FitBitter and Thirty-Fiveness

Kite Aerial Photography above Prescott, MI Explored!

Photo courtesy of George Thomas on Flickr

I’ve hit some invisible milestone in my life’s journey. Tripped over it is more like it.

Maybe it’s better to say I came to a crossroads. Perhaps it’s because this year marks ten years since I graduated from college. Inwardly, my eyes widen at the thought. Has it really been ten freaking years? Followed by: holy crap, a lot has happened in a decade.

As I began my college journey at twenty-one, I was twenty-five when I graduated, so ten years since that point in time goes from exactly mid-twenties to exactly mid-thirties. The differences between twenty-five, thirty, and thirty-five are so remarkably different, it takes my breath away. And sometimes makes me laugh, since I’m the same-but-also-different person from who I was at 25.

By now, lots of people my age are parents; I am not one at this point. Still, it is not a little awing to watch almost everyone you know become a parent. I’m going to borrow the imagery that the metamorphosis is akin to watching a butterfly emerge from its chrysalis–they’re the same beings, but markedly different. My basic point is that even not being a parent, hitting thirty-five is a particular time in life where I’m re-prioritizing my priorities. What’s next? What do I want go glean from life? (And also, oh God, I only have five more years before I’m 40!)

Case in point: I’ve napped far too long on the subject of my health. After I dealt with some health issues between 2011 and 2012, I thought it would be easier to get all disciplined about taking better care of myself. Unfortunately, in the wake of chronic stress from work, then suddenly finding myself engaged and doing All the Wedding Planning, those events did the opposite of motivating me to get more exercise and change my nutritional intake and habits.

I know most women love using a wedding as a reason to go all kinds of crazy about slimming down to fit into a dress, but that just wasn’t and isn’t my style. I felt I couldn’t handle the pressure to look a certain way on top of managing all the other zillion details going on in that eighteen-month planning period. And ultimately, I am relieved for multiple reasons that I did not give in to that notion.

Fast forward to early July of 2015, where I had been ruminating for what feels like an eternity on my health and habits, and I had my moment where I made the decision I was going to do something differently when I decided to just step on the scale and face what I’d been avoiding.

The number that stared back at me jolted me.

The perfect word for being at a loss for words

The perfect meme for being at a loss for words

I decided, in a flash and with zero hesitation, that I was changing some things. This could no longer stand.

Normally, the infantile part of myself that is scared to make changes, particularly when it comes to self-care and exercise, would rear her ugly head and paralyze me. Somehow, the in-charge adult upstairs managed to lock her in a closet so I could do what I needed to do without over-analyzing everything to death, as is my proclivity in life.

where-the-magic-happensI knew that if I was going to do something 180 from my current lifestyle, and if I wanted to effect long-lasting habits, I was going to have to try something I hadn’t before.

With a deep breath, I began researching fitness monitors and, with the recommendation of a coworker, went with a FitBit HR charge. It comes in two colors: dude/unisex and more feminine/plum. Normally, I would have gone for the plum but the plum stands out more, in my opinion, and I wear a lot of black, so I figured the black one would “blend in” as much as one can.

I usually avoid wearing anything on my wrists, including bracelets, but this wasn’t about what I wanted to be doing, something I’m still reminding myself of, and wearing a fitness device certainly isn’t a fashion statement, no matter what the companies purport.

Another reason I chose the fitness monitor that I did is the FitBit app ranks quite highly, if not at the top of the pile, and now that I’ve been using it for a couple of weeks, I can see why.

It is simple-pimple to use, for starters. All of the metrics it tracks are cool and convenient, especially if you’re a metrics/stats nerd, as I am. I’ve used it to track my sleep but as time has gone on, I find that being such a light sleeper makes me much more aware that I have the FitBit on, so I usually take it off at night. Still, for an occasional nap or just for experimentation’s sake, it really is eye-opening to see how restless one is during sleep hours.

A trend I noticed right off is that I went from pretty highly restless, as high as 33 times a night, to far far far less restless, maybe 1-7 times a night, especially as I increased my workouts during the week. There would be long stretches of “radio silence” showing on the app, which means deep sleep, and I began noticing I was generally more refreshed in the mornings, even for work and waking at 6am.

FitBit will send weekly progress reports, award arbitrary “badges” along the way, and I gotta admit it’s cute when the FitBit does it’s little happy dance when I reach my step goal for the day. (And for anyone interested, Zumba classes give you lots and lots of steps to help knock down that goal.) I’ve made friends with a wrist unit and for the time being, we’re on good terms.

The bottom line here is that for the first time in a really long time (and in some aspects of this, first time ever), I’m utilizing the tools at my disposal, e.g. a gym membership and a fitness monitor, to help me actively work toward long-standing goals that have been sitting on a shelf in my brain collecting dust for a long time. I also fully admit that having a supportive spouse who is along for the ride is half the battle. We are both eating healthier, making activity a priority, and enjoying not feeling completely wiped out every single night from a day at work. Exercise seems to be breathing life into the precious few hours we have in a given day for personal time, much as I hate to admit it, or even as much as I hate to get sweaty and gross to attain it.

The hardest part of all of this, honestly, is going to be remaining patient and focusing on the journey, while at the same time keeping my eyes on the end goal. It’s so easy to give up. And boring, frankly. People get all excited when they first hear that you’re making lifestyle changes and then after a week or so, forget about it until one day, they’re like, “Are you still doing that?” Yes, yes I am.

To be perfectly Stuart Smalley about it, it’s all about “progress, not perfection.” So here goes nothing.

smalley

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Compartmentalizing

I have been away from the writing machine for a while. I didn’t disappear into a vacuum (though I have my days I wish I could). My energies have been focused on the other arena of creative work which I have written about a lot since 2014–that being crochet. There is so much to learn and endless things to make, so my craft workshop couch is where I have been, wiling away my after-work and weekend hours with hooks and yarn. And then of course there is all the taking-of-the-pictures-of-the-crochet.

In light of all that, I came to the conclusion just last week that this blog felt more disjointed with the crochet posts. I then thought about how I wanted an undiluted platform where I can solely focus on geeking out over crochet. (And yarn, if I’m being honest.)

There are probably some of you readers who don’t mind the crochet posts, or even quite enjoy them. And for those who have been patiently enduring the craft chat (or perhaps not), now is your time to rejoice, for I will no longer be inundating this space with crochet talk. Being a Type A person, it feels good to compartmentalize and organize my passions into their little blog boxes.

To that end, if you’re interested in continuing to read about my adventures with crochet, head over to Zavvy Creations where you can subscribe by email or follow via WordPress. I already have a few things up and more ideas percolating.

It will also feel good to allow my other posts here that have been collecting digital dust in my Drafts to be fleshed out and polished, so their little corks may bob to the surface.

C’est tout pour l’instant! More to come–whee!

The Angst of Buying a Blender

Daily married life, thus far, hasn’t proved to be an entirely different experience than when my husband and I were just “boyfriend-girlfriend.” I take comfort in that.

However, one subtle shift has taken place: buying things for the home. Unless I purchase something completely personal to me that doesn’t wipe out our savings, everything else is a “joint purchase.” There are those little words again: we…us…ours.

Something that has been on my list for some time now is a blender. We have an outdated crappy one, albeit with a glass carafe. That was about its only redeeming quality.

The hubs could not understand why we needed one. He kept insisting that our old one worked just fine, despite the fact that anytime he even wanted to make a protein shake, of which the ingredients are powder, ice, and milk, he would have to physically shake the blender while it was on to assist in shifting the ingredients around in the pitcher. Not ideal.

In researching blenders, I came to find out that along the blending spectrum, there is a sharp increase in price as blending technology improves. You’ve got your $30-40 Cheapo brands, which means purchasing one equates to throwing one’s money in the garbage, your mid-priced brands with name recognition–and decent-but-not-great blending functionality–in the $70-150 range, and then you immediately surge up to the $400-600 blenders that promise to change your life FOREVER, which of course means it’s a VitaMix, the Holy Grail of blenders. Not sure what the issues are in blending technology that it takes making a blender that costs someone upwards of $600, but apparently only the wealthy (or irresponsible spenders) are allowed to benefit from it.

It looks like a regular blender, right? But....$500?

It looks like a regular blender, right? But….$500?

As I had no desire to spend an entire year of my life saving up for a blender, we did what most people do: scrounge around for a 20% off coupon from Bed Bath & Beyond and hope they have something decent in the mid-priced range that will do what it’s supposed to do.

Aside from being slightly disappointed at the lack of inventory in stock (and then remembering that, including myself, most people are buying items online nowadays), what surprised me was that blenders with glass pitchers have now gone the way of the black rhino–only a few are in existence.

The only one I saw was a $40 crappy one that I staunchly avoided. Sadly, everything is plastic now, even when you are willing to spend $100 or more on an appliance. I am sure the savings are passed on to the consumer but if I had my druthers, I prefer glass and would pay a little more for it. Aside: my dear father, who is rather old-fashioned, was aghast at this plastic-carafe news when I told him about it. He suggested I try finding a replacement glass pitcher for the Ninja Professional 1000. I love that guy.Ninja_zoesays

Moving along. We had done our proper reviews research (promptly ignoring the one-star reviews from those people who don’t know how a blender works or were mad that the box was dented when it arrived) and with a little leap of faith, we invested in a Ninja–the Professional 1000, to be exact. A Ninja blender sounds straight out of SNL or Made-for-TV Land, but it is, in fact, a legit brand. This thing has three tiers on the blade and when it’s on, there is no doubt that something is being pulverized. Admittedly, it’s loud, but it works.

After the first go around with the blender, in which my dear husband overfilled it and we had a near disaster on our hands, I took over the smoothie-making in the household and lovingly demonstrated the proper proportion of fruit to protein powder to ice to liquid.

Result:

Ned Ryerson

Since the implementation of successful blended drinks has taken place, we are blending fools, making one healthy smoothie after another. Our little Ninja is proving itself to be quite the decent purchase, thank me very much.

I am sure we will eventually find our way to discovering other uses for the blender….perhaps we’ll get creative and make Adult Smoothies when we want fruit and a relaxing drink. (I believe they’re called “daiquiris.”)

booze

A successful foray into Joint Married Purchases, if I do say so myself.

Wed

Happy New Year, friends!

I took a little sabbatical from posting in the latter part of 2014 and there is good reason for that.

On October 25, 2014, I married my best friend and the most wonderful man I know. After almost two whole years of engagement, planning a wedding, and designing a honeymoon that we hoped would work out (and it did!), the misty ethereal imaginings of our ceremony and fancy party became a reality.

In terms of anticipation, my wedding day was my entire lifetime of Christmases combined. I just could not fathom how it would all be on the day of until I was experiencing it. And every person who gave me the advice that there would be things happening that were completely out of my control was absolutely right.

  • My dress wasn’t perfectly pin straight after being pressed.
  • We ended up taking a cab from the reception to our hotel because of a SNAFU with the limo company. It was late, it began to rain, and we were hauling all of our wedding paraphernalia into and out of a minivan taxi. Fun times.
  • I found out way later that someone had broken into our car the night before the wedding, something my very wise husband kept from me on the wedding day, as nothing was broken or taken. (My decision to not keep anything of value in our car paid off, at least.)

And you know what?

Courtesy of NBC Universal

In fact, it was the journey leading up to the wedding day that held a number of surprises I didn’t expect–many more than any small things that took place the day of.

Things like:

An imminent wedding brings out ALL the feels in everybody.
There is something about the acts of booking a reception hall, picking out invitations, dress shopping, cake tasting, photographer interviewing, and a million other details in this process that makes anyone who has ever gotten married much more emotional–and I mean every emotion on the spectrum. To be sure, it is a thrilling time. I had a ball during the major part of the last two years and have been touched beyond measure by people’s thoughtfulness and generosity.

But man alive, not only will you go from manic to drop-dead exhausted all in the course of minutes or hours, but anybody involved in the planning will also add his or her feelings into the mix, causing quite the Feels Party. It could be about an accessory, the location of a hotel, what kinds of favors to include in hotel welcome bags, or any number of issues a person has about the Wedding Day Schedule. The fact that my husband and I had two solid months of 2014 that weren’t devoted to wedding planning was the greatest gift of all, quite honestly. The relief that comes with not planning All the Things is indescribable.

The mother/daughter relationship in particular during wedding planning is one that goes through a special time. I won’t delve deeply on this particular topic but I will say that wedding planning can damage a relationship if it’s not a strong one. Let’s just say I am grateful that my mom and I emerged with lots of love, even if there were a few bumps along the way.

You try strange things you might never have otherwise.
As the weeks dwindled down, all kinds of thoughts entered my mind about my skincare regime. Since I no longer possess the youth of my twenties to afford me automatic dewy fresh skin on the day of my wedding, I was examining each pore, line, and freckle on my mug.  I have my usual daytime and nighttime routines but like anyone with their looks on their mind, I was paying attention to things that normally I would pass on by. Case in point: I read something about taking coffee grounds and using them as an exfoliant on one’s scalp and face. This struck me as a brilliant thing to try out.

Since we had just brewed some coffee not too much earlier in the morning, I piled some fresh coffee grounds into a bowl and placed it on the edge of the tub. I dumped a bunch of coffee grounds all over my scalp and began rubbing them in. I discovered that sure enough, they exfoliate. Boy, do they. However. The mess that coffee grounds make in the shower is shocking. They go ev-er-y-where. The entire shower from top to bottom was coated in little black flecks. Half the shower was spent chasing these little buggers down the drain and then making sure they were rinsed off my person and then I would have to start all over again with rinsing the tub.

I’m not sure I would keep this up on a regular basis since the clean-up is so time-consuming. I can say that after using a very small amount on my face, that it was extremely smooth after sloughing off the surface cells. As far as cheap scrubs go, I can’t really complain. I would probably caution against using coffee grounds in one’s hair, however, no matter what the experts say it’ll do.

In the end, I did not use coffee grounds on my face or scalp prior to the wedding. Oh and airbrush foundation and having someone do your full hair and makeup is absolutely fantastic. Oprah knows what she’s talking about when she says it’s one of the best experiences money can buy on a regular basis.

Despite the excitement, you can’t invite everyone you know, and those who fall into your Made It and Didn’t Make It lists will surprise you.
Both Kevin and I had some strong disappointments that certain folks couldn’t attend our wedding for one various reason or another. (Our wedding coincided with a TON of babies being born, for starters.) Nevertheless, we had the time of our lives, and the joy of the day dominated any lingering regrets we had about those who couldn’t be with us. One aspect of the wedding that I loved was hearing all the individual stories from people later about their personal experiences having attended. Stories would interweave with one another and I slowly put together this puzzle of what it was like to be one of our guests.

Another favorite was seeing how much fun people had and hearing it was an amazing time for them. As a person who takes pride in her hostessing, nothing makes me happier than hearing that all of the time and energy I spent on the details of this elaborate, expensive party didn’t go unnoticed, and in fact, were ultra appreciated. Never have my organizational and coordination skills served us better. Which brings me to….

Get used to “we” and “us.”
Despite having been in a relationship for years with the man I now call my husband, I’m much more conscientious of using the pronouns “we” and “us.” When I became married, I also became ultra conscientious of being one of an official couple and losing a little of the “I” in my identity. I now represent a family of two people, as does my husband. I find myself having to revert my pronouns when I get onto a “we” streak, because sometimes it doesn’t apply. It’s like, oh yeah, sometimes I’m just me.

Being super "we" and "us" makes me feel like Meg and Hamilton Swan sometimes.

Being super “we” and “us” makes me feel like Meg and Hamilton Swan sometimes.

The whole thing about wedding planning is, and it’s HARD to remember throughout, as long as you’re having fun and you are looking forward to seeing all of the details you’ve planned come to life, you will have a fantastic day. It’s been almost three months already since our day came and went, which amazes me, and I’m still processing and reliving one of the happiest times of my life.

If any of you out there are planning your own nuptials, all I can say is: savor, savor, savor.

ZK

Letting Go, Letting In

Recently, mid-week insomnia led me to my computer to write on something more personal and that which has sat in my heart and my Drafts for months. Truthfully, I have been mulling over this particular topic as a post for so long I can’t remember when it actually germinated.

I’ll start with this:

If you Google “friendship,” you come up with a ton of photos with inspirational quotes on them. Here is one such quote:

A Friend

It’s a really nice sentiment–at least I tend to favor this particular one.

Lately, I have begun to question whether I’ve ever had that kind of friendship in another person who wasn’t a significant other. I read and hear all the time about friends who are as close as siblings, who can be their total messy selves with one another, and I think, “What must that be like?”

My recent experiences with certain friendships have bestowed upon me a few layers of cynicism–several more than I care for. That cynicism rendered me unsure of what a “real” friend is supposed to be or do for someone. I began to believe that the notions I’ve held somewhere in my mind, perhaps some might call them fantasies, created a set of ideals to which no one can be upheld. As I continued to find myself healing from some wound or another, I began asking myself, “What was my part in all this?” lest I completely victimize myself and throw a pity party to which no one would want to come, not even me.

I have been fortunate to have had a handful of friendships with people whom I thought would be by my side for a lifetime. It just turns out that those lifetimes were much more quantifiable. They have all since faded from active existence in one way or another and while I’m okay with that now, it has taken me a while to grasp the lessons from each and be at peace about their current stasis.

Grieving a friendship has its own peculiar flavor for each particular person, I find.

In one instance, I lost one of the closest friends I had in the world. My heart was broken for a very long time. I dreamt about this friend and our relationship on a regular basis for years. I would cry at random intervals. My soul ached for some kind of closure. Eventually, we were able to put some things to rest after what felt like an era had passed, though the damage that had been done affected the friendship permanently. The grieving dreams have ceased but occasionally, I have a happy one and I reflect on the friendship and the person with nostalgia and tenderness.

In another, the friendship simply faded away of its own accord. We didn’t have anything in common anymore, despite being long-time childhood friends. At least from my perspective, it felt mutual. No words were ever exchanged, no acknowledgement of the end of the friendship occurred. It was a natural drift. Because that drift happened when I was in my late teens, it turned out to be easier to accept the gift of that person in my life for a specific period of time and move on.

Most recently, a friendship of mine ended on such a strange and abrupt note that I still have to remind myself of it. This person was a part of my life for close to twenty years, though the last three to four were plagued with issues that we attempted to work out. Suddenly, though, I had to shift my thinking from present tense to the past. The loss hurt primarily because I had believed we were making progress at finding our way back to the foundation of the friendship to reclaim what once was lost. Alas, the falsehood of this belief revealed itself, and I was left to make sense of the sudden rejection. What struck me most was that I did not wail or fall to pieces for this relationship that disintegrated into nothingness with a singular piece of correspondence. All of my anger, grief, and a multitude of other (caring) feelings for this person had already come and gone over the course of several years. Poof! I simply had to reconcile that the end had come without my knowing it; until she told me, that is.

There will always be a part of me who wants to go back and pick things apart, convince myself that if I can find out where things went wrong, or apologize just one more time for my role in the mess, that the friendship has a chance.

Old habits die hard.

And while I muse on these heretofore vital friends and relationships, I continually remind myself that letting go of something means I also have room to let something–or someone–in. The journey continues, and who knows whom I’ll pick up on the way?

Maybe they’re already here.

Maybe they’d like to learn a new song.

I know I would.

 

Thoughts on a Birthday

Birthday Candles

Courtesy of Cade Buchanan on Flickr–“Birthday Candles”

I don’t always do a post on or around my birthday, but this year–today–I felt compelled to.

I woke up from having one of those dreams that feels endless and like it must be taking up at least an hour of my sleep, when in reality, it was probably five or ten minutes at most. Lockers the color blue, like the ones from my high school, were present. The locker number I kept going to or trying to find had the number 30 on it. (Perhaps I wish I were only turning 30?) When I opened said locker towards what felt like the end of the dream, I found bags with scribbled notes on them in my best friend’s handwriting. Some of the notes were sad.

I kept trying to find out what time the train was going to be leaving. Sometimes I was already on the train, speeding towards someplace (Washington, DC kept running through my head) and other times, I was in a station, waiting and trying to make the connection. Anxiety was there; my old friend and as of late, a more constant companion.

I woke up begrudgingly when the alarm went off and realized I took the day off from work. I got to do what I always want to do when the alarm is going off–turn it off and go back to sleep, without a care in the world! My first gift to myself: an entire day to do whatever I want without worrying about work–or that it’s Monday. Today, Monday is meaningless to me. It’s just a day in time. It is my birthday.

Despite that gift, my internal body clock would not let me sleep past 6:45, the time when I’m usually up and downstairs, waiting for breakfast. So I sat on the couch in my zucchini-colored robe, patiently waiting, while my dearest made me a delicious hot breakfast. And not just because it’s my birthday. Just because he’s wonderful like that, as he makes a hot breakfast at least three days of the work week. Another gift, and one that could be taken for granted over time, which is why I make sure to thank him for breakfast when he makes it, because it is not something I would readily do for myself.

We had just run out of coffee by yesterday morning. I remembered that the coffee I had ordered might have arrived on Saturday and perhaps the mailman tried putting it in our tiny mailbox. Lo and behold, he had. So we were able to have our favorite fresh coffee this morning without having to run out and get something separately. Happy birthday to meee. In lieu of birthday candles, a spoon stirred the cream into my coffee.

When I was a kid, things were the name of the game. Especially if they were pink. My Little Pony, Care Bears, Barbie, Sylvanian Families, Sweet Secrets, Popples…these all inhabited my existence. I screamed the house down the day I received a Funshine Care Bear. I don’t remember the last time I screamed upon opening a present.

sweet secrets collection

A bevy of Sweet Secrets

Now, I squeal inwardly when I receive a book on spirituality that I’ve been wanting to read, or a gift certificate to Sephora, my favorite mecca of beauty products.

As a child, I fretted over who might not show up to my birthday party and being so happy when people came. (“You really like me!”) I remember ripping through the wrapping paper of all the presents, feeling impatient to get to the next THING, while my mother chided me to slow down, show my guests what I had received, and loudly chant, “THANK YOU!”

Today, I take more time to appreciate the real cards sent in the mail and the handwritten sentiments inside. I sit and actively cherish the people in my life who remind me I matter to them, that I am valued, that I bring something special to the table. I struggle with my self-worth, so the best thing I can bestow upon myself is kindness; letting myself feel truly loved; seeing that I have qualities which are considered wonderful to others; allowing the sentiments to settle in my soul without naysaying, ridiculing, or devaluing those statements with self-derision. I channel my inner Stuart Smalley.

smalley

I sit here basking in the knowledge that I have hours ahead of me to do whatever I want. Whatever I want. I’m almost paralyzed with this notion. What do I do first? (I’ll tell you, my first desire wasn’t to get all dolled up like the ladies of Golden Girls did. Even lounging, they were always dressed to the nines.)

The sun is shining. It’s a beautiful day. A lawn mower chugs in the distance, a sound that has always soothed me. I have a lunch date with a dear friend. My phone chimes occasionally with birthday texts.

It is otherwise quiet.

I feel loved.

I am thirty-four.

 

 

 

The Best Blog Post You’ll Ever Read. Period.

I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of hyperbolic headlines. They plague even the most banal of stories these days.

I can’t scroll through nary a social media feed without reading grabbers similar to these (totally made up by me):

“This puppy walked by a church….and what this grandmother did next will blow your mind.”
“The Ten Most Amazing Habits You Should Always Do for the Rest of Your Life.”
“Five Post-It Note Colors You MUST Have in Your Office Drawer at Work RIGHT NOW.”

I wish I were exaggerating but here is a screen shot pulled from today’s headlines from one of the worst offenders:

upworthy-zoesays

Really? Things I should “NEVER, EVER” say to a teacher? There are “NO” jobs? You want to applaud “for days?”

Words like “always,” “never,” “only, “best,” worst,” and loads of other superlatives pepper hundreds of thousands of posts each and every day, all screaming for clicks and attention. At first, it was kind of novel. The too long headlines, reminiscent of people who write an entire email in the subject line, appeared quirky and stood out.

Then everyone in the free world caught on and instead of being funny or inviting me to click on the article, the tactic simply makes me hate reading anything on the internet. And that sucks, because I love reading, and I enjoy scanning headlines to see what’s actually going on in the world. Don’t make me want to quit you, interwebs. (Which we all know I can’t.)

Look, we all have to make a living, but the creation of these sensationalized headlines for mundane everyday occurrences has become telemarketing for our eyeballs. Can we leave yellow journalism where it belongs–a hundred years in the past?

There is a glimmer of hope. The folks at Google have begun working on this issue; a programmer has created a plugin for Chrome called Downworthy, which takes hyperbolic headlines and translates them into more realistic language.

Examples include “Will Blow Your Mind” converting to “Might Perhaps Mildly Entertain You For a Moment”, “Can’t Even Handle” becoming “Can Totally Handle Without Any Significant Issue”, “Literally” becoming “Figuratively” and “Right Now” becoming “Eventually”.

I can’t say I won’t be downloading that plugin. It’s one creative solution to this pervasive problem, short of authors (“authors”) actually coming up with headlines that are relevant and non-irritating. (You can read more about the plugin on CNET.)

On the other hand, if you’re not completely sick of clickbait, you can take part in this guy’s competition to create the best, most hyperbolic headline: see markpollard.net.

Since I am one of the ones who is completely worn out by the boy-who-cried-wolf compulsive-liar syndrome that is passing for journalism, my plea is simply….STOP IT!

Sitting Down in the Gown

Aurora in White

Didn’t we all want to see Sleeping Beauty’s wedding dress? I did.

Last week, I traversed the plains of Illinois and arrived at the threshold (or “Gateway”) of the west in my fair hometown of St. Louis to shop for a wedding dress.

Due to some circumstances not under my control, I was not able to choose to have my wedding in St. Louis, so the next best thing was being able to dress shop there in order to have my little piece of the Lou with me on my special day.

I wasn’t sure how indecisive I was going to be throughout this process. I had given myself only one long weekend in the middle of one of the coldest winters in twenty years to find my dress. I had done some research with magazines, of course, and Pinterest, and The Knot, and speaking with friends who are also planning weddings. But I hadn’t gone anywhere in person yet and had no idea if I was going to have a Say Yes to the Dress bridezilla meltdown or whether it would be whimsical and practically effortless.

Let me just put this out there right now: the women who go on TV shows to try on bridal gowns are brave! As giddy as I was to go to a few shops and try on dresses, I would have felt twenty times more anxious if I knew my experience were being filmed and eventually televised. Props to you, Regular Ladies of America who appear on TLC.

I had lined up three appointments for the long weekend and given myself enough time to go to a shop on impulse, should the need arise if I wasn’t finding anything.

As fortune would have it, I only had to go to two shops and try on six dresses before I found The One. (I was told later that this was very Zoe-efficient of me.)

Prior to my second day of shopping, I was given some solid advice by the daughter of a close family friend. She told me to try on serious contenders twice. I kept that little nugget stored away until the time came for me to make a decision. It came in handy, since I ended up loving my dress but came back later to try it on a second time before going forward with my purchase.

For anyone who will be dress shopping in the near future, here is some insight I thought I could share on this whole process that may help you out:

  1. Customer service at bridal boutiques is key and will make or break the shopping experience. While there are plenty of do-it-yourself places out there (and are more budget friendly, certainly), if you are able to afford going to a place with reputable customer service, I highly recommend doing so. I gave both shops I tried positive reviews on Yelp, even though I only ended up buying from one place.
  2. Bring or wear a bra that will look good in low cut and/or strapless gowns. Even if a gown has sleeves, it’s probably going to be sheer up top, and bra straps can take away some of the illusion you’re trying to create.
  3. Unless it’s summertime and unbearably hot, pantyhose isn’t a bad idea. It helps slide you into dresses more easily. This was one thing I wish I had done, though I was shopping in the middle of winter, so it wasn’t a nightmare.
  4. Dresses get HOT once you put them on. The sheer tonnage of material and being under hot lights gets you warm really quickly. To prepare, use a little of this ingenious powder gel on yourself. For those who aren’t aware, that powder gel also contains the same active ingredient as the fancy foundation primer out there, so you can use it on your face if ya want!
  5. Dresses you don’t like hanging up might look stunning on, so keep an open mind. Such was the case with the one I eventually chose. I saw it hanging up and pooh-poohed it. Then I got it on and was in awe.
  6. If you’re absolutely unsure if you like a dress after you’ve been wearing it a while, you probably don’t. And pay attention to details that bother you, e.g. a corset back vs. a zipper vs. buttons. They can be surprising dealbreakers.
  7. Accessories can make all the difference in the world.
  8. Be prepared to have your consultant see a lot of you (definitely shave and get yourself all tidy). If she’s doing her job well, you will feel relatively comfortable throughout, despite someone you never met getting all up in your business.
  9. Take lots of pictures from different angles in case you can’t decide right away. Thank goodness for cell phone cameras.
  10. Sit down in the gown before you say yes to the dress! This was one of the key things one of my relatives made me do before going forward with my purchase. She wanted to be sure I would feel comfortable sitting and moving around in it. After all, I’m going to be in this thing for twelve hours or so. Sitting proved to be fine, though I won’t be able to slouch at all. I’ll have lovely posture on the big day.
  11. Pace yourself and have fun!

Realizing how fun–and to some extent comfortable–it was to wear the gown made me laugh. I don’t wear fancy stuff on a regular basis, so I felt like the gals on Friends when they wore the wedding gowns because it made them feel good. I totally get it now! It’s hard to go back to jeans and sweaters once you’ve had a wedding dress on.

And aren’t they totally rocking sitting down in those gowns?

friends