Cali – Part III

beach-wedding

Here at home, Seth and I have a routine of waking up early on Sunday mornings to volunteer with the children’s ministry at our local church. But during our California trip in mid-October, Seth and I found ourselves without a church home for Sunday morning.

Seth’s friends had planned their wedding for 4PM on Sunday afternoon, so Seth and I agreed we would spend Sunday morning reading the bible together in a coffee shop in lieu of going to some random church out in Cali. We had just nailed down a time of 8AM for driving to the coffee shop when Seth got a text from the groom.

The groom evidently wanted to go to breakfast with a bunch of people at 9AM the morning of his wedding day. No problem. Seth and I bumped our coffee date to 7AM. Then Seth’s friend Steve invited us to go biking along the beach at 11AM. We agreed to join him as well. So, as of Saturday night, our plans for Sunday were:

  • 7AM – Read the bible at a coffee shop
  • 9AM – Breakfast with the groom and friends
  • 11AM – Bike ride along the beach with Steve
  • 1PM – Head back to the hotel to shower and get ready for the wedding
  • 4PM – Wedding ceremony

And Sunday morning started perfectly. When the day dawned, Seth and I were already enjoying a quiet morning together reading one of the gospels. We asked questions of one another and dug into some bible commentaries to gain a deeper understanding of our selected reading passage. And Seth, who is not a coffee drinker, loved his coffee shop blueberry smoothie because – unlike the smoothie from Cali Day 1 – this one was chock full of sugar additives. We were both content and satisfied. For me, it was one of the best parts of the whole trip.

But then the rest of the world woke up for the day. Around 8:45AM when we prepared to leave the coffee shop, Seth got a text from the bridal party saying breakfast was pushed back to 10AM because the brothers of the bride were running late. So at 10AM, Seth and I rolled into IHOP only to discover that no one in the wedding party of fourteen people had bothered to make reservations for a Sunday morning breakfast at IHOP.

IHOP had an hour-long wait, so we all drove 15 minutes to another restaurant with only a 20 minute wait and finally got our “breakfast” around 11AM. I ended up being the only woman in the group (all the wives had been invited to a spa day), so I got stuck on the end next to the two brothers of the bride.

After two hours of entertaining the aspiring screenwriters, I escaped the man brunch, and Seth suggested a quick walk along the beach rather than trying to squeeze in a bike ride with Steve before the wedding. Then an hour before the ceremony, I found out the wedding was going to be on the beach itself and that footwear was discouraged. So I slipped out of my black heels and went barefoot in my cocktail dress. Oh yeah. I’m rocking this whole spontaneity thing. 

The wedding ceremony was fine – I knew no one; had never met the bride or groom prior to this day – and the reception started out pretty standard: drinks and appetizers while we waited for the bridal party to finish photos. Seth and I stood around making small talk for about an hour before the bridal party showed up and we were all seated for dinner.

Over dinner was more small talk (with strangers for me; college friends for Seth). Then the cake cutting and more small talk. Then the first dance; everyone dancing; more small talk.

Around 10PM I started to fade. My body was saying it was 12 midnight from my home time zone, I’d hiked for 6 hours the day prior, and I’d woken up at 6AM that morning to do a morning devotional with my beau. Besides that, my introverted self was emotionally exhausted from the six straight hours of making small talk with strangers. People I didn’t know. People I’d never see again. People with whom I did not share any common interests or even the same life stage.

I was so miserable by 10:30PM that I excused myself to go to the bathroom and just sat down in a stall in the women’s bathroom even though I didn’t need to go. I just needed some alone time – some time away from the loud music and crowded reception hall and clusters of strangers asking me the same surface-level questions over and over again.

When I re-emerged at 10:45PM, one of Seth’s more distasteful acquaintances (who’d shown me a photo of an erection an hour earlier) came up to me and said loudly, “Why are you so quiet?!” My automatic response was to crinkle my nose in distaste and ask sourly, “Why are you so loud?”

Seth immediately pulled me aside and asked what was wrong. “I’m fine,” I told him. And I would be fine. I could buck up and stick it out. We’d flown all the way to California for this wedding, and I didn’t want to be the reason we left the reception early.

“We can go if you want,” Seth told me, trying to be considerate. But I knew he didn’t want to leave, so I told him we could stay as long as he wanted.

“Are you tired?” he asked me, trying to understand. He’s a man and, sweet man that he is, he sensed a problem and just couldn’t stop himself from trying to fix it.

“I’m not physically tired,” I explained, “But I’m emotionally exhausted. It’s been seven straight hours of making small talk with strangers, and that is draining for me.”

Just then, someone came up to talk to Seth, so I snuck away to a corner to read articles on my phone. I was past the point of caring if I seemed anti-social.

Fifteen minutes later, the wedding planner announced that the bride and groom weren’t planning to do a formal exit, so we were free to leave at any time. Seth and I were out the door in minutes – I think mostly because he was conscious of my mental and emotional state. We didn’t speak before bed other than to agree to set our alarms for 4AM in order to catch our 7AM LA flight an hour’s drive away.

At the airport in the morning, Seth and I hashed out the tension from the prior evening. After getting through security and sitting at our gate, Seth commented, “You seemed really irritable last night, and I don’t understand why you behaved that way. Honestly, I’m pretty concerned by your behavior. You seemed miserable. I mean, are we even compatible?”

“Are you breaking up with me?” I asked candidly.

“No,” he said slowly; cautiously. “I just – well,  I want to be with someone who enjoys parties like I do; who values people like I do.”

“Seth. I was pleasant and sociable for the first five hours. I do enjoy parties, and I do value people. But I think it’s understandable that seven hours of making small talk with strangers is emotionally draining.”

“No. No, it’s not understandable. I had a great time last night until you started getting so grumpy.”

“I wasn’t grumpy. I was reserved,” I told him. He didn’t seem to understand, so I tried to give an example he – in all his extroversion – could relate to. “Remember yesterday morning when we were at the coffee shop reading together?”

“Yeah…”

“I could have done that all day,” I told him. “I LOVE that kind of thing. But how would you have felt around hour 7 of sitting at a quiet coffee shop?”

Seth’s eyes grew wide in horror. “I would have wanted to die.”

I nodded emphatically. “Yes! And that’s how the wedding reception felt for me after seven hours of small talk.”

Seth looked thoughtful. “So… Do we exhaust each other?”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean, the things I enjoy seem to drain you. And vice versa. Are we just not good for each other?” He looked sad.

I chose my words carefully. “I think introverts and extroverts make great couples. They are able to complement one another in ways that like pairs cannot. I like that you get me out of my shell, and hopefully you appreciate that I help you settle down and be still from time to time.”

“I don’t want us to break up,” he said quietly.

“I don’t want us to break up, either,” I echoed softly.

“I want to try to make it work,” he told me.

“I do, too,” I responded. “And I think we can,” I added encouragingly. “I mean, think about how much friction we used to have about planning versus flexibility. And I think we’ve done great with that this trip! We just had to find a way to compromise; a way of working that fit our relationship. And I think we can do that for our introversion/extroversion conflict, too.” I paused. “I’m willing to try if you are.”

“Yeah,” Seth finally smiled. “I want to make it work.”

He took my hand and gave it a gentle squeeze. Our flight had started boarding. It was time to go home.

Seth pulled me up, and we walked to our gate hand-in-hand. We had some work ahead of us – some compromise and conflict resolution – but we both recognized that the best things in life are worth fighting for.

Authentically Aurora

Advertisements

Of Planks and Pushups

We’re now nearly to the end of February, and I can still honestly say that I’ve worked out every day this year [insert mental image of shocked faces, including mine]!

Most of my work outs have been pretty basic, doing 30 minute yoga exercises or running a mile or two here and there. But even with those simplistic I’m-just-trying-to-create-a-habit work outs, I can already see some exciting changes!

Here are three things I can do now that I could not do at the start of the year:

  1. Chest Push-UpsPush up
  2. Triceps Push-UpsTricep push up
  3. Side PlankSidePlankPose

A part of me is embarrassed to even admit there was a time I could not do these things, but hey – judge me if you must. I can’t help that God made me busty with ridiculously tiny wrists. I was a soccer player, not a discus thrower. But I’m working on it.

Most of the exercises I’ve done this year have been shoulder and wrist strengthening exercises, and I am (finally!) starting to reap the benefits of my discipline to keep at it, silly though I may feel when I look out the window from my yoga mat to see hardcore Crossfitters puking on the sidewalk outside. I was one of them, once upon a time (a Crossfitter, not a puker. I like to keep my food inside my stomach, thank you very much. But I digress).

One of the neat things about deciding to be disciplined in working out is that it teaches our psyches the very important life lesson of valuing perseverance; of sacrificing in the near term in order to benefit in the long term. We all know this in our heads, but sometimes it takes living it out to really believe that our discipline is worthwhile, whether it is persevering in exercise, scripture reading, relationships, folding that fifth load of laundry, finishing that kale salad, scrubbing every inch of your kitchen floor after you spill orange juice on it… or any manner of other situations.

Things that are worthwhile rarely come easily, and things that come easily are rarely worthwhile. So we persevere and strive to live above the common level of life. We were made for more than mediocrity. And kale salad.

Authentically Aurora

Yogi’s Choice

How are y’all’s New Year’s Resolutions going? I am pleased to announce that I have legitimately worked out every single day this year so far. Never thought I’d be able to say that!

One of my new workouts of choice is yoga. In addition to increasing my core strength (strong is the new sexy!), it also helps me be present in the moment – something that doesn’t always come naturally to me, especially since I dislike my job, so being present is not always as pleasant an alternative as living in my fantasy world where I am the happily married princess of a chocolate empire who uses her plentiful free time to inspire young adults to reach their full potential through AuROARa Talks (you know, the new, up-and-coming version of TED Talks).

I am finding that much of yoga is about “yogi’s choice”, i.e. each person in the yoga session adjusting the workout to meet their particular needs. So, in those moments where I am tempted not to be present, I have found that this is a really great option for yogi’s choice:

Yoga Cookie

Authentically Aurora

Exercise Exorcism

female boxingI have officially determined that there is absolutely no way I will ever exercise if it is not fun. I have, of course, made this determination through strict usage of the scientific method – namely, by observing years of failed New Year’s resolutions.

…Okay, I’m an engineer. It was a bit more scientific than that.

I would love to believe that I can just muster up the self-discipline to get myself to the gym or a running trail, but in the past six months, using that white-knuckling approach to force myself to be disciplined has only resulted in an average of 1.8 workouts per week.

I know, because I did the math.

In July, I worked out an average of 2 times per week. In both August and September, my performance went down to 1.5x/wk. October – 3.5x/wk (whoop!); November – 1.25x/wk; December – 1.5x/wk. Interestingly, October was also the month I felt the happiest this year. So if I’m going to make 2016 great, I need to get a handle on this exercise thing. Which means I need to stop thinking of exercise as exercise and more as a fun activity I have the pleasure of doing.

Being an analytics freak, I of course made a spreadsheet with some of my options, their associated costs, plus the travel times and distances to various gyms, parks, dance studios, etc. Only after doing all of this work did I have the epiphany that, really, the best form of exercise for me would be one where I frequently get to punch people in the face. Because that’s what I want to do all day anyway. If I could burn calories while punching people in the face, that would really be ideal.

Time to research nearby boxing gyms… Fit Aurora, here I come!

Authentically Aurora

P.S. You think I’m joking. But I’m not. Bye, 2015! Thanks for the motivation!