7.31.2013

{on anxiety}

There's something that I'm not sure I've told you; I've hinted at it before, I suppose, but I haven't come out and explicitly said it. I guess I'm afraid to. But, this is my safe space. It's my creative outlet, my favorite form of therapy. So here it goes. 
This isn't a new thing, really. Ever since I can remember, I've been a bit paranoid. I hate the dark and being home by myself. I like to think up really terrible scenarios in my head, and get worked up over them. But in this past year, my anxiety has gone to a whole other level. 

The thing is, I'm happy. I'm happier than I've ever been in my life. In the past, I've dealt with my share of anxiety, sure, but I was depressed for quite a while. Changing my outlook on life, and my career, has made any residual sadness in my life disappear.

I guess anxiety is just something that we all deal with. For me, however, having the pressure of not only working for yourself (and providing for your family), but also accepting the trust that my clients have put in me, is a lot. More than that, it's a lot to trust myself that I got this

In the past few months, I've made an intentional decision to work on my anxiety. It was nearly unmanageable a few months ago, but it was also taking a toll on my marriage and my personal life. I couldn't sleep. I was crying almost every day. It as bad. 

I feel a thousand times better today. My work is a thousand times better, my home life is a thousand times better, and I'm just...content. It's hard for me to put this out there, but some of it does have to do with medication. At first I was ashamed, but now I realize that it was necessary. Before I was on medication, I would let my work consume me all the time. Even if something wasn't a high priority and didn't need to get done right that minute, all I could think about was work. Now, I know when something is at risk of not getting done, but instead of just stressing over it, I just get it done. And if I have to let something go until the next morning, I do. I don't let myself wallow or think about it too much. 

I wanted to share a few other ways that I'm learning to deal with my anxiety. Medication doesn't fix everything, but it helps put me in the right frame of mind to calm myself down and figure out what I need to do. Here are some other ways that I deal with it all. 

Let go of technology.

If you work for yourself, you know the catch-22 that is technology. iPhones and laptops are great, until they consume your life. It's easy to get notifications every time you get an email, or spend any spare moment religiously checking your social media sites. I did it, and it wasn't until recently that I realized how much it consumed my life. 

I don't need to be constantly checking my email, and I definitely don't need to be answering emails right away. If I've learned anything about blogging the three years that I've been doing it, it's that you have to live your life, before you can share it with others. My family and my home and my happiness are the most important things to me, so these are the things that I need to focus on. Technology doesn't always have to play a part in that. 

In the past six months, I've slowly let go of my grip on technology. I don't get push notifications for my email; I don't actually get any type of notifications on my phone, other than calls or text messages. And our phones stay out of the bedroom completely. If we go out to dinner, our phones stay away. It's one very easy way that I've learned to deal with any anxiety that comes with being connected.

Write it down.

Sometimes, I do actually have a reason to be stressed or overwhelmed. Work does get out of hand every once in a while, and there are definitely days that I have to work into the night. When that happens, and I feel like everything is just out of control, I write it all down. 

Even if I have an ongoing to do list, I really find it helpful to write down exactly what it is I have to do. My favorite technique is to make a two column list; on one side is the task I have to do or what is stressing me out, and the other side has what I can do about it. Seeing a list of explicit tasks really makes a difference. Not only that, but if I'm stressing out about something and write down that there is nothing I can do about it, then it kind of forces me to just let it go. You should try it. 

Remember the why.

I wrote about this a few weeks ago, but this is probably one of the best ways that I deal with  my anxiety. Sometimes I'll write it down, sometimes I just take a moment to close my eyes and remember why it is that I'm doing what I'm doing. Usually, the reason has to do with my quality of life. That really puts things into perspective. 

So, there it is. I have anxiety, and sometimes I have a hard time dealing with it. But life is good, for all of us. I just have to remember that sometimes. 

Do you have anxiety? How do you deal with it?

7.28.2013

{monday's mantra}

Hope you all had a fabulous weekend! I'm not back at work just yet; we're taking a few more days for our weekend by laying by the pool in Vegas. It's just so necessary every once in a while, don't you think?

It didn't take me long to come up with this week's mantra. I feel like I've been telling everyone this these days, including myself.
If you're like me, you question yourself and your decisions all. the. time. Sometimes, you just really need to remind yourself that you got this. You don't have anything to worry about, I promise.

Happy Monday everyone! 

7.26.2013

{five things}

And it's Friday! Only two days until I'll be sitting by a pool in Vegas, drinking margaritas. Who knows, maybe I'll even splurge and play a little blackjack (it's my game of choice). Basically I'm just really excited to take a relaxing vacation with my family for a few days. 

Anyway, I'm not sure if you heard (I don't think I actually announced it, other than on Instagram), but I moved into the small office of our studio to work during the day. I've been having a really hard time separating "work" from "life", and Robert and I have been hoping that this is the solution. It makes me kind of sad that I spent so much time getting my home office ready for work, but I think that I'll still be in there a lot too. Goodness knows the work never really ends...
We're a dog friendly studio, which means that if you ever stop by, you might just get to see this sweet face! I met little Alfie for the first time the other day, and he is too precious. Though they haven't met yet, he and Olive are meant to be boyfriend and girlfriend.

As always, here are five things from my week to yours!

1 // It's not even August yet, but there's no surprise that I'm already dreaming about fall. Here's a gorgeous fall wedding that I kind of fell in love with yesterday! 

2 // I will happily admit that I have been following the story of the royal baby (probably because I wish I were a princess). So why not focus on the important things, like the fact that the world has a new prince!

3 // For your weekly cry, part one.

4 // And part two.

5 // Don't forget to enter for your chance to win a $50 Nordstrom gift card!   

Hope you all have a great weekend! Be safe, and have fun!

7.25.2013

{the wedding blog + two giveaways}

If you "like" A Charming Occasion on Facebook, you may already know about this promotion and giveaway, but I wanted to share it with all of you as well! As you all know, I am the owner and lead coordinator for A Charming Occasion, a wedding planning and design company based in Southern California. My baby business has grown a lot in the past year, and now I have something else to add to the list: we have a new blog! Since bringing on a few new team members, I've been wanting to create a blog exclusively for the business, which will include wedding planning tips and advice, as well as photos from the weddings we coordinate. Both my associate coordinator and assistant will be blogging along with me. 

That being said, we are hosting a promotion and giveaway over on The Wedding Blog that anyone looking for a wedding coordinator is going to want to check out! 
You can read about all the details here!

But...there's more. I know that a lot of my readers here on Something Charming aren't currently looking for a wedding coordinator, so I wanted to do something special for all of you. If you share this promotion at all (i.e. via Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, or even word of mouth), just let me know in the comments! I'll choose one of you at random to get a $50 Nordstrom gift card! This will be open until the end of August, so be sure to leave a comment every time you share! Good luck!

7.23.2013

{anniversary weekend away}

I'm sure you are all tired by now of hearing about our anniversary, but I still have more to share! I'm a big believer that relationships should be nourished, and every year together should be celebrated. Robert and I had an amazing weekend away, honestly one of the best weekends of my life (as cliche as it may sound). If you haven't heard the story of our tradition, I'll update you really quickly. 

We had the In N Out truck at our wedding three years ago, and then went up to wine country for our honeymoon. On that trip, we bought a bottle of wine to drink on our first anniversary. When our first anniversary came around, we decided to get In N Out and drink our wine to celebrate. We found ourselves back in Los Olivos on our anniversary weekend, and got another bottle of wine to drink on our second anniversary. We've been celebrating our marriage this way since, with a great bottle of wine and burgers and fries from In N Out every year. It's definitely one of our favorite days of the year!

This past weekend, we had our annual trip up to Los Olivos for our anniversary. We go up there probably once every other month at least, so we decided to do something a little more special this time around. Not only did we get a hotel room (at the Ballard Inn, which is absolutely adorable, by the way), but also hired a driver to take us around to a few different wineries that we don't normally go to. We tend to stick with the same places every time we're up there (it's what happens when you're a member at a few different places), but there are so many amazing wineries to choose from! 
For this trip, we visited Sunstone, Roblar, and Demetria on Sunday, and Palmina in the Lompoc Wine Ghetto on Monday. We actually went to Demetria on our honeymoon three years ago, and hadn't been back since, even though we remember it being incredible. If you ever find yourself in the Santa Ynez Valley, you just have to make a trip to Demetria. Tastings are by appointment only, but it's completely worth it. Their "tasting room" is literally a kitchen, and they serve you outside on their terrace. The view is absolutely beautiful, and they are so friendly! Not to mention the wines are some of the best in the area, in my honest opinion.

Sunday night was dinner at the Ballard Inn, and it may have been one of the best meals of my life. I had cauliflower soup to start, and seriously? I can't even describe how amazing their soup was. Robert had the duck, and I splurged on a strip steak that was melt-in-your-mouth delicious. Again, you have to stay here and eat dinner if you ever have a chance. 

We decided to make the trip into Lompoc on Monday, since we've heard so many great things about the Lompoc Wine Ghetto. If you love just really good wine, in an unassuming place, you should try it. These tasting rooms are located in a small industrial complex, but don't let that deter you. We only made it to one tasting room, Palmina, and I was amazed. Not only was their service the best, but they opened and served so many more wines than I ever expected, including a 2003 Nebiolo which was...probably the best I had all weekend. I had to buy a bottle of their sparkling as well, and I'm so excited to break into it for a special occasion!

So, that was our weekend in a nutshell. And if you want to know what we got for next year...we choose an amazing pinot from Demetria. If you know us at all, you know that Robert and I aren't big pinot noir fans, so this is definitely a surprise. This year, for our third anniversary, we drank a bottle of Carhartt syrah (big and heavy and very "California-y"), so it's going to be fun to try something new next year!

Have you ever been to Los Olivos? If so, what are your favorite places?

7.22.2013

{three years}

I can't believe it's been three years since I walked down the aisle. Three years since I put on that white dress with the blue shoes. Three years since we were called Mr. and Mrs. for the first time. 
I love you Robert Duff. Thank you for letting me be your wife.

7.21.2013

{monday's mantra}

Hope you all had a great weekend! My weekend feels like it just started though, since Robert and I just made the trip up to Los Olivos to do a little wine tasting. We're staying up there this time, and actually hired a driver to take us around. That's definitely something we like to splurge on every once in a while, so we can both drink and just enjoy ourselves. 

As always, I wanted to share a little something with all of you that's motivating me this week. As soon as I saw this quote, I knew I needed to use for today's mantra. It may not always be the best way to do things, but it definitely forces you to get things done, even if you don't know how to get it done. I never would have gotten where I am if I didn't start saying yes, and taking a chance!
And just like last week, I made this week's mantra into desktop and Iphone wallpapers for you! Hope you all enjoy!

7.19.2013

{five things}

What a crazy, amazing week it has been, let me tell you. I feel like I'm on a roller coaster of emotions these days (you have no idea), but there's always this baseline sense of peace that I have. Does that make sense? Things get really stressful sometimes with all of my clients and work and emails, but underneath it all is just an overall sense of satisfaction. It's definitely a new feeling, since I've always had this desire to change my life or move forward in a way. Right now I'm just...happy. It's kind of wonderful. 

Anyway, I'm rambling (again). I didn't have much time this week to read much on the internets, so I don't actually have five things for you today. That being said, here's a fun photo that I just got back from Anna Delores Photography of A Charming Occasion's team! I can't wait to introduce you all to Jaime, so keep an eye out soon for more photos!
Hope you all have a wonderful weekend, and I will see you all on Monday! Or, if you'd like, you're always welcome to follow me on Instagram to keep up with my life. As exciting as it is...

7.18.2013

{vc wedding artists}

You all know that I've been sharing a studio space with some amazing vendors for these past few months, and on Tuesday, we officially launched! We invited some of our closest friends and family to celebrate this huge accomplishment with us. There was lots of food and sweets and wine and photos (of course). I have plenty to show and share with you, but I wanted to just share one for now. It pretty much sums up the entire night. 

It's still kind of crazy to me that this is my life. This is my work, this is my passion. I'm truly thankful, everyday, for this amazing opportunity.

7.17.2013

{on repeat: the blessed unrest}

Guys, I just can't get enough. It's just as amazing as I thought it would be.

I may love Taylor Swift more than anything, but Sara Bareilles comes in at a very close second.
Have you listened yet? What do you think?

7.16.2013

{casa de evidente on a beautiful mess}

I have something really fun and exciting to share with all of you today! I'm sure I've mentioned to all of you how much I absolutely adore Kat and Leo Evidente's home, and it seems that I'm not alone. These amazing photographers just happen to be good friends of my husband and I, and they live right down the street from us. We've taken advantage of both their friendship and hospitality on multiple occasions by hosting get-togethers in their fun backyard and singing karaoke in their living room. 

That's why I was so excited to see their home featured on A Beautiful Mess recently! They have a very minimal, mid-century aesthetic, but in a way that's neither stuffy nor too cold. Their home is one of the most welcoming places I've ever been (our very first meeting took place in their living room), and I am so thankful that they are willing to share it with anyone who wants to stop by (I promise - just ask them!). Check out their photos below, and you can see the full feature on A Beautiful Mess!
Oh, and P.S...Kat has a new blog! She is such a sweetheart, so you have to stop by and say hello!

7.15.2013

{color me lovely v.2}

I've been spending way too much time on Pinterest, but what else is new. Actually, I need to amend that statement; I've been spending too much time pinning things onto Pinterest, since I prefer to pin from the original source. This is definitely a good problem to have, I suppose. I didn't have Pinterest when I got married, so I'm making up for it now...

That being said, I saw this the other day, and I wanted to share it with all of you. How adorable are these bicycles? I used to have one, but I never rode it. These pretty mint and coral beach cruisers make me want to go buy a new one!

7.14.2013

{monday's mantra}

Why does the weekend always have to go by so quickly? I love doing weddings on Friday nights, because I still feel like I have my weekend to myself, but these past two days have gone by way too fast. This week is a busy one, and we are hosting a mini launch party for our studio on Tuesday. It'll be fun, but I have about a thousand things to do before then. On the upside, I'm feeling a little bit better these days in general, and I've taken a lot of time to think about this blog. I love it here. It's my safe space, and even though I've been feeling weird about it lately, it's important to me that I keep going. I have some fun things planned, things that inspire me and make me happy, which I just want to share with you. I'm looking forward to it!
This week I actually got to making my mantra into desktop and iPhone wallpapers for you! You can click below to download them for yourselves. 

What's your mantra this week?

7.12.2013

{five things + a winner}

Happy Friday all! Hope you have some exciting plans for your weekend. I have a wedding at the beautiful Montecito Country Club today, and have a weekend packed full of parties and photo shoots...it's going to be a busy one! Needless to say, I'm popping in real quick to share a few things with you and to let you know that I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!
I couldn't help myself, I just had to share one photo from a shoot I did back in May with Lavender and Twine and These Buds a Blooming. Can't wait to share all of the photos with you soon!

Anyway, here are five links for your weekend:

1 // An interesting look at what one dad learned from his daughter's wedding

2 // I've always known I need to learn better self control, but I just can't help it. I love Taco Bell way too much...

3 // If you're in the industry, a look at the ethics of commissions and kickbacks

4 // For those of you overwhelmed by the sheer number of wedding blogs and boards on Pinterest, maybe you should think about following me! I almost always pin directly from the original source, which means that I spend (probably too much) time on every wedding blog out there. You're welcome!

5 // I tell my clients not to worry about the colors. Here's why.

Oh, and I never announced the winner of my Kate Spade giveaway...so, congratulations to Julie Kuberski! Email me with your information, and I'll get you your gift card ASAP.

7.11.2013

{a summer vineyard wedding}

Every once in a while, a wedding comes around that is truly something special. While I love the details, of course, it can be refreshing to see a couple who honestly just want to get married, whose primary focus is their love and their guests. Tammy and Will's wedding was just that. They wanted good food, good wine, and to just say "I do." I'm so excited to share this beautiful wedding with all of you today, shot by one of my favorite photographers, Leo Evidente Photographers
photography :: leo evidente photographers // flowers :: renae's bouquet // ceremony venue :: stolpman vineyards // reception venue :: the ballard inn

7.10.2013

{anniversary wishlist + thoughts}

Robert and I will be celebrating our third anniversary in two weeks, and I'm more than a little excited to break out our bottle of wine from last year and make a trip to In N Out. Not only that, but our trip up to wine country this year includes one of the most adorable little inns. I'm dreaming of falling asleep next to the fire place and waking up to freshly made chocolate chip cookies on my pillow.

Anyway, I've already told Robert what I would really love for our anniversary, though I'm obviously happy about just getting to spend time together. A new necklace wouldn't hurt either...
blouse :: madwell // necklace :: kate spade // purse :: valentino

So, now onto my "thoughts." It's no secret that I struggle with the feminist vs. anti-feminist vs. I-just-want-to-be-a-woman-with-choice battle that's going on in 2013. In the wedding industry, there are a lot of people who like to debate things like, should you change your name when you get married? When is the best age to get married? How traditional marriage in the 21st century is detrimental to feminism and the progress of today's modern woman, yada yada yada. A publication that I respect (on occasion) recently declined to publish a post that I wrote on why it just doesn't matter. I fully believe that at the core of feminism is woman's right to make her own decisions in life, regardless of what that decision is. If a woman is fully informed of her choices, the consequence of her choices should only matter to her. Here is a little snippet of what I wrote regarding the name change debate:
I changed my last name when I got married. Not that I need to give an explanation for it, but I was twenty three at the time, so I had no true professional attachment to my maiden name, other than what it says on my college diploma. I’m not close to my father, though I am close to my father’s family and my younger brother shares my maiden name. I was raised by a single mother whom I’ve never shared a name with, and even she has changed her name now to my stepfather’s last name. 
My husband, on the other hand, got his last name from his mother, who has also now taken her husband’s last name. There is nobody else in his family that we know of who shares our last name. It’s as if we took his mother’s last name, and created an entirely new family name with it. But again, not that I owe any of you an explanation for why I chose to change my own last name. 
I’ve been seeing so many articles and posts around the internets lately with differing reasons as to why a woman should or shouldn’t, or did or didn’t, change her last name when she got married. The point of me writing this, at this time, is to say…does it matter? True, there are plenty of other things that should be discussed when it comes to changing your name after marriage. Why can’t your husband take your last name? If you do choose to keep your maiden name, why should your children have to take his last name? There are plenty of alternatives to taking on your husband’s last name as well. You can choose to hyphenate, or even come up with an entirely new name. 
But a nameless, faceless woman on the internet judging another woman for choosing to take a man’s last name is just as bad as a mother-in-law judging her new daughter-in-law for not taking her husband’s last name. Regardless of a woman’s decision, even if she’s trying to battle the patriarchy by keeping her maiden name, it’s still patriarchy that keeps the tradition of surnames going. What’s a woman’s choice? The name of her husband or her father? Let’s stop pretending that the decision is an easy one; that there is one right answer, and just support one another. 
So if I want to wear a Mrs. necklace because it's pretty and I like being called a Mrs., then I should have that right. Part of my identity is being linked to my husband; that's part of marriage, I think. I'm just tired of all these posts and articles arguing one way or the other. I'm happily married, and I don't need to prove myself or defend my choices to anyone, end of story. And end of rant. 

What are your thoughts on the name change debate? And do you think it's possible to "keep your identity" when becoming a Mrs.?

7.08.2013

{at the moment v.5}

Guess what? I survived Monday! I was scared there for a while, but it turned out to be not too terrible. I attribute it to a great phone call with one of my favorite clients, two particularly good cups of coffee, and Trader Joe's cheddar bacon ranch dip. It's been a while since I've done one of these, but I figured it was time to share a few things that I'm up to these days.
I got this photo recently from a photographer who took it at one of my weddings. I rarely get photos of myself in action, so it made me happy.

At the moment, I'm...

1 // watching :: SCANDAL. GUYS, I KNOW I'M LATE TO THIS GAME, BUT I CAN'T HANDLE THIS SHOW. WHEN HAVE YOU EVER SEEN ME WRITE IN ALL CAPS? THAT'S BECAUSE THIS SHOW...THIS SHOW.

2 // drinking :: this cocktail. I mean, right now, as I'm writing this, I'm drinking a delicious Sauvignon Blanc, but I've been drinking this. Even my best friend, who rarely drinks (especially before noon) asked for it when she came over for breakfast recently. 

3 // planning :: not one, but TWO vacations before the end of the month. Do you know how exciting that is?

And that's all for now. I need to get back to Scandal. Hope you all have a good week!

{monday's mantra}

Hey friends, hope you all had a fab four day weekend! I was pretty lazy around these parts, but I'm not feeling all that great about it now. Do you ever get like that? Like, you know you deserve some time off, but when you finally take it, you kind of just feel shitty about yourself? I guess it's just time for some twelve hour work days around here, prepping for a wedding on Friday and two weddings at the beginning of August. I'm also working on rearranging a few projects around here, to make room for life, and just being...happier? More productive? Less anxious? All of the above?

Anyway, here's my mantra this week, and it couldn't come at a better time. I'm feeling so strange these days, and I really need to remember that life is not a problem. It's my personal experience, and I need to value that experience, even if it isn't always pleasant. It's the difficult days that make us stronger, and that let us appreciate the good days. So, here are to a few good days this week. 
quote by Soren Kierkegaard

What's your mantra this week?

7.02.2013

{a diy museum wedding}

Way back in May (it really does feel like so long ago now) I had the wonderful opportunity to watch Whitney and Andrew marry at the gorgeous Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History. I have to admit, I was a little skeptical when I heard that the bride was planning on DIYing almost everything (including the flowers), but the day couldn't have been more beautiful. This fun loving couple was the epitome of laid back, and truly just wanted to get married that day. There were no melt downs or emergencies, just lots of smiles. Oh, and any couple who decides that their midnight snack should be soft pretzels deserves an automatic win in my book. 
Congratulations to Whitney and Andrew, and I truly do wish you all the best in the world!