Grace

I woke up that morning and said thank you.

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To the sun, the teacup, the chickens, the blinds-

Anything and anyone who was listening.

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For the man who pores over youtube videos to learn how to poach an egg (I like poached eggs).

The man who taught me to see myself as being beautiful.

The one who gives me confidence that our relationship is not built on eggshells (eggs again).

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We would sometimes argue –

Whether we should buy a book on kindle (him) or in hardcopy (me)

Whether we should eat soup noodles (me) or a burger (him)

Oh and here’s the cracker of them all: whether we should buy 3 ply toilet paper or the environmental brand (take a guess)

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But mostly we agree.

That everyday we should make time to create Art.

That the Princess Bride is a great movie.

That family is important.

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That loving each other is a choice.  One that we make again every day.

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Whilst not every day is picture perfect

(Because honestly, who can afford to spend two hours on hair and make-up every day?)

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It is good to have a witness to our lives

Someone to share in the mundane (the beauty) of breathing in and out.

The thing we call living.

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Vivian + Tim WEB-642

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I’ve wanted to blog about our wedding many times over, but I was afraid to because it seemed like the day could not be reduced to words.  That any attempt to capture it in material form would somehow diminish its beauty.  Inspired by Sarah Kay’s poem of the same title (Grace), I finally decided to give it a go.  It’s not perfect – but it comes something close to how I feel about the day and about us.  I’d also like to take this opportunity to thank our vendors, who became our friends.  I would highly recommend any of them to anyone who’s getting married.  Planning a wedding can be stressful business, but these people went out of their way to make it easier for us.  For that (and for the laughter shared) we are grateful.  I also want to thank family and friends who flew a long way to celebrate with us (on a Monday!) – I didn’t include any of their photos or mentions of them (for privacy reasons) but your presence is what made the day what it isl. x

Photography: Erin from Erin and Tara I On the Day Coordinator and Stylist: Macedon Events I Venue: The Little Church at Springhill I Equipment Hire: Kyneton Hire I Catering: Digging for Fire I Drinks:  Beer Gypsies (who went above and beyond their duties and gave us a lift back to where we were staying – long story!) I Favours:  We donated on behalf of our guests to Library for All (who gave us lovely bookmarks) I Accommodation:  The Flop House and Mollisons I Floral Bouquets: Branche, High Street Glen Iris I Floral Design: Kara using flowers ordered from Tesselaar I Wedding Dress: Christos Lyla Gown bought as a sample gown (online) from The White Dress (I’m selling it, so if you’re interested contact me!) I Cake: Red Courgette (they made me a beautiful gluten free cake with cream frosting and fresh flowers for decoration!) I Hair and Makeup Janice Wu I Wedding dress alterations Heather Selick I 

Make it a rule not to get angry until you’ve spoken

The other day, someone rubbed me the wrong way.  It wasn’t a big deal but it still hurt.  I won’t go into the details – but basically I innocently did something which offended person A, let’s call them Anna.  I had no idea that what I was doing was causing Anna trouble.  If Anna had approached me directly and spoken to me about it, I would’ve apologised and stopped doing it; the matter would have ended there and then.  However, instead of approaching me directly, Anna went to another person who went to another person who then told me to stop doing what I was doing.

This whole incident caused me to think about my own behaviour.  How often have I been angry at someone and didn’t speak to them about it?  I may not have grumbled to other people about it, but I may have bottled up the anger…or worse, been passive aggressive about it.

Bar major ticket items (which may be clearly offensive / plain wrong), I’m making it a rule (for myself) that I have no right to be angry at someone, until I have spoken to the person directly about their actions.  At least that way, they have a chance to rectify the problem (or in my case become aware of the impact of my actions).

What do you think?  Do you approach people who have wronged you and have a conversation about it?  Or would you keep silent rather than cause conflict?  Would love to hear some thoughts. x

Concept of a Soul Mate – helpful or not?

IMG_0180.PNGWhen I was younger, the concept of a soul mate enthralled me.  I used to sit by my bedroom window, glance up at the stars and wonder if he was looking at the stars too…..waiting for me (as I type this I’m silently cringing). There was something so romantic, so beautiful in believing that someone or something in the Universe cared enough about me, to prepare someone especially for me to spend the rest of my life with.  This concept got me through many lonely Friday nights, and going to parties and weddings dateless……

I distinctly remember the first time that I questioned whether there was such a thing as a soul mate.  It was Year 12 year (the last year of my high school days) and my friend was getting married.  Her then fiance (now husband) and her were going through pre-marriage counselling and she commented (paraphrased because I don’t remember exactly what she said…):

“I don’t believe in the idea of a soul mate.  I mean there are so many people out there in the world, it’d be naive of me to think that I couldn’t possibly be attracted to more than one of them.  I honestly think that there could be more than one person who I could love and who I could be happy to be married to.  But because right now, I’m happily choosing to love one person for life, I choose not to entertain the possibility of what it may be like to love others in the same way.”

I remember feeling like I was hit in the face at the time; her ideas went against what I had always assumed but it also made a lot of sense.  I still haven’t got it all worked out in my head, but in recent years, I’ve leaned away from the concept of a soul mate and towards a view based more on choice than fate. 

Here are some reasons why I think the concept of a soul mate is unhelpful for me.

1.  It assumes I am not a whole person until I meet my other half. 

Traditionally, soul mate refers to the

”mystical notion of one soul shared in two physical bodies.” (Dr. Ophir, ‘Soul Mates’ in The Encyclopedia of Love in World Religions.)

The first documented literary source of the concept of soulmate is in Plato’s “Symposium”.  The song The Origin of Love (from Hedwig and the Angry Inch) is taken from the speech given by the playwright Aristophanes; I think it captures the vibe of this ‘one soul in two bodies’ concept well:

Whilst artistic and romantic, this concept doesn’t sit well with me…I don’t like the notion that I’m not ‘whole’ until I have met my ‘other half’.  I was my own person before I met my hubby and I remain my own person after we got married.  In fact, I think it’s very important to take responsibility and ownership of who I am in a marriage.  My happiness is not dependent on my hubby; he is not responsible for my happiness or my sadness.  Viv is responsible for her own happiness and sadness.  We make it a point to respect each other’s interests and leave each other space to ‘do our own thing’.

2.  It puts too much  (and too little) pressure on choosing the right person.

Ok, this one needs a bit of explaining.  Let’s start with the too much…..so if there’s only one special, unique person out there in the world for me….what happens if I chose the wrong one!  Or, or, or, I missed them?  Or worse still, they were born before or after my lifetime? (see Brain Picking’s post on The Science of Finding your Soul Mate).  If there is so much at stake in making the right choice and there is only one right answer, that pressure to choose right could be very paralysing (and most of us would end up not making a choice at all).

The flip side of this is, you’re supposed to know when you meet the one – whether it’s by the twinkle of his eyes, the way he smiles, or the fact that you both love to eat Freddos head first so the poor Freddo doesn’t feel any pain.  If I firmly believed in the concept of a soul mate and there was someone like that who immediately ‘clicked’ with me – it may lead to confirmation bias (tendency to search for or interpret information in a way that confirms one’s belief s or hypotheses); the result is that due consideration might not be given to other aspects of their personality which may help determine whether they are a suitable mate.

3.  So, what do I think (at the moment)?

I think if you choose someone to be your life partner, they become your soul mate.  This Little Prince quote (by Antoine de Saint-Exupery) says it well:

“The little prince went away, to look again at the roses.
“You’re not at all like my rose,” he said.
“As yet you are nothing. No one has tamed you, and you have tamed no one.
You’re like my fox when I first knew him.
He was only a fox like a hundred thousand other foxes.
But I have made a friend, and now he’s unique in all the world.”
And the roses were very much embarrassed.
“You’re beautiful, but you’re empty,” he went on. “One could not die for you.
To be sure, an ordinary passerby would think that my rose looked just like you
–the rose that belongs to me. But in herself alone she’s more important
than all the hundreds of you other roses:
because it is she that I have watered;
because it is she that I have put under the glass globe;
because it is for her that I’ve killed the caterpillars
(except the two or three we saved to become butterflies);
because it is she that I have listened to, when she grumbled,
or boasted, or even sometimes when she said nothing.
Because she is MY rose.”

Your shared experiences builds your love for each other.  And you become those whom you love:

“In a relationship, one mind revises the other; one heart changes its partner. This astounding legacy of our combined status as mammals and neural beings is limbic revision: the power to remodel the emotional parts of the people we love, as our Attractors [coteries of ingrained information patterns] activate certain limbic pathways, and the brain’s inexorable memory mechanism reinforces them.” (A General Theory of Love)

You can grow together.  Or you can grow apart.  The choice to love is a daily choice.  And your daily choices, makes up your marriage, and your life.

Edit:  I came across this article (Don’t marry your soul mate) in the huffington post today – touching on similar themes

Respect each season…..

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Most of what I learnt before the age of 8, was learnt in the form of stories told to me. This is one of them.

There once was a boy called Peter; he was a very impatient boy.  He often daydreamed – wishing that he was somewhere else other than where he was.  One day as he was resting, napping on the grass meadows outside his house, he heard someone calling his name.  He opened his eyes and was greeted by a striking old lady standing in front of him.  She had snow white hair and a twinkle in her eyes.  In her hand she held a silver ball, from which dangled a silken golden thread.  She offered the silver ball to Peter saying, ‘You can have this ball if you wish, but be careful with the magic thread.  This is your life thread.  Time will pass normally if you don’t touch the thread.  But if you want time to pass more quickly, you only have to pull the thread a little way and hours will pass by in a second.  But be careful — once the thread has been pulled out, it cannot be pushed back in again.’  Peter took the magic ball from her happily; it was exactly what he wanted.  The next day at school, when the teacher was scolding him for not listening, Peter gave the thread a little pull and suddenly class was over!  How happy life was going to be.  Soon he not only wanted class to be over, but he wanted school to be over, so he could marry Liese, his sweetheart.  A little pull – and soon he had finished school and was apprenticing as a carpenter.  Soon he grew accustomed to pulling the thread to by-pass the unpleasantness of life (or of waiting).  A little pull, to finish military service, a little pull so his baby would be well, a little pull to be out of jail…….however, not long after, Peter’s mother fell ill.  He refused to pull the magic thread as that would only hasten her death.  Suddenly time seemed to pass by so quickly, even though Peter was no longer pulling the thread.  

(Full story available here).

This story used to scare me because even at a young age, I realised that Peter was me.  And when you don’t learn the lesson the first time, life has a way of throwing the same lesson at you again and again – until you get it.  When I was in primary school, I wanted to be in high school so that I could stay up late (past the eight year old kind of bedtime).  When I was in high school, I wanted to be in Uni already (preferably in the course of my choice) because studying was just too time consuming as determined by my teenage mind.  When I was in Uni, I wanted to be working already so that I would have more disposable income to buy the things that I wanted.  Now, I’m working……and my friend summed up my sentiments precisely the other day when she made an observation in relation to her eight year old daughter, Lily. ‘I would love to be Lily and live her life, you know?   Even just for a day.  She gets up, goes to school (where she paints and reads books) and when she comes home she watches horrible histories on tele and eats a punnet of strawberries!  What’s not to like about that?’  It’s ironic how when we reach where we want to be, we nostalgically think back to what we consider to be happier times, even though when we were living through them, they were anything but happy.

Although I still haven’t quite learnt this lesson fully, here are some strategies which have helped me to overcome my ‘Peter-syndrome’.

1. Respect Each Moment

I deliberately picked the word respect, being to ‘have regard to’.  So what does it mean to have regard to each moment?  I’m a big fan of the mindfulness concept and practicing mindfulness has helped me to have regard for each moment. To me being ‘mindful’ means living consciously – being fully present moment-to-moment.  A more articulate description of this concept (from a much better qualified person than me!) is reproduced below:

The key to mindfulness is an appreciation for the present moment and the cultivation of an intimate relationship with it through a continual attending to it with care and discernment.  It is the direct opposite of taking life for granted.  The habit of ignoring our present moments in favour of others yet to come leads directly to a pervasive lack of awareness of the web of life in which we are embedded.  This includes a lack of awareness and understanding of our own mind and how it influences our perceptions and our actions.  By investigating inwardly our own nature as beings and, particularly, the nature of our minds through careful and systematic self-observation, we may be able to lives of greater satisfaction, harmony and wisdom (Kabat-Zinn, 1994).

2.  Respect Each Season

I have learnt that not only is it important to have regard to each moment, but also to have regard to each season.  Each season of life offers up different opportunities and different limitations.  Often I’m impatiently hanging out for the next season of life, when the trick is to look for opportunities in the current season and to maximise it before the next season rolls in!  I had been single for awhile before I met my hubby.  I ‘dated’ (word dated used loosely) one or two people during my high school and uni days, but for the vast majority of my teenage years and early twenties, I was single.  Regretfully, I spent a lot of my time during those days wishing I was dating (sigh, yet another twenty-first where I’m going by myself and driving myself.  Sigh, yet another wedding where I turn up on my own).  Looking back, I wish I made more of my time then.  Whilst I love, love, love being married – there are definitely things that you can do more freely as a single person than as a couple.  My married friends at the time tried to tell me this, but at the time I wasn’t ready to listen.  It was kind of ,’of course you’d say that cause you’re happily married.’  Whilst the lesson sunk in a bit more as time went by (right before I met Mister T), I still felt like I wasted a lot of hours wishing for the next season of my life to come by more quickly.

3.  Identify How it is That You Want to Feel 

This third point is a fairly new realisation for me.  I realised that sometimes I wished for the next season of life to roll in, not because I wanted to be in that season, but because I wanted to avoid something in my current season of my life.  Let me tease this out a bit.  For example, when I was in Uni, I wished fervently that I was settled at a job and working.  This desire didn’t stem from a desire to work at all, rather this desire stemmed from the fact that I wanted to avoid doing exams. (5 years of it was quite draining)  When I realised this (and finally became honest with myself), I picked Uni subjects with essays only and no exams, ahha!  I realised that it was much better to address the thing which I was trying to avoid, rather than wishing that I was at the next stage of my life – because:

If you don’t address the thing that you are trying to avoid in your current season of life, they will inevitably turn up (maybe in another form….) in the next season of your life.”

 

The Shortest (True) Story of A (Sometimes) Lazy Couple

Viv and Mister T were lazing about on the couch after a full meal.  Out of the goodness of his heart, Mister T says, ‘Viv, because you cooked dinner (read: heated up some food), I will wash up (read: put it in the dish washer).

To be fair, they were both combating some nasty super flu going around……and their efforts were still one step up from getting take-out.  Viv is sticking to her improving everything by 1% plan (read more HERE).  Making some effort is better than making no effort at all.

What are your cheat meals for your off days?  Any suggestions will be welcomed!  Comment below or post on our facebook page HERE

Kindness as a Muscle.

I recently read an article which outlines the science of lasting relationships – basically it all comes down to kindness.  Without being disrespectful (one always follows this sentence with something which is disrespectful :-/), I feel like saying duh.  As a society we spend a lot of time and money researching things which should be intuitive……perhaps it’s not that intuitive?

I  find it comforting that the key to a lasting relationship can be learnt; the article makes interesting comments about kindness being a muscle:

There are two ways to think about kindness. You can think about it as a fixed trait: either you have it or you don’t. Or you could think of kindness as a muscle. In some people, that muscle is naturally stronger than in others, but it can grow stronger in everyone with exercise. Masters tend to think about kindness as a muscle. They know that they have to exercise it to keep it in shape. They know, in other words, that a good relationship requires sustained hard work.

That is so true;  in the coming years of my marriage I am going to exercise my kindness muscle so that it grows bigger and stronger (How daggy, I can’t believe I just typed that).

The full article is available at this LINK. I highly recommend a read.  It’s not exclusive to romantic relationships either, kindness is something we can all practice a little more of…..I’m saying this especially to remind myself.  In the tiredness and busyness of the every day, sometimes I slide over to the irritable me without realising how much it may hurt those around me.  Time to make a change.

Letting your significant other be good at what they’re good at

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My life has been in fast-forward mode the past 2 weeks; in the short span of 14 days I have 1) gotten married 2) had our rental application accepted (insert sigh of relieve) and 3) received our keys to said apartment!

Today, a sunny Saturday afternoon, my hubby and I trucked in bucket-loads of cleaning stuff to scrub everything from top to bottom.  We went for the divide and conquer strategy.  He tackled the bathroom, whilst the kitchen was all mine.  After a full day of scrubbing and cleaning (both our allergies kicking in) we settled back contently…….and then he dropped the bomb.  Being as tactful and as sensitive as he could possibly be, my hubby observed that the racks in the kitchen pantry was still very oily and that there was left over JIF on the kitchen stovetop.  The very places I had just cleaned.

I burst into tears.  It was a combination of being tired and feeling that I had spent a whole day scrubbing to no avail.  But mostly, it was because I felt that as a girl I was supposed to be the one that’s good at cleaning, good at decorating, good at sewing etc.  He’s the one that’s supposed to be good at planning, good with details and good with finances.

In my calmer moment (after my initial burst of tears), I sneaked a peek at the bathroom and realised that it was sparkling clean.  The bathroom was so clean that I could sleep in it (no exaggeration).  It was then that I realised – life would be a lot less stressful if we just released each other to be what we are best at.  There’s nothing in the marriage rule-book that says I have to be the one that’s better at cleaning.  Should my hubby be the one that’s more talented at cleaning – then so be it!  I’m happy to let him teach me.  Similarly, there’s no reason for me to get all uptight when my hubby isn’t exactly the details person that I am – marriage is working out each other’s strength as a team, and letting the person who’s better at it lead.

A revelation I wish I had worked out sooner.

Questions to Grow Your Relationship

My fiance and I spent most of our dating years apart (comments about long distance relationships shall be saved for another day!)  Being on the phone or on skype, forces you to communicate talk.   Overtime, I learnt was to ask better questions.  Better questions means more specific questions.  Instead of how are you, try what struck you the most from the movie on the weekend?  This not only prompts more in-depth discussions, but also teaches you to listen actively.  You can’t ask specific questions, until you’ve listened to what’s going on in the other person’s life  Glennon Melton puts it much better than me in her recent article The Questions that will Save Your Relationships.