Traveling with Anxiety

Lil disclaimer to get us started:  Gonna get incredibly real with y’all in this post so beware.  Anxiety is something I NEVER talk about on a public platform because I know there are people much much worse off than me so I strongly avoid complaining about it openly.  

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Sorrento, Italy

Anyone even remotely close to me knows that I have always struggled with anxiety.  You name it and it probably makes me anxious.  Social events, making big purchases, going to work, leaving the house, yep, yep, yep, and yep.  I’ve ruined experiences for myself and relationships with others as a result of this issue and I’ve learned A LOT about myself and how to cope through these kinds of challenges.  I’m kind of granola (aka scaredy cat) when it comes to medicating and refuse to put anything stronger than ibuprofen and a little caffeine in my body so the only option I’m left with is teaching myself to cope the best way I know how (though if you are someone who needs to medicate more power to ya- no judgment).

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Charleston, SC

I have learned that bottling up how anxious I am feeling does nothing but hurt myself (and others if they are affected by it without knowing the reason) so in recent years I have learned to be a little more open about how I’m feeling and fortunately, the people who matter to me have continued to accept me for I am and I am forever thankful for those people!

Now that I’ve clued a few more important people in my life into this issue, a couple of them have asked me how I’ve stayed so calm with all of our travels (past and upcoming) and the answer is easy – I haven’t!

2018 was a year FULL of traveling!  Stephen lived in Washington, DC for three months, we made several trips to Charleston, honeymooned in a three-stop Italy trip, road tripped to Manhattan with some friends, ate our hearts out (literally) in Nashville, and rang in the new year in Paris just to name a few!  Our 2019 travel plans so far include Chicago, NYC, Iceland, London, Amsterdam, and Greece and I am trying to convince Stephen to add more to the list.  He doesn’t start his job until September and we are trying to fit as much travel as possible in while his schedule is still moderately flexible.

 

One of the reasons we’ve been able to fit so much in so little time is that Stephen and I are absolute pros at hitting the ground running as soon as we reach a destination and not stopping til we’re on the plane home – we are exceptionally good at fitting in a LOT in just a LITTLE time.  Fortunately for me, oftentimes we are so busy trying to fit so much in that I am kept TOO busy to be alone with my thoughts and get nervous.  We approach each trip as if it will be the last opportunity we’ll ever have to go there (which, let’s be honest, it very well could be!) and spend hours researching the must-do’s of each destination then pack our trips full from sun-up to sun-down each day!  Anyone else struggling with anxiety can probably relate to the fact that staying super busy is a great way to keep those negative feelings at bay.

 

There are some aspects of traveling where anxiety just can’t be avoided.  When we fly I usually spend the night before or the morning of heaving into a toilet (told you we’d be getting real here!);  I don’t mind flying really, but get terrified of the unknown so every time we go somewhere I’ve never been (especially if there’s a language barrier) I worry worry worry about all that I don’t know.  Are we prepared enough?  Do we have enough money?  What if one of us gets sick or hurt?  What if I can’t find anything to eat?  How are we going to communicate?  Questions galore race through my head and I hate not having the answers.  I am pretty largely in charge of planning when we travel (Stephen really prefers to fly by the seat of his pants which obviously doesn’t mesh well with an anxious person- love you babe 🙂 ) so I feel completely responsible for everything that happens when we travel and am terrified that I will have forgotten something important; wracking my brain for potential mistakes I’ve made takes off and gets out of hand very quickly!

Once we’re at our destination I get anxious before every mealtime; I am an embarrassingly picky eater and I also get painstakingly terrified when I don’t know the layout of a restaurant (Do we wait to be seated?  Do we go up and order?  Do we pay here or at the counter?  Sounds kind of amusing but these are actually REALLY upsetting questions for me and I really hate not knowing what I’m supposed to be doing- maybe it comes from working in the service industry for four years and being used to knowing these things?  Who knows!  Anxiety knows no limits.).  One time in Rome Stephen and I tried to split a pizza and got yelled at in Italian!  You can imagine it just about sent me into an anxiety-ridden stupor when we were there (Note to all those thinking about visiting Italy: if you’re sitting at a restaurant you better be ordering your own entrée if you don’t want to get yelled at!).  We’ve also been yelled at in French while at a Parisian restaurant, but that’s a longer story.  These are the kinds of things that usually do me in.  I am a Type A rule-follower and anything less than following the rules and the status quo is honestly debilitating for me; I basically lose the ability to talk or listen to others because I am sitting there, lost in my thoughts, regretting my actions, wondering how I could have done things differently to avoid this situation.

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Rome, Italy

It sucked.  There I was, sitting in one of the most amazing cities in the world, and I was completely blind to it because something had happened where honestly, the person yelling at us probably went about his day and didn’t think twice about that interaction.  That’s just it though, we can’t choose what makes us anxious and anxiety has no rhyme or reason.

So how did I get past it?  Like I said earlier, I really didn’t.  If I’m being honest I still really cringe about it and if I think hard enough about it I can sort of shut down because I feel so icky about the interaction.  You can’t just turn anxiety off.  What I have learned (and am still actively learning to do) is suppress it the best I can by being open about what I’m feeling and after acknowledging it, focusing on how lucky I am to be where I am.   I know how disappointed I would be with myself if I realized it was time to leave our destination and all I had been able to focus on was how anxious I was feeling.  I know how guilty I would feel if I hadn’t been fully present with Stephen in these places that we may never get a chance to return to.  I have to remind myself to stay focused on the many many positive and exciting things happening all around me when we are traveling.

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Paris, France

It is work…hard work at that. But traveling is a priority for us in this season of our lives.  It is a top priority for us.  Our adventures fuel us as a couple, but to be able to fuel us I first need to fuel myself.

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Sorrento, Italy

The fact of the matter is it is OKAY to feel anxious;  if it wasn’t I would be in a really rough place because the reality is I will probably never not be an anxious person – it just is what it is.  Traveling will probably never be in my “comfort zone.”  It’s not comfortable!  It’s scary and exciting and exhilarating and oftentimes, yes, uncomfortable.  But it is important to us.  Really, really important to us.  And guess what?  I have yet to regret a single adventure we’ve been on.  Every time we travel (internationally or not) my heart comes back feeling ten times more full than it was when we left.  Despite being uncomfortable at times, Stephen and I have incredible amounts of fun when we travel and it has brought us closer than ever because of the communication and compromise we’ve had to learn when traveling (his patience and understanding have been a help too!).

The more I force myself to face my anxieties and kick myself out of my own comfort zone, the easier it is to do so.  I acknowledge that I am nervous and then I make myself move on and focus on what we’re doing and where we are; acknowledging it is half the battle.  ‘Anxious’ is not a mindset; if it was, it would be possible to change.  ‘Strong’ and ‘brave’ are mindsets that I choose to utilize in my life and in my travels and it is through this that I am able to cope and why I will be able to continue to travel and enjoy doing so.

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Gonna end this by saying I consider myself lucky that despite never being able to completely get rid of my anxiety, through a lot of hard work (which continues every. single. day.) I am able to get past it in order to enjoy things far beyond my normal comfort zone and I know that many people would not be able to say the same.  I encourage everyone to be open with themselves and others about any mental health struggles they may have and not to hesitate getting help if needed.  We aren’t going to end the stigma by staying silent 🙂

Thanks for stopping by!

Sydney

Meet the Maids: Carly

Stephen and I have one priority for our wedding day: celebrate with our family and closest friends.  We are taking great care of tending to our guest list and keeping it on the smaller side so that everyone who attends can feel truly celebrated with us.  Of course, this applies to the friends who will be standing up at the altar with us as well! I’ve decided to do a Meet the Maids series on the blog to introduce you to the most special ladies in my life!

First, I’d like you to meet Carly! She is one of my oldest (and very best) friends! We first met in 2010 when we worked at Sweet Tomatoes and despite being total opposites, our friendship has withstood the test of time! She is hands down one of the most trustworthy people I know and I can always count on her for anything!  Plus, she is a fellow NC State grad!  When the owner of our wedding venue was discussing the timeline of our reception with us, he asked me which of my bridesmaids could get the party started best; Stephen and I immediately turned to each other and said, “CARLY!”  So I can’t wait for our guests to be introduced to her first at the reception!  She has such a fun-loving heart and is always trying to get this introvert to venture out of my comfort zone and try new and amazing things! (And I only chicken out about half the time 🙂 )

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The amazing thing about Carly is that she simply can’t have too many friends; once you meet her, she will have your back forever!  She is definitely one of the most loyal people I have ever met.  In fact, Stephen called her the night he was going to propose and asked that she be at the dinner celebration that night and despite the fact that she had plans, she rearranged them just so she could celebrate with us which will always mean the world to me!

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I am sooo lucky to have Carly in my life and so glad she agreed to stand next to me on my big day!  This description does not even do her justice so I can’t wait for our guests to meet her on the big day!

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So glad she was able to come with me the day I bought my wedding dress!

Thanks for stopping by!

Sydney

July Goals


Happy 4th of July and happy birthday to my favorite country! 🙂 Hope everyone’s day is filled with lots of sunshine and celebration!  I’ll be spending the day in Charleston — my favorite place second only to Raleigh!

As I prepare for all the crazy stuff happening in July, I’m taking a look back at my June goals.  Here’s how I did:

  • Join a gym  (Check! Joined my local YMCA and I am loving it!)
  • Go to the gym at least three times a week (I’m going to half-check this one. I did make it to the gym 2-3 times per week all month though, so that’s definitely a start!)
  • Start working in my Write the Word Journal from the Cultivate What Matters Shop (Unfortunately I can’t check this one off; I am hoping to start on this item this month!)
  • Deposit $500 into the wedding account (Check! I was able to deposit money that would have gone towards rent into the wedding account!  Stephen and I have agreed to deposit the same amount of our own money into the wedding account each month.)
  • Send out invitations for a sweet friend’s bridal shower (Check! That shower will be happening this month and I can’t wait!)
  • Start reading The Meaning of Marriage with Stephen (This one was a ‘no’ as well.  It proved to be too difficult to coordinate our schedules. I am looking forward to completing this goal in July!)
  • Read one book for fun (Okay, I am going to check this goal off even though I am only 200 pages or so in.  That counts, right??)

I haven’t been at this for long but I am loving writing all my goals down and checking back on them at the end of the month.  I find holding myself accountable for my goals so valuable.  I think it’s so important to always find yourself working towards something; it keeps you grounded and keeps you focused on working towards growth instead of achieving total perfection (which is obviously impossible!).

With that being said, here are my goals for July:

  • Start working in my Write the Word Journal from the Cultivate What Matters Shop
  • Start reading The Meaning of Marriage with Stephen
  • Attend our first premarital counseling session with my sweet Granddaddy (SO excited for this one!)
  • Start student teaching
  • Schedule meetings with my rental company and florist for next month
  • Finish a book for fun
  • Deposit $700 of my own money into the wedding account
  • Throw an amazing bridal shower for one of my bridesmaids!

I am looking so forward to July and achieving all of these goals! I’d love to hear about your July goals while you’re here!

Thanks for stopping by!

-Sydney 

How We’re Cutting Wedding Costs

I debated writing this post at all because I am a firm believer (and have certainly learned through experience!) that there is no one blanket statement to explain how to cut costs on your wedding, but my goal for this post is just to explain how we are doing it, and maybe we’ll be able to help someone else out with their own budgeting process.  The fact of the matter is this: weddings. are. expensive.  Stephen and I have a running joke about this because shortly after he proposed we sat down to discuss budgeting and several minutes after I realized I had been droning on without any input from him, I looked up to find him weary-eyed and bewildered (and I’m pretty sure I could actually see his hair turning gray) and he said, “When I proposed I thought weddings only cost a couple thousand dollars at the most.”  Ha! Not that it’s not possible to have an amazing wedding for that much money, it just wasn’t possible to achieve our personal vision for that much!

I could go into all sorts of generic advice that I read on other wedding blogs (base your budget on what you can spend, not on what you want to spend; DIY as much as possible; consider a cash bar; get married on a weekday; repurpose bridesmaid bouquets for centerpieces, etc.) and while a lot of that advice is helpful, I had already considered almost all of it and was still desperate for ways to save money, so here’s what I have discovered throughout my own budgeting process:

My first piece of advice is to prioritize.  Sit down with your fiancé and determine what items are must-haves in your wedding.  Stephen and I were immediately on the same page on what we wanted to splurge on: things that would last forever.  Photography and videography are the first two things that came to our minds in that category.  Our wedding photos and video are things that we will be able to look back on for the rest of our lives and that we will be able to share with our children and eventually their children.  We also knew we wanted a breathtaking ceremony and reception space (especially because often if the backdrop of the ceremony is super pretty, less decorations are needed to spice it up!). The priorities page of the Joyful Wedding Planner from Southern Weddings helped us out a lot with this step of our budgeting process (see below!).

I also made makeup a priority for my wedding day.  I set an all-in budget for makeup and sought makeup professionals that offered airbrush foundation and had photos on their websites of looks similar to what I’m looking for on my wedding day.  Keep in mind that a lot of people on a budget probably don’t make makeup a priority on their wedding day and that I am very likely the exception rather than the rule! I’ve heard of many people saying they would rather not spend much money on makeup that they will be washing off at the end of the night, but it was important to me because 1) I wear a lot of makeup on a day-to-day basis anyway and love makeup application, and 2) Makeup makes me feel confident and every bride should feel confident on her wedding day!  A bride’s confidence on her wedding day is of utmost importance – it is your day to shine and you should be feeling your best! If you are like me and feel your best when you’re wearing smoky eyeshadow and have contoured cheeks, make that a priority for you; if you feel more confident with a more natural look, go for that, and don’t let anyone tell you that your decision is wrong!

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My second piece of advice is to start early.  Obviously every engagment is different and some people are engaged for six months and some people are like us and are engaged for almost two years.  Stephen and I will have had twenty-two months (story on that here) to save for our wedding and we got started saving right away!  Because we got started on wedding planning so early, there were several vendors we were able to book with their 2016 pricing and locked in a lower price than we would have gotten if we had waited (vendors often raise their prices each year).  Even though we got a lot of “Wow, you guys are getting started early,” from the vendors we talked to, it has definitely paid off in the long run!

Third: don’t be afraid to rely on friends, family, and acquaintances for certain aspects of your wedding! Stephen’s dad has a hot sauce company (which is amazing, by the way! I put it on everything!) so we are using bottles of hot sauce as our wedding favors! We are going to print custom stickers to put on the bottles and voila! Wedding favors: check.  Another area we’re saving is my veil! My amazing MOH was nice enough to agree to let me wear her gorgeous veil, which is saving us money but will also serve as my something borrowed on my big day as well! If your MOH isn’t married yet, look into wearing your mother’s, grandmother’s, or future mother-in-law’s veil, garter, dress, etc.  Stephen also has a family friend who owns his own brewery, so we’ll be getting craft beer for our wedding for a fraction of the normal price!  I personally am not a fan of DIY (because I am so not crafty!), but I have been practicing calligraphy in hopes of using my newfound skills for signage at our wedding and for addressing the envelopes for our save-the-dates.  The Southern gal in me makes me kind of a stickler for slightly more traditional/formal invitations, so I am seeking the help of a crafty friend for calligraphy on our actual invitations- again, saving a lot of money by not going with a formal calligraphy business!

We are also shopping sales and have started couponing — especially when it comes to wine!  I got my wedding dress on sale for 50% off and ended up spending less than half of the amount I had budgeted for a dress! We are also looking into Total Wine and Trader Joe’s for our wine since they often have coupons and if you buy from Total Wine and don’t chill/open all of it, you can return whatever you don’t use! I bought my ceremony shoes (discontinued but brand-new Jack Rogers) from Poshmark for $60!  We’re also using all sorts of Etsy shops (be aware though – Etsy is not always cheapest, so make sure you’re looking at all options) and an online shop for our invitation suite (again, start early so that you can wait for sales and coupon codes!).

Perhaps the number one area of saving we are utilizing (and I totally understand this doesn’t work for everyone!) is readjusting our living arrangements.  We had been spending about $1500 on rent, cable, utilities, and other living expenses which means that we were spending $1500 that could not be going into our wedding budget! My sweet mom has been kind enough to let us move in with her rent-free for the second half of our engagement and over half of our wedding budget is coming from the amount we will be able to save because of her! Obviously not every person is going to be able to do this, but consider things like cutting back on your cable and internet plan, taking shorter showers, being more mindful of turning lights off when leaving the room or the house, not turning the thermostat so low in the summer and high in the winter, etc.  You’ll be amazed how much money you can save by saving power and water in your household! Good for the environment and good for the wedding budget 🙂

Don’t forget — keep in mind when booking vendors that many of them need to be tipped 15-20% of their total price! If you are thinking of going over your budget and that you can just squeak by, don’t forget you will very likely actually be paying these people more than what their invoice says and the higher the bill, the higher the tip!  You don’t want to realize the week of your wedding that you don’t have enough money to pay and/or tip your vendors!

I definitely wish I had known some of these things before we started the budgeting process so hopefully this post helps someone out!

Thanks for stopping by!

-Sydney