wedding planning

While I tend to overshare every aspect of my life, I’ve pointedly kept the majority of wedding plans on the quiet side. It’s not easy, but I have this fear that if I tell everyone all the details in advance they won’t be as thrilled and amazed at the big day as I envision in my daydreams. But then I realized that if I don’t document this all, I’ll seriously regret it at some point. And regret sucks. So…I’ll start with the engagement details.

We got engaged on Friday, July 9 at a picnic on Squaw Peak. When Jim and I first started dating three and a half years ago, we made a list of 100 things we wanted to do together. While we’d hashed away most of the big ticket items (go to Washington, D.C., travel to a foreign country together, make each other breakfast in bed) and most of the entirely random ones (feeding ducks, baking a pie from scratch, going to Costco for hotdogs as a lunch date)…we’d neglected #55; to picnic on Squaw Peak. I can’t recall with total accuracy, but I’m pretty sure this item made the list because of how often we hiked together during our early days, or courtship, as Jim likes to call it.

I had started a new job the week this happened, and was such an exhausted ball of stress I was certainly not expecting to receive a proposal. I was looking forward to spending the weekend at the Biltmore Hotel, my birthday gift from Jim.

You see on my real birthday I’d had the bright idea of running a half marathon in San Diego. Fun, but not the best way to celebrate a birthday. So, as my gift, Jim had booked this staycation.

When I got home from work we set out to go to dinner, but I soon realized we were driving up a mountain. I’m pretty pathetic with directions, but I was fairly confident there was no restaurant out there. But maybe I was wrong. I kept quiet.

Turns out Jim had put together a picnic for us, complete with my favorite sandwiches, chocolates and wine.

The tough part was it was July in Phoenix. And really hot.

After I finished eating and had no idea Jim was proposing, I said I was hot and asked if we could leave and go to the hotel. Jim seemed to want to stay (apparently the heat wasn’t affecting him). Still clueless, I kept pestering him to leave. Why do girls do this to themselves!?

The cycle continued, and finally, my tantrum got the best of him and we turned to head back to the car. As I sat down I turned around to see Jim on one knee with the ring.

SHOCK.

What a moment. Completely surreal. Sure I’d envisioned it daily for several years, but when it actually happens it’s a whole different ballgame.

It was amazing.

We left and headed to the Biltmore. I was unaware of the next set of surprises.

When we got to our room (glowing) I opened the door to see our closest friends gathered together in a decorated suite. I was now in double shock. A surprise engagement party. Or so I thought.

Turns out he’d planned the whole thing under the premise that it was a surprise birthday party. None of our friends knew he was proposing until we got there. In essence, it was a double surprise party.

We celebrated all weekend and I’m so glad we had the chance to spend the time together with so many great people. I’ll never forget the weekend or how amazing it felt.

That’s probably more than enough cheeseball-ness for now so I’ll cut myself off. But don’t worry, there will be more to come now that I’ve broken the seal.

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a kinder, gentler learning curve

Today was one of the most stressful days I’ve ever had at a job. Yet it was a remarkably positive experience and reiterated the poignant lesson of not taking yourself too seriously.

I’ll avoid the lengthy details of what actually happened, but to make a long story bearable, I’ll just say that lots of new responsibilities unexpectedly fell onto my shoulders.

As the emails started flying in, I felt the tell-tale rise in blood pressure and nervous finger tapping commence. I’d been down this type of road before, and it doesn’t always go well. But – I soon realized I had a few things on my side.

To begin, my leadership completely understood and communicated that this was well beyond my job description and and daily routine. To me – this was a huge acknowledgment. The folks above me knew I wasn’t trained on what I needed to do, nor had I ever done it before. They also knew my actions were going to be visible to tens of thousands of employees. Instead of pressuring me or intimidating me further with these facts, I was told that ‘this was going to be crazy, but we’ll get through it together and learn from it’. I was encouraged to ask questions and seek out help from people at all levels.

What also helped alleviate this situation was the fact that I had lots of folks standing behind me. I had multiple offers for help and coverage and even had someone bring me frozen yogurt (yes, really). This type of confidence and support was exactly what I needed to perform effectively.

Let’s be honest. It’s not like I’ve been beaten or screamed at in previous positions, but there have definitely been times (that I can still visualize) where I know that feeling more supported and less terrified would’ve really helped me succeed. Sometimes a tough manager is the best way to grow, but at the end of the day, I learn a lot more when I’m being fostered than when I’m bullied or scolded.

All details aside, I think that what helped resolve the situation so successfully was the fact that no one freaked out. No one raised their voice. No one panicked. Hence, the not taking yourself too seriously. We all work hard and face pressures on the job, but at the end of the day, it’s important to put it all in perspective.

Could this type of situation have been prevented with different planning? Maybe. But ultimately, it ended up a total success. And because of how it was handled, I feel very prepared for the next time it happens.

Which is hopefully not for a very long time.

Things to do when it’s 112 degrees:

Make soup and do all your ironing for the past three months.

For some reason I got a craving for potato soup today, despite the choking temperature. I found a recipe online that satisfied my preference (chunky) and Jim’s (creamy). Look how much you’re learning about us in just a few sentences.

The recipe comes from allrecipes.com – here it is, with my improvisations noted:

Ingredients

  • 3 bacon strips, diced (I used turkey bacon. Jim found out and revolted)
  • 1 small onion, chopped (I used shallots)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil (Whoops forgot this)
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 2 large baked potatoes, peeled and cubed (Baking? In this weather? I boiled ‘em)
  • 1 cup half-and-half cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce (After an extensive analysis of what this meant, I gave up and nixed it. Tabasco scares me)
  • Shredded Cheddar cheese
  • Minced fresh parsley (Yeah, forgot this too)

Directions

  1. In a large saucepan, cook bacon until crisp. Drain, reserving 1 tablespoon drippings. Set bacon aside. Saute onion and garlic in the drippings until tender. Stir in flour, salt, basil and pepper; mix well. Gradually add broth. Bring to boil; boil and stir for 2 minutes. Add the potatoes, cream and hot pepper sauce; heat through but do not boil. Garnish with bacon, cheese and parsley. (I just threw in all the cheese and bacon at once. No patience).
Clearly I don’t follow recipes well but this came out fantastic.

my break up with the news

This post may not seem especially relevant to a lot of folks, but to those who can appreciate it, this is for you.

I’ve worked in communications and public relations for a number of years. My areas of alleged expertise have ranged from flash floods to underage drinking to copper mining and kitty litter. Through it all, I’ve had the tumultuous pleasure of working with the news media. I’ve been subjected to on-camera interviews, quoted in a load of publications and done my fair share of radio commentary. I’ve even been quoted talking about dog poop (if you’re curious, I’ll show you).

I must admit that although this line of work once seemed glamorous, the rose colored glasses came off the first time a reporter called me honey and asked for a cup of coffee at a 4 a.m. shoot.

My experiences in this arena taught me a ton. I learned a lot of lessons (mostly the hard way) and really learned the meaning of not saying anything at all if I had nothing nice to say.

As a survival tactic, I made a personal decision to give up watching local news last year. Too mind numbing. We officially broke up in late 2009 and things have been touchy ever since. I occasionally flirt with the Today Show but it’s nothing serious.

But…my reason for reflecting on this is that I recently started a job where my focus has switched to internal communication as opposed to external. That’s right. I talk to employees, no more media.

It was a dramatic switch to no longer be on-call 24 hours a day, but so far I feel I’m adjusting quite well. Part of me misses the drama and the laughs, but for now, I’m relishing my reprieve. I also have the pleasure of sitting next to our external affairs department. Any time I feel too forlorn I can listen to one of their calls and be shocked back to sanity.

I wouldn’t trade the experiences I’ve had for anything, and am pretty darn grateful for the knowledge. But just when I feel myself getting nostalgic, I see headlines like the ones below that remind it’s good to have some distance…

2 women charged in kindergarten graduation brawl

Really?