Friends, Romans, countrymen—lend me your ears. I have a confession to make to the interwebs. I am sure you have heard of my upcoming nuptials, and with the recent release of the wedding date (March 2nd!) many a rumor have passed through gossiping lips. Half-hearted congratulations have been delivered to my step. And my belly has become the (uncomfortable) object of furtive, stolen glances. So let me put to rest any unsettling thoughts before this whole fiasco gets out of hand:
I am not pregnant.
In fact, I am so not pregnant that I’ve lost a lot of weight… My muscle has been slowly deteriorating with the lack of exercise (see: my shoulder/back injury). But other than that, I am still flying solo—no babies on deck— and I am as healthy as a pickle.
We are having a short engagement because we want a short engagement.
The truth of the matter is that Andrew and I have discussed our potential marriage since late last July (yes, for those of you counting, we were at the 9 month mark). Obviously when the initial conversations began, we didn’t want to rush into anything. New-ish/all relationships are tricky to navigate. We had toyed with the idea of getting married once I graduated— even if we put off the official engagement. We knew that we wanted to keep it short because A) why would we want to wait to get married if we knew it was already going to happen, B) why would we need the average ~14 months to plan a party, and C) The idea of sitting around a table and laboring over color schemes and party favors and hors d’oeuvres just wasn’t our style. We wanted to keep everything as simple and as authentic to us as possible. Our timeframe has shifted a little bit due to some recent (non-pregnancy related) developments, but otherwise, we have stayed mostly true to our original plan. 9 weeks to throw together a wedding wasn’t exactly what either of us had in mind, but it’s working out just fine. I feel like the authenticity is still present, and that our wedding will be quite indicative of our relationship with each other, and with God. We are spending this limbo-period trying to really focus on the upcoming marriage, and not the wedding.
And that’s pretty cool. It’s very “us.”
While I have your attention, I would like to get all wedding-related topics out of the way. I just need to go into a side note about the “proposal.” I don’t really know how to respond to people when they ask for the “deets” or the “full story,” because there really wasn’t one. Andrew and I were sitting at his parent’s kitchen table, discussing how it seemed like the appropriate time to really get down to wedding planning and… voila. It was “official.” There was no flash mob, no engagement ring, no sparklers and confetti and cupcakes. It was simply us, the soft murmur of the TV playing in the next room, the cooling tea in our hands, and our two dogs at our feet. And I was overwhelmed with joy anyway.
I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy a good, romantic “guy-meets-girl, guy-surprises-girl, guy-drops-down-on-one-knee, everyone lives happily ever after” tale, but when it comes down to the nitty-gritty, it’s just not me. The feminist, hyper-pragmatic side of me gags at the thought of having five seconds to decide about with whom I want to spend the rest of my life. How does it even make sense that the guy gets months to contemplate this life-altering decision, and the girl just kind of goes along for the ride? I would die if the issue hadn’t been discussed in an in-depth, serious manner beforehand. How could we (as a couple) enter that kind of commitment without copious amounts of prayer and contemplation from the start? How in the world would a simple inkling that he was going to propose be enough for me? Hint: it would never have been. No thanks.
The presentation of the ring (two weeks late) didn’t have much fanfare either. We had just finished meeting with our marriage mentors over lunch, and he slipped the ring onto his pinky while I was trying to unlock my bike. I caught a glimpse of it sparkling in the corner of my eye, and basically demanded that he hand it over before I left to go take care of some Longhorn Open business. I was running somewhat late, and I knew that the ring was coming that day in the mail anyway so… I was happy, but a little less than surprised.
And while I’m on a roll, disappointing my wonderful readers, and crushing all the hopes of those wishing to live vicariously through me, I am going to go ahead and announce that my ring isn’t a diamond either—my stone is actually moissanite.
Now before all the ladies raise their pitchforks about how Andrew is a cheapskate (lol), I have to clarify some things:
A) Love (noun) is not measured in dollar bills, and I take issue with the idea that the size/type of the rock has anything to do with the love (verb) that will be exchanged between us. And B) I spent about a month deciding if I even wanted a ring. First off, did I want thousands of dollars condensed into a hunk of metal and a rock? What would this say about me? This was especially troubling, given that my idea of jewelry is a couple of hair bands, a simple necklace that I never take off, and a dilapidated sport watch that I’m refusing to throw away. Secondly, did I really want to play into the whole notion that “diamonds are rare and fabulous?” And if I did, how did I feel about the ethics that came into play with the blood diamond trade? How sure would I be sure that the diamond was mined where the certificate said it was mined? And thirdly, did I want a symbol of patriarchy wrapped around my finger? Did you know that the original ‘betrothal ring’ was more of a promise to the father? It signified that, “oh hey, I’ve spent so much money on this ring on your daughter’s finger that I’ve got to come back and claim this investment!” And—holy snickerdoodles— why in the world is the girl the only one that has to display her marital status on her finger during this limbo time?
If you really wanted to get into this discussion with me, send me a message and I’ll get back to you. I could talk your ear off about this stuff.
Anyway, the side of me that likes to play into societal norms decided that I did want some symbol of our engagement. I mean, I do like sparkly things once in a while. So off I went on a hunt for the perfect ring. And, uh, Andrew helped.
And I love it. It’s simple and clean and understated. It’s a pretty, classic setting with a modern twist. Its low profile means I can’t get it caught on anything (which was a must, considering how hard I am on my hands). It’s not gold, and it’s not a diamond, but the stone is just as hard (and sparkly and fiery and awesome) and the metal is much more durable (palladium, for anyone interested). Our engagement is short enough that being the only person in this pair with the relationship status on her finger doesn’t matter too much. We didn’t spend thousands of dollars on the ring. And, for goodness sake, I didn’t get the ring until weeks after the start date of our engagement. But it—like the rest of this whole charade—has been authentic. Every part of the planning process—from the engagement, to the announcement, to the ring—has been as thought out as we could possibly make it. It’s been very me, and it’s been very Andrew. It’s very us. Just the way I like it.
(Just for the record, I am not judging anyone for having diamonds, or gold, or having the biggest rock on the block. I would be lying if I said I didn’t drool once in a while over a nice halo diamond ring, complete with all the filagree, tracery, and micropave bands. This post is about authenticity, and having that kind of ring on my finger would make me feel like I was playing dress up. I’m a t-shirt and shorts kinda gal, you know? Also, if you got/want all the bells and whistles at your proposal, more power to you. Again, I just hope that it was/is something true to you. I’m just tired of the pitying glances and the half-hearted congratulations. If you’re happy, then I’m happy. If I’m happy, I hope you’re happy too! If all else fails, I hope my ramblings have created a spark of interest in examining yourself, and what authenticity means to you. Be true to your heart.)
My TEDxWomen talk is online and sharable! I spoke about sexist online harassment and internet cyber mobs in Washington DC on December 1st.
Note: The TEDx YouTube channel does not moderated comments so do yourself a favor and skip them.
I am SO EXCITED that Anita did a Ted Talk about what happened earlier this year. I hung out with her a few months ago seeking some guidance. She is super fierce, intelligent, brave, and incredibly sweet. Check out the vid (and her YouTube show, Fem Frequency). Great stuff.
" I believe in the power of text. I believe stories make us feel less lonely, and that stories can make us find more empathy towards other people and identify with their lives. I find, and I’m pretty sure it’s the same with most human beings, that it’s very hard to truly, deeply identify with other people’s lives that are completely different from me and my life. When I read literature, I manage to grasp that my world is not the only world, and that my life is not the only life that exists. "
Hello. My name is Nicole, and I am 22 years old today. I have (technically) been running this blog since I graduated high school, documenting the bits of my life I feel are important or noteworthy. That is three-and-a-half-ish years worth of life condensed into one tiny corner of the internet. And you would think that the space between a 19-year-old college freshman and a 22-year-old senior would bring forth a new adult (along with a new perspective on life and wisdom)… But really, I just feel old. And not wise at all.
Which, on one hand, is cool—because I get to use this super fun, relevant gif from the movie An Education. And on the other hand, it’s disappointing. I feel like my collective wisdom is disproportionate to the weight of the age dripping from my body. The past few weeks I have been ticking the days off, waiting for the impending arrival of my birthday that signals the survival of yet another year of life. It used to be exciting, you know. I’d stay awake till midnight, watching as the clock flipped to the magic number that meant I was officially ___ years old. I would will myself to sleep despite my nervous fit of excitement, only to wake up and inspect my body more thoroughly under the light of day. What changed? Did I feel different? Wasn’t I supposed to feel different at 10? I had hit the double digits after all. Or maybe 13? I was a teenager! 18! Was I not an adult?
And throughout that time, I would be looking ahead with wonder. At 10 years old, I’d be gushing, “Oh my gosh, they’re 16?! I bet they can drive. High school must be so cool.” At 18, I’d repeat, “My cousin is 27 now. So old! He must have it all figured out.” And I think I was perceiving people as so old because their lives were—are—so foreign to me. The role models I would admire represented a life of things that I didn’t, or couldn’t have— or even imagine having. From drivers licenses to bills and jobs, I never believed I would ever hit the milestones that signaled the dawn of a new era in my life. And for whatever reason, I believed these points in life— these little rites of passage—would suddenly make me feel wiser and more mature.
People become so fixated on age because popular culture pressures us to feel a certain way at 14, at 22, at 27. So we make up these invisible deadlines for our accomplishments, careers, and love lives. I need to have my first kiss by 16 (I failed that one horribly). I’m going to learn to stop procrastinating when I make it to college (HA!). I’ve got to be a doctor, published author, and world-renowned chef at 26 (on track to lose this race too). And we guilt ourselves when we don’t reach these goals, when we make mistakes, or when we do not act the age we have assigned ourselves. Let’s be honest, thanks to Facebook, Youtube, my inability to say no, and my procrastinating soul, I calculate that I’m at least seven years off schedule from feeling 22. And I panic every time I realize how far behind I feel like I am. Am I not too old for all this?
It is only when I look at those younger than me that I feel like there has been any growth at all. I can look at my little brother and dismiss something as “so-very-19-year-old-of-him.” I can laugh at my little cousin on twitter because she can be so… young. And for whatever reason, I’d like to believe I wasn’t quite as immature as her at that age. But then I realize that—holy smackerolls—I was 14 once. I was 14, and as much as I’d like to deny it, I didn’t feel anything like I do now.
Yes, we grow. And it happens so subtly that we don’t even notice. People change constantly, minute to minute, day to day. The differences are so minuscule and so imperceptible that we fail to see that we are growing. We live our lives without tracking exact changes. We don’t sit down every night, peeling back every layer of the day that has made us different from who we were that morning. There is no one “ta-da” moment, as disappointing as that is, where we suddenly “feel” the age we have built up in our heads.
And if we focus too much on trying to feel a certain age, we lose precious time that we could use growing. Growth and change are necessary parts of life. And my lack of perceived wisdom is what pushes me to keep going, to seek new challenges, and to learn new things that would never occur to me if I was arrogant enough to believe I was wise enough for my age.
And as far as feeling old… Well.
Old is not a number. Old is when you give up. Old is when you refuse to change. Old is believing the world is stagnant. Old is when you forget that the world is beautiful and full of inspiration.
So I guess I recant my original statement.
I choose not to feel old. And I’m fine with not being wise.
Happy birthday to me (and my twin, Abe!). May this coming year prove to be the best yet.
I’ve managed to make it quite a long time without pouring cheese all over you nachos, but I can’t help myself today. Why, you ask? Because today marks my one year anniversary with this handsome fellow!
Yes! You heard that right. One whole year! And what a lucky girl I am.
I’m currently writing this post a couple weeks before schedule because at the time this is published, I will be away from my computer (!!) camping (!!!) out in the wilderness (!!!!) and doing other date-y type things with the aforementioned young man. Andrew probably won’t read this until we’ve gone our separate ways— but I know he will, because even though he hates to admit that he stalks me on the regular, I TOTALLY KNOW HE DOES*. So all non-Andrew Harbert readers, please excuse me for a couple seconds, okay?
Hey ANDREW, I love ya, kid. I know that I can be a little too hyperactive, super mean, a tad bit crazy, and only sometimes nice ;) but I hope you know that every moment I’m with you, I’m always super thankful that God has put you in my life. I don’t think you realize what kind of inspiration you provide for the people around you— me included. And if I had any less self control, all of my blog posts would probably be [mostly good things] about you.
Happy one year. And here’s to many more!
*I’m totally joking, Andrew Harbert does not stalk me. But he does keep up really well with my social media outlets.
Under normal circumstances, I hate asking for gifts/specifying what I have on my mental “I-want-that!” list. But inevitably, every year, a few people ask what I’d like for my birthday.
This year, I ask that you take that money and donate it to this chip-in fundraiser. The German Shepherd Rescue of Central Texas needs to raise money for one of their rescued pups.
For those of you who are not up-to-date on my life, the boyfriend just adopted a sweet little girl from the GSDRCTX this past May.
She was found under an abandoned house with a tiny little puppy, and had to be live-trapped to be treated. She went into the rescue in a very submissive state, and would almost never keep her ears up.
Nevertheless, they took care of her. They found out she had heartworms, and paid for her expensive treatment. They did their best to socialize her in the short time they had. And lastly,
they went through a rather rigorous adoption process to make sure that she went home with the right family. Obviously Andrew (and I) couldn’t be any happier with how sweet she has turned out, even when she’s being a little turd.
Anyway, I just want to give back to the rescue that has enriched our lives so much. They do wonderful work for these beautiful animals, and it breaks my heart to hear that one of their newest dogs needs a (very) expensive surgery. Even with the doctor’s discount, there isn’t quite enough money to cover the treatment.
For the month of October, I’ll be leaving the chip-in widget in my sidebar in the hopes that you reconsider whatever frivolous (but well meaning) gift you were planning to get. Even $1 is a huge gift in my eyes.
So here’s the link one more time. They have a description of the surgery that is needed, plus more adorable pictures of Nadine, the pup who needs the treatment.
And if you weren’t going to get me a gift, I hope you enjoyed the pictures of Kiya. Ain’t she soooooooooooooo cute?!
I have seen this image re-posted, re-pinned, and re-blogged on pretty much every social media website known to man. The latest had a caption stating that “this is the way it should be!”
And while I appreciate the sentiment that women should stop starving themselves and instead should start embracing their curves, I think this still sends the wrong message. The image depicted on the right is still shaming a woman’s body for looking a certain way and proposing a rather ludicrous solution to her “skinniness.” And don’t get me started on the fact that the lady on the right is still skinny…
I am of the mind that the body will look the way it wants to look when you treat it correctly. Going to extreme measures to push it one way or another is unhealthy. Steroids, get-skinny-quick(ly) pills and programs, etc. are unnecessary and unhealthy ways to get your body into its “natural” state.
Everyone (not just women!) should be comfortable in their own skin— but it’s near impossible when there are outside forces imposing body shame! Looking at another person and immediately imposing negative judgement because of their weight is a horrible mindset, but it’s a mindset that people encounter all the time. As a society, we tend to focus on shaming the fat and obese, and we immediately label them as “lazy” and “unfocused.” But how do you know how their body is reacting? How do you know that they are lazy? And why do we stare with accusatory eye when people proclaim that they are working toward bettering themselves? I have a friend who has been feeling self-conscious as she prepares for her first 5K because she does not have the ideal skinny frame that is so prevalent among runners. She fears that people are laughing at her— scoffing at her attempts. I rather vehemently replied that everyone has to start somewhere— and anyone who feels self-righteous and entitled because of their own “fitness” need to shove off. I can do nothing but applaud people who are taking steps to a healthier lifestyle.
But it is just not the overweight who face the evils of body shaming. Society also shames those who are skinny— those who are thin because of genetics, and those who are thin through abnormal means. There are women who are accused of being overly narcissistic, and must be starving themselves to fit the current idea of beauty. This, my friends, is still promoting poor body image issues. I, for one, used to feel torn between proud of my naturally slim figure, and self-conscious because I could not gain weight. I was a skeleton. I was short and skinny and I couldn’t fill out clothes quite like my counterparts could. And people would make snarky comments about being anorexic. How is that acceptable? That’s belittling people who truly are suffering from eating disorders.
Now, as far as anorexia goes, there are two camps: those who are pro-ana and those who think it is absolutely disgusting. Neither of these mindsets are correct in the slightest. Anorexia is a disease much like any other addiction— and we should not be perpetuating the idea that it okay to alienate those suffering from this ailment. Yes, in its milder states it is harder to spot an anorexic person than an obese individual, but it does not make it any less important. You cannot simply tell someone to “stop.” We should be encouraging them to seek help and treatment in the same way we should be encouraging those in the unhealthy upper ranges of weight to be seeking help, and yes— treatment.
Having the “fat” and “skinny” camps argue about who is suffering more is taking ten billion steps in the wrong direction. Though the spotlight will tend to land on one side or the other given any particular day, it in no way underscores the troubles each individual person is encountering.
Everyone needs to work toward a better, body positive mindset. Accept who you are. Accept your curves, or your booblessness, or your big feet, or your frizzy hair. Accept yourself. You are not going to look like your neighbor, or your best friend, or the airbrushed supermodel on your favorite magazine. You will look the way your body wants to look.
That being said, we do have a responsibility to maintain our bodies. We cannot expect our bodies to function efficiently if we continue to stuff ourselves with empty, meaningless calories. Nor can we expect it to continue to operate if we deprive ourselves of the food that gives us energy. Everyoneshould—regardless of weight— be treating their bodies with the respect it deserves. After all, we only get one body in this lifetime. We treat our cars with better maintenance than we do our bodies, and cars are transient objects in our lives!
I encourage everyone to evaluate their lifestyles and see if they are doing even the bare minimum to keep their bodies in check. There are plenty of foods that are delicious and healthy. Plenty of naturally sugary fruits to satisfy your sweet tooth. And there are plenty of ways to exercise that are fun!If running isn’t your cup of tea, how does swimming suit you? Or team sports? Or solo sports, for goodness sake— not every single one requires a ton of coordination. Or how about just long walks with your hyperactive dog?
Being healthy is not the restrictive lifestyle some make it out to be. It can be freeing in many ways. I could go on and on about the all benefits that exercise provides but… I think I’ve said enough for today.