Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Mini Photo Essay

Friday evening, my girl Ester invited me to join her for a cousin's wedding on Sunday. It promised to be a fun min-road trip, some girl time, and we'd get to experience something neither of us ever had - a pagan wedding. In short, it was beautiful, my time with Ester was amazing, and I wish we had the opportunity to spend more time together. <3

Set in Priest Park Rose Garden, in Olympia, WA - we were awed by the beauty surrounding us, and the sun shone down on us the entire time.

A little candid shot I took while we were chatting with some of the guests. Ester's just squinting in the sun, I think this was one of 3 seconds when she wasn't smiling that day :)

It was a fairly intimate wedding, maybe about 40 people or so there, and it felt very nice to not just be a face in a crowd.

It was a beautiful ceremony, complete with a handfasting ceremony, which to that point I'd only read about. They did things a little differently than most handfastings I've read about, where they used already prepared ropes for the binding, rather than going around to the guests and having THEM bind them. With the girl in fairy wings throwing rose petals, the guests blessing the wedding rings and the ceremonial binding, it was unusual for me, and beautiful to watch.

On our way home, we stopped and stretched our legs a bit at the Centralia Outlet Mall, checking out Coach, etc. Turns out, Coach isn't my style (or Ester's), and even at outlet prices, we couldn't touch those bags with our wallets!

But, predictably, we ended up at Claire's, and of course found some baubles we just couldn't live without. I am now the proud owner of two Alice in Wonderland styled journals, with artwork that reflects the artwork from the classic book. I want to find the perfect use for them, and I think one might end up as a Quote Book (filled with quotes, verses and phrases that move me), but I don't know about the second one.

Warning: Mini-rant ahead

As I've mentioned what I did over the weekend to people, I've had some very interesting reactions. While America is overall a country where religious freedom is trumpeted from the rooftops, for many people this seems to only include the "major" religions of the world. Even some of those come under fire (Islam, for example), and most religious views that are socially acceptable seem to either be of a heavily Christian bent, or completely Atheist. Those who choose to worship differently, such as Pagans, Wiccans, etc, are often misunderstood and met with, at best, disdain. More often, they're met with direct hostility, and because of this, can be made to feel they can't openly talk about their beliefs as a form of self-protection.

I personally am a Christian, and while I don't agree with many other belief systems out there, I also don't agree that basing how I treat someone on their beliefs is fair, or right. One of my best friends is very strongly against formal religion of any kind, and if she HAD to be labeled, would probably consider herself Atheist. My other best friend is exploring all sorts of avenues, and is currently leaning a lot toward the Buddhist end of the spectrum. This doesn't change how I feel about either girl, how I treat them, what I say to them, or how much I love them. I don't think it should with anyone else, regardless of your relationship to them.

How do you feel about the less mainstream beliefs you've encountered? Have those experiences changed your perspective?

Monday, August 16, 2010

Peer Pressure

Sometimes, wanting to "be like others" can work in one's favor. When you're trying to instill good habits in your child, it can help to point out what their friends are doing. When you want to lose weight, it can help to look around at others who have succeeded, who are currently working toward it, and who live it day to day.

While I was in Belarus, I have to admit that I felt fat, frumpy and almost matronly compared to the women my age there. Nearly everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, is thin, beautiful and fashionable. It was as I imagine going to Paris would be, except that every single person was beyond kind to me. I spent a vast amount of my time observing the lifestyle the women live, and I noticed some serious common thread. Easy, simple things to incorporate into my life, that result in being happier with one's appearance.

Most of the women I was around don't eat after a certain time in the evening. They savor the foods they do eat, and eat slowly. They allow themselves to indulge, and balance it with tons of veggies and fruits. Minsk, the city I was in, is built for walking literally EVERYWHERE. Unfortunately, the city I call home is not made for this outside of the heart/downtown area. However, I am working to incorporate more walking into my life, and I have a lovely workout partner who lives 2 blocks away. She has the same goals as I do, and she's a fabulous motivation for me to get out there and work it.

Something else I noticed, while the people in Belarus may not live in the excess that we do in America (to some degree, I think this is better, but that has more to do with my views on waste/greed than anything), they make the absolute most of the things they do have. Belorussians buy things based on quality, not quantity. A girl may only own three outfits, but you'd better believe those outfits are STUNNING on her, and she has 4 or 5 accessories that dress up all three outfits. Her shoes are to die for, and on a daily basis, her skin, makeup, hair and nails look amazing.

Driving down the street in Minsk, you'd think all the popular/pretty/love to hate her/incredible girls in the world have landed in one place, and are all out shopping. It was a lot of fun to people watch, and I felt like I learned a lot about myself.

I always told myself I wouldn't be that wife/mom who let herself go after a certain point. Unfortunately, to some degree, I have. When I dolled up a bit last Friday, put on mile high heels and a dress and felt amazing...I suddenly received an INCREDIBLE amount of attention. Ladies at the grocery store stopped me to compliment me, men were openly staring, and the guys at work were very complimentary. This did worlds for my self-esteem, and has motivated me to not only keep up the effort in daily dressing, but to work harder toward my goals of weight loss/fitness.

I'm trying to think of a certain goal to have for myself, and what reward I want to work toward. I haven't decided yet, but I'm sure at least the reward will involve a tattoo!