This blog was created to serve as an inspiration to all who read aspire, to love and to live a life of purpose.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Marriage Gist: 12 Hard Truths for Newly Engaged or Married Couples

These days, among many of my friends, wedding planning is the order of the day. Last year alone, I was a bridesmaid 4 times. This year, i'll be a bridesmaid at least 3 times. Moreover, as you maybe heard, following some very special event on Valentine's Day, wedding planning is now on my to-do list as well ;-)

If you're an avid reader, you know that, even before this recent development, I've always been interested in relationships and marriages and how to make them work longterm. I'm an avid lover of love and as a product of parents who shared a loving and productive marriage/partnership, I'm more interested in marriage, than in the wedding.

I've had several of these conversations with my mom and older married sisters, friends and cousins. In the course of this "research", I have not only collected so much good stuff, I have learned some hard truths. With a little nudging from my friend, I have decided to share the wealth. It is my goal to not only inspire you but to help you get prepared to make your marriage a fulfilling lifetime journey. Buckle Up.

1. Marriage means partnership. 
For the rest of your life, 99% of your life decisions will have to at the very least consider the input of someone else. This is not to say that you have to loose your individuality. In fact, to stay sane, you have to maintain "you". Instead, this is to say that you have to make room for another person, in every way possible. It's not just "you" anymore.

2. This lovey-dovey "high" will dwindle.
You will fight. You may even go to bed angry. Or not be ready to talk for days. Sometimes, you or your spouse will need a little time to calm down. Fighting is healthy. Well, when its not physical and both parties are continuously trying to learn and make the marriage better.  Yes, the love could dwindle but its a chance to fall back "up" in love. Fighting shouldn't break your marriage, it should make it stronger.

3. There will be hard times. 
Besides the internally-created hard times, and beyond the "he refused to put down the toilet seat", life may hit you hard at some point. A loss of a lucrative job, a death in the family, an accident, illness, or an addiction (social media, porn, gambling, substance). Marriage can be all peachy until life's challenges hit you. As long as we live in this world, there will be let-downs. No one is immune to hardships. Even though you started your marriage making more money than your wife, you have to be ready that there may the time when financial hardships or a job promotion for her will turn the tables a bit. Even though when you met your husband he was 230 pounds of hard muscle and regular gym visits, there may be a time when a health-related set back will ground him. You may loose a parent and need time to grieve well. To get through it all, communicate, stay committed and be understanding. Remember it's for better or for worse.

4. You would have to deal with unattraction and/or a roller-coaster sex life. 
Many married couples have confessed to experiencing a period when they are not attracted to their partner. Your wife was size 2 when you married her but then she has a kid and gains 50 pounds. Your husband had a full head of hair and six-pack abs when you married him but 10 years later, he is bald with a potbelly. The hard truth here is that no matter how much you love your spouse, if they let themselves go, its hard to keep the spark alive. Here, effort is what will make the difference. For a successful marriage, you can never get tired of trying to look good for your spouse. Yes, he has seen you first thing in the morning, stinky breath and all, but once in a while, you should dress up just for him.

Also, there will be dry spells due to work, pregnancy, long commutes, or illness. It is normal. While you should try to minimize dry spells, the key is to stay physically connected and still pay attention to each other- touching, cuddling, kissing, or just holding hands keeps you connected even in the absence of sex.

5. There will be external pressure.
No not from life. From people. Be it in laws, family or friends. There will be people who will try to butt into your marriage. How you and your spouse handle external pressure could make or break your marriage. Never forget you are a united front.

6.  Once or twice, or more, you will question either why you got married at all or chose your spouse. 
Of all the people I've talked to, only 2 people have admitted this. Once the fairytale wears off, you may wake up one morning, look at your spouse and wonder, "so this is it?" Same person, same routine, same structure, day in day out. The person you chose, no matter how much you love him/her, cannot make you happy every minute every day. They will annoy you. They will frustrate you. You may just want to rip their head off. Was it worth it? As long as you both are committed for the long haul, you can put in efforts to remind each other why you got married and what attracted you to each other in the first place. Even though, your spouse may not successfully make you happy all the time, what matters is that they are trying to and you are reciprocating. After all, marriage is a journey not a destination. When you appreciate the little things, you realize marriage is better than a fairy tale.

7. In light of the above, Happily ever after is what you make it.
And this requires hard work on a daily basis...The effort is not just a one-time remedy. Its a lifetime commitment. Compromise. That's the magic word. You don't have to win every battle. Sometimes, being right all the time just builds discontent in your marriage. If its not worth it, let it go. Refer to The Art of Picking your Battles.

8. You can only change yourself. 
Remember how hard it was to live with your siblings even though you share parents? Imagine committing to sharing space with someone raised sometimes completely in a different environment from you. You can't change a person, especially a fully grown man who has spent decades of life with a habit or believe. Stop wearing yourself off trying to. It's easier, saner and a much more achievable task, instead, to change how you respond to them.

9. You will be forced to confront yourself.
Marriage will teach you a hard lesson about yourself. It will throw in your face your issues...control, trust, communication? It will force you to learn. It will force you to see the good and bad parts you play in your marriage. But its what you do with the lessons that could make or break your marriage. Let your self-awareness better the role you play in holding your marriage together.

10. To make it work, you'll have to own up to your weaknesses. 
Your partner is there to compliment you, let him/her. Where you are weak, let them be strong. Where you are strong, still listen to their input. For example, if you're a spender, and he is a saver, don't feel slighted if he wants to handle the finances. If you are not organized, forget easily or don't know how to pay attention to details, let her be the one responsible for paying the bills monthly.

11. You'd have to be subservient. 
In order to be served, you have to serve. If you're a woman, you need to understand that men like to feel like the head of the household, more so in public. Respect him and defer to him, especially when among his peers. For example, if you make fun of him or a flaw of his in private, when people are listening, think again before you make a joke that could undermine his status as an able husband. On the other hand, as a man, if you know your wife hates to do laundry, picking up that tab for her will not hurt. Sometimes, just opening the door for her will make her day. Honor and be honored. A happy partner is a happy life.
There you have it. I didn't write these hard-truths to discourage or scare you. It is intended as an inspiration as I've been inspired by others. I published because even in my marriage, I'd want to come back, read and be reminded how to make my marriage work. Marriage is a beautiful thing....better still, it is not about fairy tale is about real-life-love. It is that kind of love that lasts, withstands, and survives through time, life's challenges and everything in between. Don't go in with "cinderella" expectations. Go in committed to making each other happy; open and ready to enjoy the ride, bumps and all.

Oh Oh Oh...I don't know about you...but I'm excited ;-)

Stay Inspired...
NwaVic – | |Twitter & Instagram @nwavicesq

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Unique Life Patterns & a Lesson in Contentment

I must have been 7 years old when I learned a lesson that would inspire me, over and over again.   I was sitting next to my friend Joy in Sunday school when two kids started bickering. The Sunday school teacher paused Christmas play rehearsals to ask what the problem was. They were fighting over a pink Barbie school bag. One of them screamed, "she always takes the things my mommy buys me". The other replied in a viciously-matched tone, "she must not have everything!" My teacher paused and asked everybody to look at our palms. Then she asked us to compare it with one another. All 11 of us went around comparing the palm of our hands. She said, "do any of you have the same palm?" Truly, the mode of line-design and the shade varied. Even when the lines seemed similar, the density wasn't.

That day, from that little demonstration, I learned something deeper. No two people were created the same. No two people had the same life map...blessings and problems alike. Some people are blessed with money. Others are blessed with good looks. Some are blessed with intelligence. Others are blessed with good spirits. Some are blessed to sing. Others are blessed to inspire. Some are scheduled to be successful at 23, and others, at 55. Some will combat an illness at 20, and others won't ever be sick. Some will die before they turn 30, others will live till they can live no more.

And from time to time, when I get discontent with one thing or the other in my life, I am reminded that my life's plan is not the same with anyone else's. And when I start to count unachieved goals or untraveled paths, it's this perspective that always puts me back in line.
Often times, especially with social media, we get lost in what our life "should" look like. The truth is that no single person is without problems or failures. Nobody is perfect. Nobody has it all. Once, someone told me they left Facebook because seeing the successes in other people's lives made her depressed about the hardships she was experiencing. And I said, "of course, people advertise their success. You never know the full story. No one wants to advertise their problems. To an extent, you can't blame them because no one wants to air their dirty laundry into the hands of possible naysayers." But then again, this is why I always "smh" to the people who make an effort to paint the picture of a perfect life. There is no such thing. There is just God's grace, the strength to keep on keeping on and the personal decision to own your happiness.

The moment you start to take stock of where your life is in comparison to others is the beginning of unending self-doubt and unhappiness. Of course, there will always be someone who you think is prettier, more successful, richer, happier or with a better spouse, than you. Besides the fact that you have no idea what they've been through to get where they are, or what they are doing to maintain what they have, that someone probably thinks the same or more of you.
So, next time you feel the discontent creeping into your mind, instead of comparing, count your blessings. Find the beauty in what you already have. Focus on discovering what plans God has for you and how you can live out and maximize your good fate (akalaka). Whatever it is that's meant to be yours, will be. All you can do is put in the effort to achieve it. Moreover, the only person who's life meter you should be comparing yours to is the person who has said His plans are to prosper you and not harm give you hope and a good future (Jeremiah 29:11).
NwaVic – | |Twitter & Instagram @nwavicesq
Stay Inspired & Have a Blessed & Content week!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Red Carpet Fashion+ Full List of Winners: The 2014 Oscars | 86th Academy Awards

Today, the 86th annual Academy Awards ceremony is being held at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, California hosted by Ellen Degeneres. Here are some red carpet eye candy for the fashion-lovers :-) and the full-list of winners as they are being announced.
 Amy Adams in Gucci gown and Tiffany jewels
 Angelina Jolie
Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie
 Anna Kendrick in J. Mendel
Anna Kendrick in J. Mendel
 Chrissy Teigen in Monique Lhullier
 Giuliana Rancic
Giuliana Rancic
 Jennifer Lawrence in Dior Couture
 Kelly Osbourne
 Kelly Ripa
 Kerry Washington
 Kristen Chenoweth in Cavalli and Neil Lane
 Lara Spencer in KAUFMANFRANCO
 Lupita Nyong'o in Prada
 Maria Menounos
Maria Menounos
 Michael Strahan
 Olivia Wilde and Jason Sudeikis
 Ryan Seacrest
 Shaun Robinson
 Nancy O'Dell
 Ireland Baldwin in Burberry
 Rocsi Diaz
 Rachel Smith
 Louise Roe
 Brooke Anderson
 Tara Lipinski
 Robin Roberts
 Cristin Milioti
 Liza Minnelli
 Sara Ishaq
 Portia de Rossi in Naeem Khan
 Kristen Bell in Cavalli, Piaget, Brian Atwood Ferragamo
 Kristen Bell in Cavalli, Piaget, Brian Atwood Ferragamo
 Laura Dern
 Olga Kurylenko
 Veerle Baetens
 Julie Delpy in Jenny Packham
 June Squibb in Tadashi Shoji
 Naomi Watts in Calvin Klein and Bulgari
 Alfre Woodard
 Glenn Close in Zac Posen
 Calista Flockhart
 Ashley Wagner
 Sally Hawkins in Valentino
 Bette Midler in Reem Acara
 Karen O
  Jessica Biel in Chanel
 Goldie Hawn
 Cate Blanchett in Giorgio Armani
 Charlize Theron
 Jared Leto in Saint Laurent by Heidi Slimane
 Anne Hathaway in Gucci
 Lea Drucker
 Matthew McConaughey
 Jada Pinkett Smith
 Elsa Pataky
Elsa Pataky and Chris Hemsworth
 Margot Robbie in Saint Laurent by Hedi Slimane
 Margot Robbie in Saint Laurent by Hedi Slimane
 Julia Roberts in Givenchy
 Emma Watson in Vera Wang
 Jenna Dewan-Tatum
 Sandra Bullock
Idina Menzel in Vera Wang gown and Chimento jewels
 Penelope Cruz
 Meryl Streep
 Sarah Paulson
 Kate Hudson
 Kevin Spacey
 Jennifer Garner
 Tara Lipinski and Johnny Weir
 Viola Davis in Escada
Olivia Wilde in Valentino
 Bradley Cooper
 Chinwetel Ejiofor and Sara Mercer
 Lady Gaga
Pharrel Williams and Helen Lasichanh

Who's your "Best Dressed"?

Full List of Winners

Best picture
WINNER: 12 Years a Slave

Nominees: American Hustle; Captain Phillips; Dallas Buyers Club; Gravity; Her; Nebraska; Philomena; The Wolf of Wall Street; 12 Years a Slave

Best actor
WINNER: Mathew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club

Nominees: Christian Bale, American Hustle; Bruce Dern, Nebraska; Leonardo DiCaprio, The Wolf of Wall Street; Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club; Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years a Slave

Best actress
WINNER: Cate Blanchett

Nominees: Amy Adams, American Hustle; Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine; Sandra Bullock, Gravity; Judi Dench, Philomena; Meryl Streep, August: Osage County

Best supporting actor

WINNER: Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club

Nominees: Barkhad Abdi, Captain Phillips; Bradley Cooper, American Hustle; Michael Fassbender, 12 Years a Slave; Jonah Hill, The Wolf of Wall Street; Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club

Best supporting actress
WINNER: Lupita Nyong'o
Nominees: Sally Hawkins, Blue Jasmine; Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle; Lupita Nyong'o, 12 Years a Slave; Julia Roberts, August: Osage County; June Squibb, Nebraska

Best director
WINNER: Alfonso Cuarón
Nominees: Alfonso Cuarón, Gravity; Steve McQueen, 12 Years a Slave; Alexander Payne, Nebraska; David O. Russell, American Hustle; Martin Scorsese, The Wolf of Wall Street

Best animated feature film
WINNER: Frozen
Nominees: The Croods; Despicable Me 2; Ernest & Celestine; Frozen; The Wind Rises

Best foreign film
WINNER: The Great Beauty
Nominees: The Broken Circle Breakdown, Belgium; The Great Beauty, Italy; The Hunt, Denmark; The Missing Picture, Cambodia; Omar, Palestine

Best original screenplay
WINNER: American Hustle, Eric Singer and David O. Russell
Nominees: American Hustle, Eric Singer and David O. Russell; Blue Jasmine, Woody Allen; Dallas Buyers Club, Craig Borten and Melisa Wallack; Her, Spike Jonze; Nebraska, Bob Nelson

Best adapted screenplay
WINNER: 12 Years a Slave, John Ridley
Nominees: Before Midnight, Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke; Captain Phillips, Billy Ray; Philomena, Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope; 12 Years a Slave, John Ridley; The Wolf of Wall Street, Terence Winter

Best original score
WINNER: Gravity
Nominees: The Book Thief; Gravity; Her; Philomena; Saving Mr. Banks

Best original song
WINNER: Let it Go from Frozen
Nominees: Alone Yet Not Alone, from Alone Yet Not Alone; Happy, from Despicable Me 2; Let It Go, from Frozen; The Moon Song, from Her; Ordinary Love, from Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom

Best cinematography
WINNER: Gravity
Nominees: The Grandmaster; Gravity; Inside Llewyn Davis; Nebraska; Prisoners

Best costume design
WINNER: The Great Gatsby
Nominees: American Hustle; The Grandmaster; The Great Gatsby; The Invisible Woman; 12 Years a Slave

Best documentary feature
WINNER: 20 Feet From Stardom
Nominees: The Act of Killing; Cutie and the Boxer; Dirty Wars; The Square; 20 Feet From Stardom

Best documentary short subject
WINNER: The Lady in Number 6
Nominees: CaveDigger; Facing Fear; Karama Has No Walls; The Lady in Number 6; Music Saved My Life; Prison Terminal: The Last Days of Private Jack Hall

Best film editing
WINNER: Gravity
Nominees: American Hustle; Captain Phillips; Dallas Buyers Club; Gravity; 12 Years a Slave

Best makeup and hairstyling
WINNER: Dallas Buyers Club
Nominees: Dallas Buyers Club; Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa; The Lone Ranger

Best production design
WINNER: The Great Gasby
Nominees: American Hustle; Gravity; The Great Gatsby; Her; 12 Years a Slave

Best animated short film
WINNER: Mr. Hublot
Nominees: Feral; Get a Horse!; Mr. Hublot; Possessions; Room on the Broom

Best live-action short film
WINNER: Helium
Nominees: Aquel No Era Yo (That Wasn't Me); Avant Que De Tout Perdre (Just Before Losing Everything); Helium; Pitaako Mun Kaikki Hoitaa? (Do I Have to Take Care of Everything?); The Voorman Problem

Best sound editing
WINNER: Gravity
Nominees: All Is Lost; Captain Phillips; Gravity; The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug; Lone Survivor

Best sound mixing
WINNER: Gravity
Nominees: Captain Phillips; Gravity; The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug; Inside Llewyn Davis; Lone Survivor

Best visual effects
WINNER: Gravity
Nominees: Gravity; The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug; Iron Man 3; The Lone Ranger; Star Trek Into Darkness

Stay Inspired...

Sources: Huffington PostUSA Today and NY Daily News