After the Wedding: lessons from a little red vespa

This past weekend we had the most perfect weather for a winter day in Seattle.  The sun was shining bright, and there was not a cloud in the clear blue sky.  It felt like spring had arrived  a few months early, and so we decided the best way to cap off a long week was to take our red Vespa out for its first spin of the year.

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While Jamie zipped around our Queen Anne neighborhood, leading the adventure, I closed my eyes and welcomed the cool wind on my face.  These rides are good for my soul. They quickly clear my mind, fill my heart with peace, and I find myself lost in the moment, dreaming about our future and feeling inspired again.  Although getting a moped was 100% Jamie’s idea, this recreational toy is probably the best gift I’ve ever surprised her with.  It’s been a source of joy, laughter and adventure in addition to teaching me a few lessons about marriage.

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1. Listen for the things that your partner dreams about, their wishes, and the desires of their heart, and then look for opportunities to make those things happen

When we moved to Seattle last spring, Jamie casually mentioned how fun it would be to have a Vespa.  Initially I chalked this up to just a day dream,  but then I quickly realized how serious she was.  It’s not that she continuously talked about it… I just saw her head turning every time a moped passed us.  I often found her looking at Craig’s List to see if they had any Vespas listed. The thought of scooting around town on a moped made her light up and come alive, and I couldn’t ignore it. I knew I needed to make it happen.

I’ve come to learn that if I listen carefully and if I am attentive to the little things, I will know my wife’s heart without her needing to spell it our for me.  It brings me joy and shows her love when I can then  find tangible ways to let her know I’ve listened to her heart and I’ve heard her dreams.

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2. Don’t be selfish

I had been saving  some money to buy a new piece of furniture I really wanted.  I love buying furniture for our home.  It gives me a rush. Although Jamie loves having a beautiful home, she doesn’t get giddy with furniture purchases like I do.  I think her joy in those moments comes from seeing how excited I get with each new piece for our home.  Once, when Jamie was trying to relate to the kind of rush I get, she speculated that owning a Vespa would probably be the type of thing that would give her the equivalent sort of rush.  I knew instantly that it was Jamie’s turn to feel a rush, and I needed to put aside my own plans and wants and use my furniture fund on this Vespa.  Any other decision would have been selfish.

It’s easy to focus on your own needs, wants and desires, but true love is selfless and makes an intentional effort to choose to put your partner first.

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3. Take turns leading and teaching each other.

I am always the passenger on our Vespa. Always. We often get looks of shock, smiles and comments when we pull up somewhere by people that are surprised that I “let” Jamie drive.  A few people have even gone as far to comment about how brave and trusting I am.  Our culture says that Jamie should be the passenger and I should be driving. (This is where I could go on my rant about traditional gender roles, and how they irritate me, but I’ll save that for another day)

Our vespa provided an opportunity for Jamie to be in control and to take charge using her natural strengths and gifts. Jamie is a better driver, bigger adventurer and greater risk taker than I am.  Her strengths are different than mine and it only makes sense that we take turns being the leader.

I love it when Jamie leads and I take a back seat to her.  When Jamie leads (on and off the Vespa) I have the opportunity to see the world around me.  It gives me a chance to take a break, see the world from her perspective and learn from her.  It also gives her the opportunity to further develop her natural strengths.

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4. Participate in activities that your partner loves, even when they are outside of your comfort zone.  

I’m not the adventurous one in our relationship.  I like doing things that are safe and comfortable, usually within the confines of our home, a really good restaurant or Nordstroms.   Jamie loves experiencing life, trying new things, exploring and just being adventurous.  I am often inwardly reluctant when Jamie brings up a new idea to try; Kayaking… flying on a trapeze, swimming… ice skating… bowling… moped riding…  all of these things initially sounded like horrible ideas to me, but somehow in the end I am (almost) always surprised at how much fun I had.  Every new activity pushes me to new limits, and teaches me I am capable of more things than I thought.

More importantly, doing the things that are of interest to Jamie communicates  to her, that her ideas and dreams are important to me. It also teaches me more about who Jamie is, how she is wired and about the things she loves.  The best part is I get to see her come alive in new ways.  I love every opportunity that allows me to discover more of who she is.

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5. Splurge

The Vespa was a bit of a financial stretch, and I debated if I was being foolish with our money.  I used the money I had personally set aside, but then I also had to dip into a bit of our savings to make it happen.  I decided this purchase was an investment into our marriage, and worth every penny.  I made the decision to move forward, and I’ve never regretted it.

I know this goes against all the books out there that advise you to save your money, be frugal and make conservative spending decisions, but I say splurge!  Devote some of your finances to being generous to your partner.   Craft  surprises and create experiences: Buy those concert tickets… plan that weekend excursion… eat dinner at that expensive restaurant.  It’s worth it.  Obviously be wise in how much or how often you do this, but I think some of my best investments in life have been financial splurges that have created lifelong memories.

Find ways to bless your spouse with something extraordinary.

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6. Have a bit of  fun

I might be the one on the back of the Vespa occasionally saying things like “slow down!” or  “We’re going too fast!”  and “This isn’t safe!”  But really… we have so much fun zipping around town laughing together.  The first time we ventured out of our neighborhood and crossed a bridge to another part of Seattle, we both erupted with so much laughter that I thought we might fall off the bike!  I think we felt like the whole world had just opened up to us, and it was so much fun.

In my opinion, simply having fun, laughing together and just being silly are some of the most important parts of marriage.  It helps you avoid taking life (or yourself) too seriously. It keeps you from being weighed down by the stress of life and the worries of your day.  It makes you feel like you are still kids, and it keeps your relationship fresh.  Some of my favorite moments in life have just been laughing with Jamie.

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I hope when we are gray haired and old that Jamie will still be zipping us around town on our little red Vespa.  I also hope I never forget these lessons and that our marriage continues to strengthen as I put them into practice.

And… these photos were taken last summer by Matthew Land Studios ; we were a bit more layered and bundled up this past weekend for our January ride.  We know some of you will be wondering.

For the Love of Dessert

Over the weekend, Steve and I attended a friends’ Thanksgiving dinner party. As we were enjoying dessert, the party hostess reminded me of the time in college when we ate an entire pumpkin pie together in one sitting. We cut a line down the middle and polished off the entire thing straight out of the pan.

As she and I laughed about the memory, Steve didn’t even raise an eyebrow. He assessed the pumpkin pie that was sitting on the table and responded with, “half a pie really isn’t that much.” Clearly he and I are well-matched in our love for dessert.

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Before we met in person, Steve gave just one request when coming to visit me in New York City for the first time.

“My one demand is that I get some really really amazing dessert. After each meal. Every meal. I have the biggest sweet tooth and could survive on dessert alone. I’m not even joking.”

In getting to know him better, he sure was a man of his word from the start. This guy loves his dessert.

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As our relationship has grown, dessert has always been a big part of it. When we were engaged and Steve worked long and late hours prepping for weddings, I’d bring over some dessert and help clean up the studio to say I care about you. For his birthday month, I welcome October with a ‘Stevetober’ pie to say I celebrate you. And when we have had disagreements in the past, dessert made appearances as a peace offering to say I’m sorry.

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But most often, our dessert time is what we most look forward to after a long day. While we may not end every meal with dessert as Steve first requested, we typically do end our days sharing some kind of treat that says I love you.

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Check back later this week for the recipe for my fresh pumpkin- pumpkin pie.


Photo credit: Matthew Land Studios

After the Wedding: a lesson from the rain

Halfway through wedding season I received a text from my friend Ashley, asking me if I had any décor ideas for the surprise 40th anniversary party she was throwing for her parents. Now, when friends ask me for anything during wedding season (other than what time they can come and help me) I often times cringe because I just don’t have much extra time.  But this request was very different.  I quickly texted back and offered to handle all of the décor for this party as my gift to her parents.

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Ashley’s parents, Lynne and Gerald Baron, are the owners of Carriage Hill Farm where my design studio is located.  10 years ago I had the opportunity to work with this family on Ashley’s wedding, and since then they have had such a huge impact and influence on my life and business.  It was an honor to give back to them, and make their celebration beautiful.

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The celebration was held at Carriage Hill Farm.  It was the middle of August, and we expected a beautiful sunny day. But the day came, and the dark clouds and threats of rain felt more like Autumn.  I wanted to move the party inside to be safe, but Ashley wanted to stick with our original plan and have it outside.  She was hopeful the rain would hold out.

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It didn’t.  The rain started and it was more than a sprinkle.  I  ran outside to start the process of moving the party inside, but the family insisted on keeping the dinner as planned.  They weren’t bothered by the rain and they were optimistic that it would quickly pass.  Despite the clouds and the falling rain, they were filled with so much joy.

I walked away that day with an unexpected lesson in marriage, as I realized I had just seen first hand why Lynne and Gerald had made it through 40 years.

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In marriage, things don’t often go as planned.  Not every day is bright and sunny.  The rain comes- even when you think it is going to be a beautiful day. You get a little wet, and things don’t look as perfect and beautiful. But… that doesn’t mean you pack things up and call it quits.  You stay strong and weather the storm with optimism, having faith that it will pass.

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And you wait for the storm to pass…because it does.   And when it does there is beautiful celebrating that happens.

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I have many reasons to be grateful to Lynne and Gerald- one of which is for being a great example to Jamie and I of what a healthy marriage looks like.  I hope Jamie and I weather the storms of life and come out the other side with the same optimism, joy and love that the both of them have.

Happy 40th anniversary!

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You can see more images from this family celebration (and get some great recipes) on Ashley’s award winning blog, Not Without Salt 

All of these images were taken by Ashley’s talented husband Gabe Rodriguez of  Gabrielle Boone Photography 

Stationery was designed by Brittany of Spruce Stationery and Design 

Design, flowers, tables, props, soft seating are from our company,  Sinclair and Moore