Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Are you where you're supposed to be right now?

The first thing I said when my gentleman friend proposed in September was "yes."

OK, technically it was "hell, yes," followed by a combination of shrieking, sobbing, and laughing that sounded like the bellow of a water buffalo dragged behind a tractor.

In any case, the second thing I said was, "I'm not wearing shoes for this wedding."

Beyond expressing my fondness for naked feet, it was my way of conveying my desire for a simple, no-frills ceremony. Lucky for me, he shared my vision, if not my abhorrence for footwear.

My engagement ring, one of many not-so-traditional
aspects of our upcoming wedding. 
A few weeks later, I made the mistake of venturing into a bridal shop. Despite my explanation that I sought a simple, short, non-froofy, non-traditional dress, the attendant proceeded to thrust a mountain of tulle and lace at me until I fled the shop in terror. "Wait!" she called, clinging to my leg and scrambling to drag me back inside. "At least take this free wedding planning guide so you know how to get ready for your big day."

I brought it home and tossed it on the counter, not giving it much thought until I found my gentleman friend skimming it a few days later.

"Did you see this suggested timeline for wedding tasks?" he asked.

"Not unless it's on a page with pictures of food or naked people."

He grinned. "With only eleven months to go, we should have already booked a caterer, hired a florist, gotten your hair and nails done, and packed for our honeymoon."

He might have been exaggerating, but not by much. Since this will be a tuxedo-free, florist-free, caterer-free affair with attendants who still have a bedtime, we weren't terribly alarmed by the industry-prescribed schedule. As the date of our September nuptials has drawn nearer, we've taken to reminding each other of pressing tasks.

"Nine months to go," I declared in December. "Shouldn't we go pick up my bridal bouquet?"

"Eight months left," he announced in January. "We should probably be on our way to the airport for the honeymoon."

"Seven months left," I said in February. "Where's that top tier of the wedding cake we're supposed to pull from the freezer on our first anniversary?"

While the humor of it amuses me, it also reminds me of a slightly less amusing aspect of the publishing world. In the ten or so years since I first tried my hand at writing fiction, not a month has gone buy that I haven't heard the niggling little voice in the back of my head. The writers among you will know that voice, though yours may be somewhat less prone to dirty talk than mine.

"You've been writing a long time," the voice will his in my ear. "You should have landed a book deal by now." 

"Three months until your novel comes out and you still don't have a marketing plan?"

"You've published half-a-dozen books. Shouldn't you have hit the New York Times bestseller list by now?"

The voice has dogged me for decades, and not just when it comes to my writing career. In nearly every aspect of my life, stress can send me stumbling down the coulda-shoulda-woulda path of self-doubt and unhealthy comparison.

"You should have a much bigger retirement account by now."

"You've been doing yoga six years and still can't do side-crow without toppling onto your neighbor's mat?"

"By this point in your career, shouldn't you have a team of nude cabana boys to refill your wine and massage your feet while you write?"

Fortunately, I've gotten better at locating the source of the voice and giving her a good, solid bitch-slap.

"I'm making my own path," I tell her. "I have my own rules, my own timelines, my own damn route to success and happiness."

It's a reminder I imagine most of us need from time to time when we find ourselves fretting about what should have happened in our lives by now. When the imaginary clock ticks frantically for whatever milestone we believe we've failed to achieve.

It's a constant struggle to silence the voice, whether I'm plotting a book or plotting my life.

Maybe not when planning a wedding, though.

"I'm glad we don't have to wear shoes for the wedding," announced my eight-year-old maid of honor and soon-to-be-step-daughter. "Are we going to wear underwear?"

"That depends," I said. "Are we going to be doing cartwheels?"

"Of course we are," she told me. "It's a wedding. Aren't you supposed to do cartwheels at weddings?"



Deborah said...

Wow. Just when you're stewing in a pot of self-doubt because you have not achieved the goal your inner-bitch is haranguing you about, this comes along.

Thanks, Tawna!


Maureen said...

Great post! I love your sense of humor. (pssttt.. and I hear that voice all the time, going to bitch slap her now.) :)

Neurotic Workaholic said...

I wrote down your statement about making your own path in my journal. I'll reread it every time someone tries to tell me that I should live my life THEIR way instead of my way.
And congratulations on your engagement!

Dana Strotheide said...

Love. Love. Love. And perfectly timed. I was just lamenting that I'm not where I "should" be in my artwork. Well timed my dear and great advice. I didn't wear shoes at my wedding either. :) it was glorious.

Dana Strotheide said...

Love. Love. Love. And perfectly timed. I was just lamenting that I'm not where I "should" be in my artwork. Well timed my dear and great advice. I didn't wear shoes at my wedding either. :) it was glorious.

Renae Rude said...

There's so much wisdom in this post! I love the back-talk to "the voice." I think I need to come up with and memorize a snappy retort.

Lori Robinett said...

What a great post and at the perfect time. Thanks for the honesty.

By the way - you're going to be an AWESOME stepmom!

GCWilson said...

And...what a lovely ring. Never seen one like it. ..

Michelle Wolfson said...

Love the ring. Love the post. Laughed at your squiggly picture. And I wore shoes at my wedding because I desperately needed the extra height, but I wore tennis socks to make them super comfy. Was one of my most brilliant ideas ever.

Aurelia Blue said...

One of the best pieces of advice I ever got: DON'T LET PEOPLE SHOULD ON YOU.

Also, the right dress will move fluidly with you, eliminating the need for undies, even whilst performing cartwheels... which are an absolute must at weddings.

Christina Mitchell said...

I'm supposed to be writing and I'm reading your blog instead. Ooooops.

BTW as for your dress, I highly suggest you check with J. Crew and Department stores like Macys and Nordstroms. I think even JC Penny and Target have lines of of wedding dresses. The dresses at those places tend to be less princessy, more sleek and simple (and the pricetag is usually much friendlier).

Kudos on wedding simplicity. You'll have way, less stress than most. My hubs and I had a gnome themed, park wedding with fake flowers, cheesecake and board games for 30 guests. Our honeymoon was a metal concert (Avenged Sevenfold and Halestorm whooooo!) and one overnight stay at a hotel so we wouldn't have to drive home at 1am after the show. I was bombarded by people who told me that we HAD to have real flowers, HAD to have attendants, HAD to have booze. HAD to have china plates. We didn't HAVE to anything but sign the papers and so we didn't do any of that stuff we were supposed to do.

Skye said...

Awesome. I think a shoeless wedding is a great idea, as are the cartwheels. Obviously you not only found the right gentleman friend, but the right step-children-to-be.

Love the ring!

Kym Lucas said...

This was great! Thanks for the reminder that our paths are not always straight or even, but that doesn't mean they are not the right path for us. Love your books, by the way.