Articles & Opinions, Updates

6 Things Nobody Tells You About Getting Married

Aerin & Andrew - Molly Anne Photography

Our first wedding anniversary came and went without a lot of fanfare. (It might have been more of an event, but I was super pregnant at the time.) We had a delicious dinner at J. Gilberts, shared a (non-alcoholic!) toast and reflected on the year that had passed. After some discussion, we agreed that getting married was nothing like we’d imagined.

“Things will never be the same!”

“You’ll never have time to yourself again!”

“You’ll act totally differently!”

“You’ll fight more since you won’t have to be on your best behavior anymore!”

That was the advice we’d get from people with even the best of intentions. It’s all really weird advice to give an engaged couple, when you think about it. And as it turns out – none of it has been true for us. Things are almost exactly the same as they were before our nuptials, except now I have a new last name, and we get to call each other husband and wife. Here are 8 things people didn’t tell us about getting married that are totally true:

1. You probably won’t feel any different
Literally exactly the same the next day. Granted we already owned a house together, but we woke up in our bedroom of our house and did the same things we always do on a Sunday, except we had WAY too much leftover food in the fridge. I may or may not have had cake for breakfast – I guess that was different?

2. Who you pick to participate in the planning and the big day really, really matters
Your wedding party, your cake decorator, even the officiant – they all matter a lot when it comes to making sure your day goes off without a hitch. I’d like to think I was more like a bride-chill-a even when things went wrong (see below), but you have a better chance of that highly sought after perfect day if you choose wisely and do your vendor research.

3. Pick an officiant you know and trust
We had a lovely small wedding at a local inn, and our officiant came with the ‘wedding package’ we purchased. Despite having written the ceremony and having delivered the speech to her nearly three weeks in advance – even after being corrected once – our JP got my husbands first name wrong three times during the ceremony. We all laugh about it now, and it doesn’t make our ceremony any less important or our marriage any less official, but oh man do I wish we had been able to choose the person who was going to marry us.

4. A lot of it is a total scam… that you have to take part in 
Take anything you might buy and tack on the word “wedding” and it very well may double in price. There are some things you may not be able to avoid this with – say a wedding dress for example – but here’s a tip: whenever possible, don’t tell them it’s a wedding. We had a reception for my family up in Maine, and we told the place we rented we were having a family reunion. Technically that wasn’t a lie, and I’m sure it saved us a bundle on the price.

5. It’s as complicated and as expensive as you make it
A lot of people do DIY when it comes to weddings – favors, decorations, even bridesmaid dresses. I chose to take the less hands-on approach, and I don’t regret it for a second. Neither did my stress level (or lack-there-of) that day. I didn’t do favors, I didn’t make decorations (thank you Oriental Trading!), and I told my maid of honor to find a dress in one of two colors that she felt comfortable in and buy it. And you know what? Nobody remembers that there weren’t any favors or a lot of decorations. What they do remember is the insane amount of delicious food, and the goat. As they should.

6. If you do it right, you’ll wish you could do it all over again tomorrow
We had an amazing wedding day that we’ll remember for the rest of our lives. Our guests probably will, too. I was nearly stress-free, I felt like a princess, and I married a kind, handsome fellow. Every day since then, I can safely say all the pre-wedding advice we got has been misguided. Getting married – and the rest of your life – is exactly what you make of it.

6 Things Nobody Tells You About Getting Married - Andrew & Aerin

Articles & Opinions, Weight Watchers

My Best Dieting Advice? Don’t.

I participate in a wonderful and supportive online community of ladies (and gentlemen) that tend toward geek culture. Recently, a forum user asked for dieting advice as she was about to embark on a new, healthier regiment.

So, what’s my best dieting advice?

1) Don’t diet. Diets are not sustainable, are often very lofty (cut out all white foods? good! I’ll just add more brown sugar. TO EVERYTHING), and more often than not, you’ll end up back where you started. To be successful, it has to be a lifestyle change. As crazy as it sounds, it really is as simple as ‘Eat less, move more’.
2) Small goals work best. If your goal is “I want to lose 80 lbs” you’ll feel like it’s impossible and to achieve and you’ll have a hard time getting there. Planning for between .5 and 2lbs per week to lose, knowing that 1lb is a healthy average. (Note – if you see a diet that suggests you can lose more than this in a week, say FAR away. And see #1.) Other small goals can include double my water intake or take 40,000 steps this week. Keep it achievable and dependent on your fitness level and nutrition needs.
3) Measure everything. When you’re starting out, measure it all. Even down to the creamer in your coffee. You truthfully won’t get the hang of ‘eyeballing’ things until you’ve made a conscious effort to measure. And even then, if you have the time, measure anyway. More often than not, you’ll be surprised to see what a serving actually looks like compared to what you’ve been serving yourself.
4) Find support. It can be your BF, it can be your parents, a friend, or even me! Someone you can talk to when you’re struggling who can get you back on track. Ideally, someone who’s struggled with their weight or had similar struggles so they can offer sage advice, or at least understand where you’re coming from.
5) Cook for yourself. It’s the easiest way to control what and how much you eat of something. Check out this post about my favorite recipes.
5.5) If your recipe makes multiple servings, pack the additional servings up immediately after cooking and put them away (before you sit down to eat). Out of sight, out of mind. I invested in a bunch of Pyrex containers and LOVE them.
6) Prepare prepare prepare. Make shopping lists and stick to them. Keep your fridge stocked with good choice snacks and meals and watch out for foods you know you have trouble controlling yourself with. If you know you’re going out to eat, look at the menu ahead of time so you can make a good decision.
7) All that being said, eat what you want. The minute you deprive yourself of food you love, you’re on a diet. (See #1) Focus on portion control. Love pizza? Have it a couple times a month and order a small. Load it with veggies. Candy? Buy dark chocolate squares or the mini candy bars and make sure you account for each one you eat.
8) Exercise ≠ Gym. Find a way to move more that you don’t despise and you’ll do it more. Walks, Zumba, Dancing, Wii Fit, Cleaning – whatever floats your boat!
9) Find an anchor. Could be a person, could be a trinket, could be your “fat pants.” Pick something that brings you back to the core reason you’ve decided to make this lifestyle change and keep it where you can access it. When you’re struggling, remember why you started, look at how far you’ve come.
10) Restart. We all have bad days. Bad weeks. Bad months, even. Give yourself a break, give in to the occasional indulgence – but don’t forget to restart tomorrow. Better yet, restart at your next meal, or even right now.

Optional:
I can’t recommend Weight Watchers enough. It’s the only thing that has worked for me, and I spent 28 years of my life yo-yo dieting or just not giving a flying you-know-what. I’ve maintained a 50lb loss for more than a year now thanks to WW and my amazing leader, Betsy. Leave me a comment if you want to know more.

Articles & Opinions

Changing the Hunt

We’ve all heard the news – the U.S. is creating more jobs. Lots more. Even so, there are plenty of Americans on the job hunt. Having recently been on the hunt myself, the process has been on my mind. Fact is, the current hiring process is outdated, unhelpful, and a pain in the ass to pretty much everyone involved. I know a lot of folks on the interwebs are still feeling the sting of the recent economic decline, and are offering advice (occasionally good) to job seekers. Dress for success – come prepared – don’t speak ill of your previous employers. These are nuggets most job seekers know by heart. I’d like to take a different route – I would like to offer some advice to the interviewers and the companies doing the hiring.  Here are 10 things that need to change:

1.       Don’t wing it. If you haven’t read the resume of the person you’re about to interview at least twice, take a minute to do so before you enter the room, or reschedule. You should know who you’re talking to, have a sense of why they were called in for an interview, and give yourself a chance to ask thoughtful, information-getting questions.

2.       Take notes. Chances are you’ve received hundreds of applications and resumes for the position you posted – you’ll need a way to tell your interviews apart once you’ve had a few days to sit on them. Write down questions that are pertinent to the position, the company or the person you’re looking for, and make note of each interviewee’s answers. Ideally this will help with your weeding process later.

3.       Don’t require extra, unnecessary leg work. Requiring your interviewees to fill out a paper application upon arrival at an interview in 2013 is just silly. Technologies exist where we can upload a resume and have it auto-fill pieces of the fill-in-the-blank resume every company seems to require now. Filling out a paper application for a job that you’ve already sent your resume in to and gotten an interview for is pretty frustrating. Better yet – didn’t get all the information you were looking for from their resume? Ask them for the missing pieces in the interview.

4.        If it’s broke, fix it. Anyone who has been to a job interview in the last twenty years can probably recite the same ten questions interviewers always ask. Change it up, people! Stop asking where I see myself in five years. Where do I see myself? Why, I’ll be working for you making buckets and buckets of money! What are my strengths and weaknesses? Something that makes me sound hardworking and awesome whether I actually am or not, followed by something that’s not actually a weakness but I phrase it so it sounds like I totally answered your question.

5.       Ask new questions, part deux. I say scrap all the typical interview questions. What do they tell you? They tell you how well your interviewee can use Google to find the ‘best answers to interview questions’ and regurgitate them. You’re hiring the person for their skills as well as their personality and work ethic. Find out what those are. Give them a scenario or test that will show you how competent they are. Ask them about a specific situation you handled that went sour and see how they’d fix it. Ask them about the types of things they like to do outside of working. Let them talk to you like a human being, and they’ll probably be a little less nervous to boot.

6.       Look for personalities and habits that will fit well with your team. Just because you think you’ve hit the jackpot on paper does not mean the person will fit in your office environment. People with great tech skills or those that graduated at the top of their class can still have social interaction issues that could cause problems for your employees or your company down the line. Richard Branson does it, and he’s one successful dude.

7.       Treat applicants and interviewees like your clients, because they could become or already are your clients. They are people who will potentially purchase products or services from you whether they get this job. If you treat them well, they may even recommend you to friends. So be good – respond to their e-mails in a timely fashion. Don’t beat around the bush. In their eyes, little things like that can reflect as poorly on your company or your brand as it does on you.

8.       Give them a date. If you’re bad about getting back to people, give your interviewees a date they’ll hear from you by so they know not to keep hoping three weeks later that you’re just too busy to call but they definitely got that job. And along that same line…

9.     Put people out of their misery. If the candidate isn’t qualified or a good fit for your company? Let them know as soon as humanly possible. I know jobs posted get a ton of applications these days, but honestly, how hard is a “thanks for applying but we’re going in a different direction” mail-merge? Or even “we know it’s been a week since you interviewed, and we wanted to let you know that we haven’t forgotten about you and we hope to let you know no later than [date].”

10.   Embrace Skype. Utilize the awesomeness that is video chat, especially for those who are still working full-time while job hunting. This prevents you from having to reserve meeting room space, and it saves them gas and potential lies to their current employer about the “doctor’s appointment” they forgot about. In the end it will save time for you both.

I hope, for the sake of people on the hunt everywhere, things change in the job seeker space. If you liked this post, you should also read this great article on the 10 Qualities of Exceptional Interviewers.

 

Articles & Opinions, Music

Blast from the Past: A Lesson in the Ancient Art of Karaoke

March, 2010

I’m going to periodically add posts from blogs I’ve previously written for. Here’s a favorite of mine.

Despite the nasty rumor that’s been circulating around for years, ‘Karaoke’ does not mean “tone deaf.” It actually translates to “empty orchestra,” which, unfortunately, doesn’t describe the phenomenon as well as the rumor.
Recently I’ve volunteered my time to a local non-profit that holds a Karaoke contest every year. There are many qualifiers at local establishments, a semi-finals where they whittle down to the final 12 contestants, and a finals where they’ll pick two honorable mentions and a grand prize winner. It’s actually not a bad gig to win – cash prize contests never are. But I’ve noticed a trend, having been involved in the event the last few years. Once as a judge, once as a guest judge and now as the photographer. Hear me out.
I’m a bit of a self-taught music nerd. I’ve taken a class or two on general music history, but I don’t have extensive training in the subject by any means. I am able to pick at a couple instruments and play a recognizable song or two, and Iam very good at ‘Name That Tune.’ And being a little obsessed with all things music doesn’t hurt either. What I mean to say is, I’m no authority, but I still think you should read my do’s and don’ts of Karaoke.
(Keep in mind, these are suggestions for competition Karaoke only. I’m not trying to step on the toes of drunken-bar-for-funsies-’oke.)

Do’s & Don’ts of Karaoke.

DO sing a song you’re passionate about. Something you can put a little feeling into.

DO pick an artist you respect, identify with, or even idolize.

DO practice your song at least once before going on stage. In the car or the shower counts.

DO dress the part. I’m not saying you need glitter & stilettos or a fedora and a bolo tie, I’m just saying don’t wear your friggin’ pajamas.

DO make eye contact, and if at all possible, memorize the lyrics so you’re not staring at the teleprompter the whole time.

DO perform your song in front of HONEST friends before hopping on stage, if you can get them to listen. It’s hard when your friends lie to you and tell you you’re great, only to get on stage and realize they were being way too kind. But at the same time, DON’T ask for an opinion you’re not ready to hear.

DON’T pick a song just because you love it. Loving it does not mean it’s in your vocal range, it does not mean it will go over well with the crowd and it definitely does not mean you can do it any justice.

DON’T pick a diva song unless you’ve got the balls to carry it out. This means no Mariah, no Whitney, no Celine, no Adele and no Aretha.

DON’T stand there like a fence post while you sing. This is your moment, dude.

DON’T pick something too obscure, too heavy, too vulgar or too long. The point is to get people to enjoy and remember your performance.

DON’T pick the same damn song every time. If I have to see you in a qualifier, the semi finals and the finals doing the same song the same way every single time, it makes me want to punch you in your hoo-hoo.

Lastly folks, I want to point out that it takes a TON of courage to get up there and do a number. More courage than I’ve managed to muster. Especially all by yourself, and especially in front of judges. I just want you to do your absolute best, so I give you these tips, lovingly and free of charge.

Seacrest out.

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