A “Sista Circle”, do you have or know how to build one?

Sister Circle

Saturday, I had a funeral for one of my favorite wigs. The death of my brown bob with the blonde highlights, came as an unexpected emotional blow. I screamed out “This isn’t about you” and “You’ve always been there for me” as it was stuffed into a plastic grocery bag. But on the bright side, I gained a new perspective on the need to have female support to help you through the large and small changes in your life. This can become secondary, if you have a strong support system at home in your husband along with close friends, or if you are so independent you typically feel you don’t need to be supported.  I have been natural for 2 years and decided to get dreadlocks in my hair a month ago, but I still had been holding on to my security blanket, a.k.a. my wig. Never truly knowing when would be the best time for me reveal my new “do”, and relinquish the control I need to have to always feel neat, predictable, and presentable at every moment that wearing wigs allow me to do.

I am so grateful, that one of my closest friends (Ali) asked me to go with her to visit an old co- worker of hers this past weekend. It ended up being life changing. We were in the company of an awesome group of women, most of them I had never meant before, but they gave me the necessary push and confidence I needed to stop hiding under my hair. It was so refreshing to be around people that were not judging each other, comparing themselves to one another, but only wanted to uplift each other.

Even though we were all practically strangers, we were willing to freely give out positivity. We didn’t have the same backgrounds and struggles, weren’t all the same ethnicities, or even the same age groups. But what we all had in common was that we were open to learning from and sharing with each other, so we could all move forward in whatever area we desired. Whether it was motherhood, dating, or even being bold enough to wear a new hairstyle, there was no right or wrong issue. It was female bonding at its cheesiest and I loved it; a mix between the happy moments in Waiting to Exhale and the Ya Ya Sisterhood.  It made me think about how much I need to start carving out time to make new relationships and to better cater to the old ones. Honestly, as I am transitioning in to the role of being someone’s wife, this hasn’t even made it on the list of things to do.

What I have learned the most from this amazing weekend is how important it is to be surrounded by like-minded people, and exactly what that means. I used to think that the term meant having the same opinions, perspectives, and even comparable occupations. But now, I know that being like-minded in spirit means much more than superficial similarities. Being around these women made me want more of the energy and support I received from them, and also want to give more of mine. It is easy for us to accept the current relationships that we have and make do, or go about our daily routines with our guards up, and unwilling or unable to share our dreams and personal trials. You can leave it up to chance to meet the kind of people that could add so much to your life, but why wait when you could begin to have more of those fulfilling relationships now.

A task I am giving to myself and I hope you do as well is to begin the expansion of my “Sista Circle”. This is not meant for the typical networking so I can get a client or learn about the “who’s who” in my city. This is for genuine support, and if business relationships happen afterwards that is fine. The best tip and a great start in doing this is being open to making friendships with all kinds of people, don’t limit yourself. In 2014, you would think that this doesn’t have to be said, but it is easy for all of us to stay in our comfort zones. Take a chance and venture out, you never know who will accept, reject, or give you the advantage that will take your life to the next level.

I hope I have added positively to your perspective in fostering new female relationships.

Remember…. Stay a Busy Bee and Share with a Bride to Be

Rachel Bryant Lundy

The Debate over Eloping…. Are you being Smart or Chicken?

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Planning a wedding is not for the faint of heart, so it’s no wonder that deciding to move forward with this endeavor, at times seems to momentarily bring more pressure than the thought of being married to one person forever. During my wedding planning process, there was no shortage of people that wanted to share with me their own stories of how they decided to celebrate their nuptials. Much of what we expect to see at a wedding is predictable, but what surprised me was that each wedding I heard about was unique to the couple. From the women that told me about their many bridesmaids or lack of, to the men that were eager to brag about how complicated and expensive theirs was not. However, what was not surprising was that each story matched the personality of the person that was telling it. Everything that they said happened was totally believable. Listening to them gave me the confidence I needed to think I could have the best of both worlds. Suddenly I was up for the challenge of creating a fabulous, yet debt free wedding.

 I am without a doubt very different as a grown up than I expected to be as a child.  I remember being around age 11 and completely against any thing pink, laced, or with flowers. I never would have thought the 30 year old Rachel stands for all things pink, lace, and adores flowers- sell out. Hence, the 30 year old Rachel’s personality mostly dictated the theme of my wedding.

 There were plenty of times that I felt like calling it off and running away with my now husband, but I would manage to convince myself that it was too late, and I was in too deep. Despite the money we had already spent, at times it wasn’t enough for me to commit to pulling off the event. But, it was my husband saying he really wanted to see me walk down the aisle in my wedding dress that made me get over my anxious feelings about my big day.

 Ultimately, I am glad I had a traditional wedding but 8 months afterwards, I think I am still recovering from it. Having it was a wonderful gift to give to my mother, other family members, and friends. As much as you may not want it to be about other people, once you see everyone there just for you, they matter more than you thought. On the other hand, I am fully convinced my husband and I would have been just as in love with each other had we eloped. With that in mind, I feel there is no wrong or right way to get married.

 To make the decision about whether to elope or not try asking your self the following questions:

  •  Do you need people around to share this experience with you? There is no right or wrong answer to this question. If there are any feelings of guilt you may have after you answer, immediately talk yourself out of them.
  •  Are you ready to get married but not financially ready to have the wedding you want? If this is the case, choose love and hold out for the wedding and honey moon of your dreams later. It isn’t the 1980’s where if people didn’t have a wedding right away, they never get around to it. These days people are more financially savvy and make better choices for their future.
  •  Is the Wedding for you and your soon to be spouse or for other people? As much as we all like to make the one’s we care about happy, your feelings are what matter the most. You will be the one carrying the stress and paying off the bills. Make sure it is something that the both of you really want to do.

 I hope my suggestions helped with your decision of eloping or having a traditional wedding.

 Remember…Stay a Busy bee and Share with a Bride to Be

 Rachel Bryant Lundy

“ME” TIME…life sucks without it, so how do I get it?

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I don’t know about you but if Rachel doesn’t get to spend quality time with Rachel, she gets pretty cranky. As a result I suffer from chronic moodiness, impatience, and a lack of interest in most things I have to do. So, it’s obvious that keeping time to and with myself needs to be a priority. As a kindergartner, one of the requirements was that I bring a mat with me to participate in daily nap times. It didn’t matter if I couldn’t go to sleep, but just having some time to calm down, relax, and reflect on a picture I just  painted did wonders for my disposition. Since nap times were apart of most kindergarten classrooms, teachers must  have discovered that it helped keep the classroom day running smoothly while giving them a much needed break. Whenever a child is cranky, one of the first things someone says is “they must be sleepy”. If having time to ourselves and resting is so important when we are younger with barely any responsibilities, then why do we think it is less needed when we have more of them? “Me” time is a must.

Without having a spouse or children, finding time to relax can be daunting, because there are so many task that keep us preoccupied in our day until it’s time to go bed. Add a spouse and kids to that and it can seem almost impossible. I recently vowed that since life isn’t going to give me any more hours, I have no choice but to cheat the system and essentially “cheat my chores” to get the extra time I need. Simply put “cheating your chores” is figuring out a way to quickly get done the things you can’t get around, that will allow you to have more time to focus on yourself or the things you find important. You will have more time in the mornings and in the evenings to relax, exercise, read, create, or do whatever else adds to your personal happiness. Are you really going to wait until you have the extra cash to do a spa day or plan a vacation to relax? No, that’s crazy. You have to find a way to let the little moments you steal for yourself feel like the bigger ones.

To do this effectively, I also had to learn to make a schedule and stick to it. I find the easiest way to do this is to use the daily calendar on my phone that reminds me of every major and minor “to do” so I won’t forget. Time Management isn’t a practice that only the best students need to learn to master, but productive adults also need to use it to live their most fruitful life.  Being a creative person, I once rebelled against this kind of organization and felt it was too controlling. I now realize the anxiety and stress caused by disorganization and chaos isn’t worth it, and a poor alternative to the calmness and order that organization can bring.

This has been a huge challenge for me, because I certainly wasn’t raised this way. I can vividly remember a night before the first day of school, digging through unopened mail with my mother, searching for school issued bus cards that came over the summer. I remember thinking, “What if they don’t let me on the bus, am I gonna have to walk to school?”  I was already scared to death of the first day of class since I was entering the seventh grade, now my nerves were already shot before I got there. Just imagine how peaceful my night would have been if I already had my bus card packed away in my book bag. Instead of frantically looking for a school addressed envelope, I could have been in my bed sleeping peacefully or having “me” time.

Most of us dread having to do things immediately, letting procrastination trick us into thinking we are getting our “me” time now. Unfortunately, “me” time riddled with guilt because you know you should be taking care of other things is ultimately no fun at all. To increase your opportunities of having more time to spend with yourself while taking care of your responsibilities, try beginning the following :

  • First, iron your clothes for the upcoming work week in advance. Don’t just iron the night before for the next day, take an hour or two and iron for the entire work week. This gives you a much calmer morning because you’re not figuring out what to wear and hurrying to iron it. Your clothes also look much better when you are ironing them to look good until you wear them, instead of ironing them to hurry and put them on. I like finding a weekday night to do this so I am not performing this boring chore on the weekend. And, there is nothing like coming home trying to think of what to wear and remembering, it’s already done. Leaving room for “me” time.
  • Secondly, cook items that last for atleast two days or that you can get multiple meals out of so you’re not constantly thinking of what to make.  For example, if using ground beef or ground turkey some meals you could make together are spaghetti and meat balls, sloppy joe, tacos, meat loaf, or hamburgers. And, deciding to use left overs is not just cost effective , but there is nothing like the feeling of coming home trying to figure out what to cook, and remembering that dinner is already done. Leaving room for “me” time.
  • Thirdly, don’t under estimate what you can do in 10 or 15 minutes. It doesn’t take long to throw some clothes in the wash machine and dryer or do a quick mopping of a kitchen floor. Before you know it all of your laundry is done, freeing up more time for you to relax.
  • And lastly, take advantage of lunch breaks to spend time with yourself and clear your head by meditating or praying. If you have an hour, consider using 30 minutes to eat and the remainder to take a walk. If you have the option to eat at your desk while working, consider taking the full hour to walk. This way you are able to have “me” time and get in exercise.

I am sure there are other tricks you will learn on your own that will help you on your journey to finding more “me” time. But these simple ones have allowed me to enjoy my days so much more and I hope it will do the same for you.

Remember…. Stay a Busy Bee and share with a Bride to Be

Rachel Bryant Lundy

THE GROCERY GAMES….How to Survive Market Runs with your Spouse

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Shopper beware- I’ve learned that in healthy relationships, opposition has no choice but to show its ugly head at the strangest of places. A grocery store, as innocent and unassuming as it appears is the perfect breeding ground for preventable disputes. We recently experienced another unexpected snow storm here in Baltimore, and I had to think if it was worth going to the market before we got the worst of it. Markets can be an annoying place to end up in on a Sunday evening. Ultimately, we decided to go and it wasn’t that bad, but that was not by coincidence.

My husband and I  have always gotten along well, so when we were engaged and our personalities clashed in the grocery store, I had to figure out why. I mean it really urked me, to the point where I had to ask a married friend of mine if she and her husband went grocery shopping together.  She moved her eye glasses down to the middle of her nose, looked me square in the eyes, and said “NO”. And when I thought about it, I don’t have any memories of my parents grocery shopping together. But, I do have many of my father being frustrated and impatient while waiting in the car for my mother to come out of the store. Most of the time they made shopping trips on their own, and Lord help us if my little brothers and  I accompanied them. Let’s just say a lot of times we were left in the car, or found some way to remind our parents they should have left us there.

I realized our personalities clashed when going to the market because we both had different approaches to grocery shopping. I typically enter the market with a  peaceful “Hmmm what do I need in here” kind of vibe, whereas my husband is more “get it and go”. My approach left my husband to believe that I was clueless about what I needed to get, which was not true. While he made me think that he took grocery shopping way too seriously. I can only assume this may be where my mom and dad, and many other couples also differ.

Optimistically, I tried going shopping alone but that ended up being inconvenient because we were rarely not together. We enjoyed being with each other, even at the annoying grocery store. Plus, I’m totally hooked on not carrying any shopping bags. I have carried enough bags in my life, refusing the help of my sketchy neighbors, while making a million trips back and forth to my car, almost dropping everything.  Sure, I offer to help, but my husband doesn’t like me to. Of course I insist on it because it doesn’t take much to make me feel guilty, and he gives me the lightest bag-sweetie pie.

Nevertheless, practice makes perfect. Overtime, I’ve come to not absolutely dread shopping trips and you will too. With communicating to your spouse about the preferences of both of you, eventually you will get used to each others behavior. Also, the more you visit the market, the more familiar you will become with the ins and outs of your grocery store. You will remember where the items are you typically buy, and no longer feel like you are in a never ending maze. I expect our shopping trips to continually improve, but admittedly I am not ready to add a baby or another little person just yet.  I really hate it when I see a whole family at a market or a little kid with their own shopping cart, I just want to yell, “There’s no room for that people!”  Pray for me, maybe the Grinch will grow a heart….one day.

To make your grocery shopping experience more enjoyable, try doing the following:

  • First, make a  grocery list of the items you need and go over it together, so there are no major surprises about what you are buying when you get in the grocery store.
  • Secondly, leave room for “cheating”, from the list. For example,  if cookies are not on your list but you can afford to buy cookies, and your spouse has a sweet tooth, then buy them. It’s the little things that keep a home happy and it shows them that you care about what they like.
  • Thirdly, create and commit to a budget while shopping together. One person shouldn’t be responsible or the only one knowing what the budget is. Both should feel the anxiety of trying to stick to it and the joy of sticking to it. I love “hi -fiving” my husband  if we were able to stick to the budget or telling each other “not bad” if we went over some.
  • And lastly, let go of the shopping cart. If one person really likes to push it, let them. Don’t start caring all of a sudden because they do.

I hope I have helped make your future shopping trips more enjoyable.

Remember… Stay a Busy Bee and share with a Bride to Be

Rachel Bryant Lundy