Deep Thoughts, Friday

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What are you up to this weekend? We’re going to the Purity Ring concert in Zurich tonight and then hanging around Bern with a couple of friends tomorrow. Adam and I went to the symphony last night which was a pure treat. It’s nice to have a date that feels a little fancy and different.

We’ve been talking a lot about what our life is like right now and how we’d like it to be in the future, and that future picture includes children. While we’re not anticipating little ones tomorrow, it definitely is something that’s on my mind a lot. This piece of advice was a reiteration on the inability to “have it all” in a fresh and candid voice. She brings up an especially interesting point, “I became much more focused and ambitious after I had kids. I valued my time more. I used my time more wisely.” Any input here from women who are already moms?

In the same vein I’ve been talking a lot to a friend lately about knowing when you’re ready to become a mom. She’s trying to decide if she wants a second and she has a lot of sound advice about not ever feeling ready. You just do it and embrace it and let it change everything in your world. These moms say something similar and it’s nice to know that there may never be an exact right moment for anything.

Big thoughts on a Friday! I hope you and yours have a wonderful spring weekend and here are a few links from around the web:

A song for tonight!

Cheese could save your life (right now we have five kinds of cheese in the fridge so we’re in the clear)

I just bought this book and can’t wait to start reading it.

DIY succulent pots look *relatively* easy to make. Worth a try, methinks

It’s asparagus season! My favorite! I want to make this soon and maybe swap in goat cheese? Serve it with Sancerre?

Should women wear a work uniform?

“What Part of ‘No, Totally!’ Don’t You Understand?” Grammar nerds, you’re going to love this.

Paris / New York

Made me laugh. So true.

(image via)

Our Wedding: Ceremony and Portraits

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adam-kristina-0153Our wedding ceremony was easily the most special part of the day. I understand that might be an obvious sentiment given the whole purpose that we gathered that afternoon, but Penny, our pastor, was truly exceptional. I’ve known Penny since I was a little girl. She was a neighbor of ours and the kids used to play together while the moms talked. Once, while my mom was in New York visiting my aunt, she had to rush over before kindergarten to braid my hair because my dad was at a total loss. What a lifesaver!

Penny asked Adam and I to write letters to one another before the ceremony and she said she would read parts of them throughout her sermon. Adam and I have a long history of writing love letters so this felt a little daunting since there would be an audience, but mostly we were prepared. In fact, Penny read each of our letters in their entirety and they were so incredibly special not only to us but to all the guests. They were such a beautiful artifact of our past, present, and current love and I know our friends and family used the reading of them as a time to reflect on their own love and relationships. Needless to say we cried while she read them both, and I’m pretty sure I could hear lots of sniffling behind me.

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adam-kristina-0110I love these silly little monkeys. My dad and I were waiting behind the curtain and could hear lots of laughs as the triplets came down the aisle. It seems there was a bit of a miscommunication between the three of them as to when and where to drop the petals : ) Organized chaos at its sweetest.

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I was ready to charge down the aisle. Nerves, excitement, energy, and anticipation all jumbled up together, you know? My dad literally had to tug my arm backward because I was ready to take that aisle at a full trot. (p.s. I walked down the aisle to this song)

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adam-kristina-0161What a surreal moment it is to stand in front of all your favorite people and declare something so sacred and precious and personal. I love Adam and I’m ready to love him forever. There’s certainly something to be said for a small and intimate gathering but to share it with others is an unimaginable blessing. We felt so loved and encouraged. I can’t wait to do it again! : )  [for reference, we had 125 people there–a number that I thought made for a fun party, but was also very manageable]

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On Spying

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While I was cooking dinner the other night Adam caught me snooping on our neighbors. I was staring at a balcony on the apartment building next to ours, wondering out loud what kind of gathering was going on. “Those were the girls I saw laying out in their swimsuits the other day,” I said, by way of explaining my sketchy behavior. The creepiness was palpable.

Why are we so interested in spying on our neighbors? According to the 2014 National Home Security study in Great Britain, one in three people admit to harmless spying on their neighbors, most often in the guise of “making sure everything is alright”. Others say they can quickly notice when house paint has been changed or when a neighbor gets a new car. Some even mentioned in the study that they can tell who of their neighbors is in a fight, or experiencing a life change.

Our upstairs neighbor has the loudest sneeze known to man. It is frightening in its intensity and frequency. There used to be a young woman who lived in the building across from us who would sit outside and drink coffee and smoke cigarette after cigarette in her bathrobe at all hours of the day. She moved at some point earlier this year. Two other neighbors on the other side of our building had babies within just a couple weeks of each other. I can hear them crying through open windows. Our neighbors across the hallway have become surrogate grandparents to us. They’re always keeping us in the loop of what’s happening in the city and neighborhood.

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IMG_2451^^my spying perch

Does this knowledge make me a snoop? Am I doing something illicit? I’m not trying to justify my behavior here, but it almost seems impossible not to know this much about the people who live around me. Our buildings are all so close and we live with the curtains open–as do many of our neighbors–so aren’t we bound to just learn all this information by accident? Or happenstance?

Working from home can be incredibly isolating. I take some comfort in knowing there are so many other people around throughout the day. It honestly makes me feel less alone. But, I will admit, there is some pleasure in being an amateur sleuth. Sometimes I fill Adam in on the regularities of our neighbors: one neighbor planted her window boxes so it must be time to garden; I think she cleans apartments in the building because sometimes I see her in other windows; so-and-so with the gray ponytail was out cleaning and polishing his purple motorcycle–time to ride!

In the interest of full transparency I sometimes forget that we are being watched as well. What do people think of me when I’m still in my pajamas at noon? Or only brushing my teeth for the first time well into the afternoon? (see note about working from home…) Do they think we look like a nice couple when we’re enjoying a homemade dinner on the balcony? I’d like to think that we look like a sweet little family from the outside.

And what about when harmless spying becomes the more sinister voyeurism? As spies, do we know when we’ve crossed the line? How much knowledge is too much? When does it go from being fun and just clandestine enough to being harmful and invasive? I think we’ve all read too many stories about hidden cameras in hotels and apartments…

We watched Rear Window the other night while mulling over some of these ideas. What a suspenseful movie! I’d highly recommend it if you haven’t seen it. Also, last week’s episode of Radiolab, titled, “The Living Room”, talks about this very issue. Diane inadvertently becomes enmeshed in one specific neighbor couple and what she sees shakes her immensely.

What do you think? Please tell me I’m not alone here! I’d love to hear your experiences with spying on neighbors and whether you think it’s harmless or harmful.

 

 

 

Another Hike Up the Gurten

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IMG_7361While its known as a mountain to most, the Gurten is really a big, steep hill. You can reach the top in about an hour if you walk at a steady, consistent pace, but some people run it (up and down) over the lunch hour. By any Swiss standard the journey wouldn’t be considered a hike, but we’re American so we’ll count this as a fitness hike and reward ourselves with a frosty brew.

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Last Sunday was the perfect day for just such a “hike”/walk. It was sunny and temperate and there were just enough buds on the flowers and trees to give you hope that spring is here to stay. In the past week trees and bushes have taken a dramatic turn and really opened up. I swear I saw leaves actually growing the other afternoon while I was sitting on the balcony.

We packed a picnic (and a book) and lounged on the grass for a while before taking an alternate route down. It all felt very Swiss, which was wonderful. We’ve experienced a lot of ups and downs lately and feeling like you belong in a culture that is normally pretty closed off and isolated can boost morale considerably. In that way, the Gurten holds a special little place in my heart.

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p.s. guess who we saw at the bottom? these ridiculously cutie ponies!!

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Let’s Relax, Friday

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The other weekend Phil came up for a Saturday of bowling and darts, followed by an early Easter dinner and cards. We’re all about the Uno and Golf around here…

What are you up to this weekend? We’ve had two busy weekends in a row so we’re hoping to lay low and take it easy. It’s supposed to rain here so it will be perfect for puttering and tinkering around the apartment. I’m making this for dinner tomorrow night and my mouth is already watering.

I hope you have a lovely weekend and here are a few links that kept me busy this week:

A song for Saturday

7 great podcasts to try now that you’ve crushed Serial (I just subscribed to This American Life and Radiolab)

Speaking of, more information about why your brain likes audio storytelling so much

What are your thoughts on this Nike ad?

This has been me one too many times. Made me laugh (and cringe : )

Lovely sandals

Remember our trip to Vals? Apparently this new hotel may be popping up there soon. Yikes.

This book looks incredible. Add it to your must-read list!

The impact of a positive response. It’s funny because I was conditioned to reply, “Finethankyouhowareyou?”, when asked how I was as a kid and still respond that way to this day, with perhaps a bit more enthusiasm and cheer. Thanks Mom!

Have you seen Dove’s most recent Real Beauty campaign promo? I like these short films because they can be empowering, but I also really like this take on it and the films’ propensity toward oversimplification.

 

 

On Morality

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The other day I read David Brook’s most recent op-ed column for the New York Times and it’s been on my mind ever since. Titled “The Moral Bucket List” it’s a bit of a tongue-in-cheek nod to the backlash traditional buckets lists were getting last year, wherein the pursuit becomes more about the accomplishment rather than the experience. That is, are we focusing too much on checking off items on a list instead of truly enjoying a momentous occasion, or more simply laughing at one’s tremendous good fortune? That alone is enough food for thought for one day.

But, Brooks’ article brings up some useful and relevant ideas that I want to mull over with you. Brooks suggests that he’d like to be more like people who radiate an inner light and goodness, people who have generosity of spirit and immense depth of character. To do this, to achieve a higher state of humility and generosity, Brooks proposes we seek to achieve a set of accomplishments on a moral bucket list. Without one he finds, “Gradually, a humiliating gap opens between your actual self and your desired self, between you and those incandescent souls you sometimes meet.”

We should embody humility: “But all the people I’ve ever deeply admired are profoundly honest about their own weaknesses…They have achieved a profound humility, which has best been defined as an intense self-awareness from a position of other-centeredness.”

Self-defeat: “character is built during the confrontation with your own weakness.”

A moderate dependency on others: “people on the road to character understand that no person can achieve self-mastery on his or her own. Individual will, reason and compassion are not strong enough to consistently defeat selfishness, pride and self-deception. We all need redemptive assistance from outside.”

Energizing love: “That kind of love decenters the self. It reminds you that your true riches are in another. Most of all, this love electrifies.”

A calling: “some people have experiences that turn a career into a calling. These experiences quiet the self. All that matters is living up to the standard of excellence inherent in their craft.”

A conscience leap: “[These people] leap out beyond the utilitarian logic and crash through the barriers of their fears.”

While making a case for living a life fueled by morality, Brooks writes, “The people on this road see the moments of suffering as pieces of a larger narrative. They are not really living for happiness, as it is conventionally defined. They see life as a moral drama and feel fulfilled only when they are enmeshed in a struggle on behalf of some ideal.”

It’s a thought-provoking piece about purpose and strength of character. Who do you want to be? Who do you want to serve? What do you mean to yourself? Others?

I would love my life to be full of compassion and love and gratitude and “other-centeredness”. What about you?

(Image of “The Kiss” by Saul Steinberg, 1959)

 

Our Wedding: Before the Ceremony

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adam-kristina-0058Our second wedding was almost 8 months ago but it’s only now that I’m really sitting down to look through the beautiful photos of that day. We used Steven Michael Photo and he did a wonderful job capturing the excitement, sincerity, and fun of the day. We didn’t get our pictures back until just before Christmas and with everything going on that time of year we didn’t carve out much time to go through them; we thought we’d wait until we returned to Switzerland. Then we returned to Switzerland and immediately turned around to head back to Kansas. There never was a right time to look over them all while we were back, hence why I’m only now getting to it.

That’s all to say that these photos–and the ones I’ll be sharing over the next week or so, there are a lot–make me incredibly emotional and grateful. When I think of all Joe, Adam’s dad, has been through the past four months I feel inexplicable joy for the entire wedding weekend. Adam and I had a blast, but everyone agrees that no one had more fun than Joe.

So I hope you’ll indulge me as I share some images from this very special occasion, beginning with events that happened pre-ceremony. Courtney and I got our hair done at Parlor, a dry bar in Leawood. My ballerina bun was completed in about five minutes, with the help of about 50 bobby pins and a can of hairspray, so I got to lounge and read magazines while Courtney’s hair was fluffed and tousled. It was a very relaxing hour and I’m glad Court and I had a little time to ourselves before the rush of the afternoon.

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Courtney and I then headed to Berg Event Space to get ready. They have a spacious bridal suite that was ideal for applying makeup sipping Champagne, and shaking out any last minute jitters. Unfortunately, there aren’t too many pictures of Adam getting ready because he mostly got ready at the hotel and the camera loves me ; ) Plus, the groom’s room was tiny.

A quick note: we loved working with Berg Event Space. Everyone was very professional and prompt and we felt knowledgeable about what the day would look like. Our opinions were heard and that made the whole process feel much more smooth and easy. We also just really liked the space. It has the industrial loft look that is very appealing right now and the big windows looking into downtown KC are such a perk. We would highly recommend it!

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My parents gave me those David Yurman pearl earrings as a grad school graduation gift, secretly hoping that I might wear them for my wedding someday. Little did any of us know that I would actually wear them only a few weeks later for our backyard wedding. It was a treat to wear them again. They were perfect.

Courtney and I elected to do our own makeup because a natural look was important to both of us. I basically amped up what I would do for a special night out and I felt great all night.

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Don’t let that smile fool you. Times were tough right then because I couldn’t breathe. Like, at all. The dress was tight, though I definitely had gotten myself in shape with a little help from my friend. I was nervous that I wouldn’t last the evening in that corset, but I think it was just nerves because as soon as people started coming in and I was distracted, I forgot all about any constriction. In fact, I didn’t give it another thought through the whole evening and also didn’t have to constantly pull up my dress, as strapless dresses often force you to do.

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That print was from a sweet Etsy shop whose name absolutely eludes me at this point. My friend Emily did the escort cards and table numbers. Isn’t her handwriting beautiful? On the card table we put up pictures of our relatives on their wedding days. I love that tradition. It’s such a nice way to honor the love and devotion in our families. I know we’ll look to all of them as sources of inspiration throughout our marriage.

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Soon I’ll share pictures of the ceremony and reception, and maybe even a few photos from our private session during cocktail hour. It appears we were meant to be models.

(All photos by Steven Michael Photo)