new Lipstick

Hi readers,

I’m switching over to a new Lipstick on Paper format on blogspot:

http://lipstickonpaper.blogspot.com/

Follow me on my new website – it’s a new look and a new focus in the same lovely voice.  Thank you for supporting my writing! XOXO.

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the One

Picking a wedding dress sounds an awful like searching for a significant other.

You have a list of expectations (some more realistic than others), the most important people in your life will want to approve , there’s emotion involved – maybe crying and drama, you find more frogs than princes, there’s commitment (an emotional and financial one, in this case).  And there’s the romanticized notion, one you can’t possibly describe, where you just know it’s THE ONE.

I admit.  I was skeptical.

Hours later, after being overwhelmed with too many choices, too many sequins, too many shades of white, off-white, cream, & ivory (what’s the difference again?), I began to re-evaluate my list of prerequisites again.  What I envisioned would be right for me, in fact, was not.  Poof made me look like a puff, baby doll made me look like I was having a baby, and ruching in certain places was just not flattering.  Others were pretty and even lovely, but it just didn’t feel… like THE ONE.  Whatever that meant.

My friends and family asked anxiously with each one I tried on “Do you like it?  Do you like it?”

I squinted in the mirror and examined myself from all angles.  “I guess.  It’s pretty.”  No fireworks.  No chemistry.  I wasn’t sure what to expect, but it didn’t measure up to what I saw on ‘Say Yes to the Dress’ on TLC or in the movies.  Was it just a silly fantasy?  Was this “feeling” even real?

After 7 tries, and another bridal appointment I was NOT looking forward to, I was just about to throw in the towel.  I was cynical about true love (bridal gown love, anyway).  It couldn’t really exist.  Just another evil wedding industry ploy to get brides to feel stressed out over unrealistic perfectionism.

Sensing my frustration, my consultant then said, “I’m going to just throw in a curveball.  It’s not what you and everyone else may have wanted, but I think it might work.  Let’s see what you think.”

She helped me into it.  And when I saw how the dress clung to me, made me feel beautiful, I was in shock.  She was right, it was not at all what I had been expecting.  Yet, it was exactly what I wanted.  I threw my list out the window at that instant and focused only on what was right in front of me.

Sure enough, I think I found “The One.”

Funny how you find it when you least expect it.  C’est la vie.

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better or worse

What is the purpose of a wedding anyway?

As a girl, I envisioned the fanciness, the awe-inspiring grandeur as the movies make it out to be.  More so… when I thought of my wedding, it was really about the PEOPLE you love and the HAPPINESS that came along with it.  I saw the wedding as a ridiculously overpriced party with tons of food, smiling, laughing, dancing, a gorgeous dress, a fabulous husband, and a large crowd of supportive friends and family.  At 26 years old, engaged, and about to be married, I still want those things.  Yet, I didn’t see myself struggling so hard to get there.

Now that this “Big Day” is approaching for me, I’m left with several conflicting feelings of dread, stress, disappointment, nostalgia, and during rare moments, excitement.  It feels like a lonely place to be because I don’t seem to find my issues reflected in the glossy wedding magazines, colorful Knot website, or dream wedding shows.  When people ask me “How’s wedding planning?”, I feel like a freak for not being more giddy in my response.  Sometimes I completely fake it.  The only place of solace are through conversations with other real-life brides.  It’s like meeting another wounded soldier who survived the same battle that I’m about to face.  An instant connection is formed – one based on encouragement & empathy.

The biggest shock for me in getting engaged and beginning the wedding planning was how it drastically changed (or perhaps unveiled?) the relationships in my life.  It forced me to evaluate who were the most important people in my life.  Who to include in this whole planning process.  Who will truly be by my side for such a significant occasion in my life?  Who will truly support me in my decisions?  Who will be consistent?  For better or for worse isn’t just for your life partner; it applies just as much to your other loved ones.  It was a test of some sorts for many of my relationships – both friendships and family.

For the sake of some confidentiality, I won’t list names, but I will say with great disappointment that some of those relationships failed me.  There was a great deal of emotional conflict that arose in the first month of my engagement – family loyalty, selfishness, old history, lost friendships, etc.  In hindsight, I believe that a majority of those issues arose because other people had selfishly harbored issues of their own and decided to use the engagement as a catalyst to bring those issues to the surface.  Funny enough, life was just fine prior to when J asked the question.  So, was it REALLY about me?  Or was it about them?  Sadly enough, no one ever warns you that a wedding could potentially be destructive to your relationships… or to your mental health for that matter.

In the past few months, J & I had some major talks and decisions to make.  How much of our own happiness are we willing to sacrifice for the sake of others’ happiness?  And how much of it is ours to claim?  We’ve realized, with much disappointment and sadness, that it will not be given to us easily.  As much as these people say they care and love us, they love themselves – be it their pride, ego, or traditions – more.

Honestly, I’m pretty tired of walking on eggshells around others’ feelings, especially for an event that’s intended to be mine & J’s.  Compromising is one thing, but losing perspective is another.  I know the difference between support and selfishness, and as much as I hate to say this about people whom I love – it’s downright selfish.

If happiness is our goal, then I’m determined to make sure that’s what J & I deserve and demand.  For better or for worse.

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sleep

I’ve been having trouble sleeping lately.

At first I thought it was because I’ve been sick for the past couple of weeks – it’s tough to sleep with a coughing fit.

Next, I diagnosed that it must be my coffee intake.  After all, introducing caffeine into your body after a long hiatus is sure to send it into shock.

Hmm… maybe it’s my late night workouts.  It probably takes some time for my adrenaline to slow down after an intense work out.

J has to literally tear me away from my computer during these restless nights, only to have me toss and turn wide awake.  Anyone who knows me would find this behavior unusual – I typically sleep fast and soundly in an instant.  When J, who is himself an insomniac on occasion, can find sleep more than I can – something is off.

I began to realize that taking Nyquil was only a quick fix.

Last night, I jumped into bed and just stared at the ceiling.

“I think you’re right.”  I said.  That got J’s attention.  He put his book down, and asked, “About what?”

“I’m overwhelmed.”  Still looking at the ceiling.  Not angry, not upset, not in a fit or crisis.  I was simply, calmly acknowledging a very obvious fact.  Obvious to everyone but myself, until that very moment.

“Well,” J started, as he turned to face me, “You’ve been working non-stop all month.  Of course, you’re overwhelmed.”

I tried to mentally list all of the possible culprits for my anxiety.  I’ve been dedicating time to Stella & Dot, my new side business and learning all of the strategies to successfully book and execute trunk shows.  In just my first month of signing up as a Stylist, I had done 4 trunk show events, including my initial launch party!  Wedding planning is just gearing up, with the continuous hunt for a wedding venue and the seemingly never-ending task of gaining my family’s approval.  There are days when I wince at the thought of devoting an entire year just to planning it, with the current stress already forming & the anticipation of more stress.  Job searching is still on the periphery of my mind, especially with lay-offs occurring in the next month or so.  With all of those things, financial security is a big factor in my worries.  And somewhere crammed in the rest of my head are the obligations and expectations to multiple roles in my life: being a good fiance, sister, friend, employee, daughter, etc. etc.

Ugh.  No wonder I’m a mess.

Just from voicing it aloud to myself and to my wonderfully supportive fiance, I decided that the bulk of these issues were not going to be resolved that evening.  If I’m going to have a busy year, I can’t burn out this early in the game.  Something needs to change.  I need to change my game plan.

At that moment, what I decided I needed more than anything else, was a chance to just rest from all of the chaos and noise in my life.

So I made a conscious effort to hit “pause” for the evening, and I finally went to sleep.

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2010: the leap of faith year

The year of unknowns… and opportunity.

2009 was such an eventful year, I wasn’t sure how 2010 would top it.  In fact, 2010 is filled with questions and uncertainty.  I’m anxious about a number of things – two of which include my job security in this rapidly changing economy (education is undergoing massive budget cuts) and planning my upcoming wedding (I no longer have the luxury of believing that my wedding is a couple of years away; as of today, it’s officially “next year”).

While I may not have control over outside events, such as how much family drama I’ll experience during the midst of wedding planning, or whether I’ll get laid off in the next month or so, I do have control how I choose to respond.  And what actions to take.

This year is a toast to taking what is unpredictable and turning into an exhilarating adventure.  That’s what life is anyway, a day to day of unknowns and what we choose to make of it.

Two key opportunities & events arise from 2010.  The first is the monumental task of planning my wedding, a year long process to plan a one day event – entirely dedicated to a lifetime with my partner.  Whew.  Talk about pressure! As predictable as some aspects of a wedding are – such as a dress, bridal party, venue, food, cake, & other event logistics, I’m wary to believe that the process will be as simple as it sounds.  Given the dramatic events that unfolded from merely getting engaged, who can possibly predict what craziness will ensue as I dive deeper into the actual wedding?  Stay tuned, my friends.  It’s going to be a wild ride.

The next opportunity, that’s timely in this economy: starting up a small business.  J & I have been in many conversations lately about one day starting up a small business of our own.  We tried the t-shirt business once, while in grad school.  And life just happened, work, friends, moving back to the Bay Area, etc. We got too busy to sustain it.  And even with all of our readings on boosting financial education, Rich Dad, Poor Dad, and such, it was still difficult to figure out where to get started.

Long story short: Upon attending my first jewelry trunk show at a friend’s place, I was introduced to Stella & Dot boutique jewelry.  After few restless nights reading through the opportunity brochure, posing a million questions to the Stylist Sandy, conducting exhaustive research on the company, and getting the support from my lovely friends, family, and fiance – I took the leap and signed up to be the Stylist of my own company.  I’ve been keeping a journal logging my first 100 days as a Stella & Dot stylists and I hope to share my tidbits of entrepreneurial wisdom in this site.

Here’s to 2010: the year of opportunity, unknowns, the leap of faith.  A year dedicated entirely to “Business & the Bride.”

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south for the winter

I’m heading to Austin, Texas this weekend with J!  After a fun trip to New York City last year around the same time,  I thought- Wouldn’t it be fun to travel to another city during the Christmas season?

Rather than trying to brave the elements in the East Coast, I’m ready for some Southern BBQ, bizarreness, and dive bar bands.  I’ll be back with an entry full of photos of my travels and foodie places.

For more Lipstick, in the meantime, check out my latest writing pieces on eHow:

How To Travel Like a Local

How to Make Small Talk more Naturally

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novel turned short story

Today marks the official end of NanoWriMo – my crazy Novel Writing Challenge.

My final word count: 11,051 (which equates to roughly 21 pages).

I didn’t make the 50,000 word finish line, but I have enough material to make a nice short story.  I do feel satisfied and proud of my little victory.  Either way, I’m glad I chose to participate.  As I’m repeatedly finding, it’s the process and journey that proves more valuable than the intended destination.

Some lessons learned along the way:

-Writing seriously requires more commitment than inspiration. It’s easy to write when I’m motivated.  I can sit in a cafe for hours on a given weekend with the right dose of energy.  On the flip side, it was tough to force myself to write during the days that I came home from work physically tired and mentally drained.  Those were the days where I fell the most behind.  And the tiring days happened more frequently than the motivating days.

-It’s cathartic to write from experience, but it’s also painful. I chose to write a mother/daughter story to help me understand the tumultuous relationship with my mother.  While it gave me good material, it also was an emotional struggle.  No wonder writers are such tortured souls.  Maybe my next work should be in science fiction.

-Being a writer is lonely. No one high fives you when you write a clever line or an insightful bit of dialogue.  Thus, another reason to stay committed even when you’re not sure of yourself.  Or find support in a writing group.  I never made it out to a NanoWriMo “write-in” to bond with fellow novelists; that’s definitely top on my list for next time.

-It’s okay to write horribly, so long as you write. The largest nugget of wisdom gleaned in this entire process!  I made plenty of mistakes – created characters I didn’t know what to do with, made them say things that made no sense, and grew bored of my protagonist’s self-deprication.  Whatever.  I made the mistakes, owned it, learned from it, and moved on.

The short story of this long entry: Will I do this challenge again, as painful and messy as it was?

Most definitely.

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