your attitude and perspective to realize the beauty and joy that can come from the simplest blessings in life. Whether it's an unexpected compliment from your boss, or a friendly conversation with your check-out clerk at the grocery store, these little joys will transform your day and perspective if you let them.

I am proud of Jason and I for already establishing gratitude for these moments as a cornerstone of our family and life together, but I also think that it is something (similar to marriage) that takes daily effort and practice. So I decided to borrow and idea I've seen circulating on Pinterest and Facebook about a gratitude jar for 2014 (sadly I wasn't able to find the actual address where this image below came from so I can't give the original creator due credit):

The idea is to write down little blessings, funny memories or momentous occasions that happen throughout the year, and then go back on the following New Years to read-through and remember all the amazing things that the previous year held.

Step-by-Step How To:
First I went into Microsoft Word and changed my page size to match a 3x5 index card, then created a little sign that would remind us of the little things to document in this jar. I chose to indicate "LOL moments", "God's Presence in our Everyday Lives", "Exciting News", "Unexpected Blessings", "Accomplishments", and "Surprise Gifts":

After looking through our left-over wedding decorations I found a great fishbowl shaped jar that we had used with our candy buffet along with some other supplies: double-sided tape, colored index cards for the blessing notes, my paper cutter and a little votive candle holder to hold the blank blessing notes:

I used the double-sided tape to attach the sign to the jar, cut the colored note cards in half, and then wrote "date:" on each one so that we would remember to put the date onto the cards as we filled up our jar throughout the year:

Then I just place all the little note cards into the votive holder and Voila!

I would always roll my eyes when I heard others say things like, "Life is what you make it" or "It's all what you make of it" but now I see how much happier, exciting and peaceful life can be when you constantly remind yourself of the good things in life. Plus I think this will be a fun tradition to add to our annual new years get together with Jason's family (or even a cute way to collect memories to make a fun scrapbook page for each year with all of our memories and blessings).

Happy New Year!

Friday, December 27, 2013

Our Big Day! (and the night before) Part I

No one could have prepared me for the chaos and busyness that the last 4 months created in Jason and my lives between some family health scares, the passing of a beloved family pet, our bachelor and bachelorette parties, my 26th birthday, both Jason and my acceptances into the next steps of our professional educations...oh yeah and our wedding!

Not having a wedding planner really worked for us as I prefer to take on the added stress of being in charge if it means that I get to be aware of all the decisions, plans, etc. that are involved in an event. But the time and effort that pulling those final details together took were much more than I expected. I still don't regret doing it by myself, and had some of the best months of my life leading up to the wedding; but that kind of commitment also meant letting some of my free-time activities sit on the back-burner (one of those obviously being this blog!).

But true-to-form I continued to document every creative project and task leading up to our wedding - so now that I have a nice break before my MBA program begins in January, I have an arsenal full of stories, details and crafts to post about :)


Our Big Day! (and the night before) Part I

Truly one of my and Jason's favorite parts of our wedding celebration was the rehearsal dinner his parent's hosted on the night before our ceremony. There was this amazing peace that settled over me on that day where I realized that everything was done - sure there were still details and questions that could be worried over and talked about - but when it came down to it, I was finally (after 18 months of planning) at a place that I could safely relinquish all control and just enjoy myself!

It also didn't hurt that after our rehearsal were greeted by sixty of our closest family members, friends and out-of-town guests at one of the coziest restaurants in downtown Rome, GA. There was so much anticipation and excitement in the dining room, I don't think anyone could help but join in on the celebration...

While I had zero free-time to spare in those last few weeks before our big day, I decided a few weeks before the rehearsal dinner that I wanted to carve out an evening to design the invitation for this as well. The last year and a half has been filled with reasons to continue my graphic-design projects for various parties, showers and celebrations related to our wedding, but the reality was that these events were soon coming to an end and with the encouragement of my family and friends I realized how special it would be to look back on Jason and my wedding weekend and see that every invitation, insert and special touch was something that I created (I admit it also helped that the perfectionist in me wasn't 100% satisfied with any of the rehearsal dinner invite options available for us to simply order from another designer online).

I've said many times before on this blog that I believe there in a unique opportunity that sending formal invitations out for events has - not only does it excite the recipient by receiving something other than a bill in their mailbox, but it also allows the hosts to set the tone for the celebration. We definitely wanted our rehearsal dinner to be classy and romantic, but more-than-anything we wanted to have a kick-off that would get everyone relaxed for the weekend, provide an opportunity for long-distance friends and family to reconnect and to show everyone on a more personal level how excited we were to have them in town to celebrate with us.

We let the restaurant and delicious food take care of the romance and classiness of the evening, so I took some time to include some personal touches to remind everyone of why we were all there to celebrate, and how they had all been involved and important in our lives up to that point.

We used the sign that my mom had painted for us as a shower gift earlier in the year near the entrance of the restaurant with all of our seating cards. I thought it was a cute touch that hinted at our rustic-theme for the following day (the below picture is from the shower in June - we were a little too busy at the dinner to remember and take pictures of every detail :P ).

The other personal touch (and I know most people's favorite) was the table numbers that I crafted together, using side-by-side pictures of Jason and I at the ages of the table's number (seen below in the middle of my cousins' table):

It was too fun pouring over both my mom and Jason's mom's collections of photos of us growing up, seeing silly similarities between us as kids (like how we both have the crazy three-year-old eyes haha). 

Many people asked about how I found the time, and reminded me of how crazy I was to do it, to create all of these small details for our big day but I tried to remember to tell them all that it never felt like cramming it in, or another to-do item on my list. I have always loved crafting, photos, blogging/writing so it was really such a wonderful excuse to give myself the time to actually do these things again. 

Jason and I both begin classes during the first few weeks in January so I know that life will inevitably become hectic again soon, but I'm hoping today's impulse to post some of our rehearsal dinner details will serve as a reminder to me of how much I enjoy sharing these fun projects with my family, friends and maybe even some random internet surfers via the blogosphere. That's all for today - but keep your eyes out for many more posts as I still have a lot of fun little crafts and projects to go back and share on here :)

And Happy New Year from Jason, Kelly and Mya Mincey! xoxo