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

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

NwaVic's Wed2Plan Series: "Decision after Decision"


Believe it or not, it is one of the greatest plagues of wedding planning. In a practical sense, wedding planning involves making a series of decisions. These decisions pile onto each other to "ideally" create the perfect day. Each decision made allows you make another.

Making sound decisions is especially hard during wedding planing because not only is the process already stressful, you are getting bombarded with opinions from everyone about how YOUR wedding should look. It can get so irritating and confusing. Severally, I just wanted to crawl in and hide under a rock. But that's a story for another day. 

What's ironic is that wedding planning is born out of a single important decision- the decision to eternally commit to another person. Indecision can unnecessarily delay the entire process and cripple the dream day you had perfectly planned out in your head because practically, some things can't get done, if others aren't. For example, if you don't decide on your budget, you can't decide on how many guests you can afford to entertain. If you can't make a decision on the guest count, you can't pick your venue. If you are not sure about which venue to pick, you can't book a decorator or caterer.  And it goes on and on and on.

If you find yourself confused or feeling torn between choices, here are a few tips to help you move on with it. Literally. 

1. Seek Inspiration
Wealth of Inspiration is the beauty of the Internet age. You can go on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook and wedding magazine websites and feast your eyes and soul with options. The color schemes are endless, the wedding themes can be unbelievably creative and if you look well, something will eventually catch your attention and spark your excitement. For example, for my cake, I knew I wanted something regal but I also knew I wanted it to be colorful, so I went on Instagram, searched a few hash tags, and ended up combining inspiration from three cakes into mine. The product was a cake design that was beautiful and unique to me.

2. Narrow Your Options
After you get inspiration, make sure you have a top three or less "looks" or choices before you even start consulting with vendors. It will save you a lot of time and energy. It will communicate and direct the vendor to "where your mind is" and give them an idea of what you want, even before you know it. When I first met with my wedding planner about decoration, I knew I wanted something purply because that was my favorite color but I also didn't want my wedding reception to look like Disney world. So I also picked inspiration that had some metallic in it to neutralize the loudness. After looking at my top 3 pictures, it was my wedding planner who came up with the purple and gold idea that I fell in love with. 

3. Get a Wedding Planning "Posse"
At some point during wedding planning, every decision started to look the same to me. I lost patience for having to think through everything. Sometimes, the options seemed so overwhelming, I was tempted to procrastinate till I couldn't anymore. In times like that, you need a Wedding Planning "Posse" a.k.a "Board of Trustees" a.k.a "Wedding Decision Committee". A Planning "Posse" is a combination of a few people who have good taste, who have experience with planning a wedding and who trust to have your best interest. Emphasis on the "few"and "trusted". Your posse cannot consist of all 20 of your bridesmaids or every single one of your friends. Trust me, you will have enough of the numerous "opinions" from family and friends. The Posse should make your life easier not worse. 

You have to choose them wisely and make sure you choose people who won't get offended if you ultimately decide to ignore their advice. Choose people who are also readily available, at least by text. No one on your "Posse" should be hard to find or take years to reply a text or answer a phone call. Also, choose people who understand that it is your day and your decision, after all and that they are only there to "advise", not judge or impose. When you choose, you don't have to announce it (especially not on social media or those you didn't pick)..there's nothing official about it. Remember this is for your own sanity, protect it. If they are all cool with each other, you can create a text or whats app group where you can post options when you are confused and have them help you choose.  If not, you can reach out to them individually

My Posse consisted of five lovely ladies, including my wedding planner. Two of whom had previously planned their own weddings, one who was both stylish and I was sure had my best interests and of course, my wedding planner was the Olivia Pope of my entire wedding planning experience. Whenever I was indecisive, I would limit my options to top two or three and send to them for feedback. And unless my heart was tugging at something else, I trusted them well enough to go with what they chose.

4. Trust your Instinct/Gut
Every decision you make for your big day is important but sometimes, the price of indecision is loosing out on all the options entirely.  Indecision is masked fear that of choosing wrongly, without reason. In actuality, our hearts know things our mind can't explain. If something stands out to you enough for it to tug at you instinctively, trust your instinct. Again, if all else fails, repeat #2.

5. Don't Dwell
Once you make your decision, trust it. While the Internet gives you options and inspiration, it could also overwhelm you. Limit the chances of changes to valid reasons like budgetary costs or increased guest list. In order to move on, you can't keep searching for inspiration after you've made a decision. If not, you'll be endlessly stuck at one aspect of your wedding. I mentioned in another post how I kept looking at wedding dresses after I said "yes to the dress" and it was time wasted that I could've been using to make sure my ceremony song list was done. 

6. Focus on the Grand Scheme
Brides are known to sweat the small stuff. It's the notion "Bridezilla" is born out of. As a bride, your head is so clouded with endless details of a "fairytale" day that sometimes, you loose sight of the purpose of the wedding. Something WILL go wrong. Nothing will be perfect,t so try to focus on the big picture- You are planning a wedding because you have met the person who compliments you and with whom you would like to tackle life alongside (I assume!) and of all things, that is the most important. As long as the "decision" doesn't threaten the marriage itself, things will work out just fine. Even if you can't find the perfect stationary for the programs, remember it is just paper and it will be all forgotten by the time the jackets and shoes come off and the dance floor is on fire. 

I know this is easier said than done, but just remember, that day, you'll be marrying your best friend and your true loved ones don't care that your dress has a wrinkle. They will just be happy that you are happy. 

7.  A Little Prayer Goes a Long Way
Last but not least, take it to God. There's no desire too frivolous to say a prayer about, as long as it is not sinful. In those moments, when I felt like the wedding planning was overtaking me, I prayed for direction. Before meeting every vendor, I said a prayer for good instincts. 

True story. At some point, I was stuck between two seemingly amazing vendors. Both vendors had incredible experience, equal rave and ratings but I couldn't seem to decide who to choose. At some point, I was leaning towards vendor #1. I said a little prayer before one of my meetings to confirm with her. When I got there, her entire vibe was different. She didn't seem as she did before and suddenly, I started seeing beyond her faux "excitement". Needless to say, I never for once regretted choosing vendor #2. It was a sign. 

God has a way of bringing things together for the joy of those who love and trust Him.  Sometimes, the response to that prayer will be apparent but most times, it'll be subtle. In fact, often, it will just be a confident feeling knowing that God wouldn't let you make a disastrous decision.

Best of luck and 
Stay Inspired...... :-)
NwaVic||| |||Twitter & Instagram @nwavicesq

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Dear NwaVic: Am I having an Emotional Affair with my Work-Husband?

Dear NwaVic,

I work in an office of about 10 people. One of my colleagues and I have gotten close over the past year I have worked here. I am engaged and he is married. I see it as a friendship- we gist and joke around. Sometimes, we have lunch together. Nothing sexual has ever happened. Recently, my fiancé O and I got into a big argument about something related to our upcoming wedding and I told my co-worker about it. He advised me on how to handle it and even sided a bit with O. When I told my best friend about it, she accused me of having a work husband. She even said I was probably having an emotional affair on O. I was shocked. How can I be having an affair when I don't have romantic feelings for this person? I mean, I like him as a friend and love spending time with him. But I would choose O any day. Please help. This thing is driving me crazy.


Dear "Work-Wife?",

It's okay; you are not alone. I didn't know what a "work-spouse" was until a few years ago. It's basically an American term described as having a special relationship with a member of the opposite sex in your work place. The special relationship has similarities to that of a marriage because while you are at work, this "person" serves the purposes your husband or wife would, without of course the sexual part. For example, companionship, advice, friendship, inside jokes, support and loyalty. It starts out based on proximity. Think about it, most of us spend more time at work than we spend with our significant others. When kept simple and "boundaried", having a work spouse can be healthy and fun.  In fact, research has shown that workers are more productive at work when they have bonded relationships at work.

But like with every "special" relationship outside marriage, it can get tricky because that kind of special relationship without boundaries is recipe for disaster. Even if no sexual relationship ever spurns out of it, one or both parties may start getting emotionally attached and this may negatively impact your relationship with your spouse/partner. 

Let me play doctor for a minute. To help you diagnose the nature of your relationship with this colleague of yours, here are a few measuring signs to help you decipher the true nature of your relationship with your "co-worker".

1. You start looking forward to spending more time with your "co-worker" than with your significant other:
This is when you find yourself thinking about this "co-worker" even when you are with your significant other. For example, if someone offers you a fun opportunity and you'd rather share the experience with your "co-worker" than with your significant other or if when you have a new story or experience to share and you want to share it first with the "co-worker". You haven't given any indication of this so you are still safe in this regard.

2. You start "seriously" complaining about your significant other to your co-worker:
I think you may guilty of this. I have never been a fan of sharing details of a serious fight with your spouse because I've learned that long after I have forgiven and forgotten, the person I shared with will hold it against my spouse. In the same way, it's not advisable to bring a co-worker (no matter how friendly you are with them) into a dispute between you and your significant other. It does more damage than good because not only will it make your spouse feel insecure, it could paint a picture of your relationship to the co-worker than you never intended and create a confidential relationship that pushes the boundaries wide open.

3. You start to hide details of your relationship with "co-worker" from your significant other:
Just like with cheating, if you are having conversations or doing things with the co-worker in private that you cannot do if your significant other was watching, you are pushing the boundaries. Introduce your real-life spouse to your work-spouse. That way, the "work-marriage" doesn't seem exclusive. The only exclusive relationship you should have is with your significant other. 

4. You get jealous of the "co-worker"'s significant other: It us one thing to get territorial if another co-worker is stealing your "co-worker" from you. Even friends gets antsy about sharing their friends. However, it's an entirely different story if you start to look at this "co-worker"'s significant other with side-eye and wishing you were them.

5.  You look forward to work more than anything else because of them:
This point is simple. If your "feelings" for your co-worker starts to over take other "non-work" related activities or even spending time with your significant other, it's beyond a simple "work-marriage". Again, if you've ever found yourself consistently thinking about this co-worker outside of work and/while with your significant other, then it is becoming an emotional relationship. 

From what you've written, the only red flag I see and I'd advise you watch out for is sharing details about your fight with your fiancé. You say you'd choose O any day over your co-worker so make sure you protect your relationship by setting boundaries with your coworker. Make sure you are never alone with this co-worker. Make sure you don't drink alone with him. It's always advisable to mention this co-worker to your fiancé but thread lightly- you don't want to talk too much about this co-worker to your fiancé- men could easily misread such relationships. Either way, keep the communication lines at all ends open. If you ever find this overwhelming, then it's time to make a decision for one or the other. Remember that emotional relationships at work is very risky because if there's a disagreement of any kind, it could jeopardize your professionalism at work.

Some people, including some of my friends, believe that all outside relationships with the opposite sex need to be severed in order for long-term relationships and marriages to work. I am of a different school of thought because I am a master (or mistress -no pun intended) of creating boundaries. The debate on "whether or not men and women can  be friends" is one for another day and post. Ultimately, I'd say, draw the lines and in all things, never forget what and who is "real-life" and what and who is "9-5". 

Best of luck!

Oh and thank you for writing Dear Nwavic at  Hope this helped :-)

Stay Inspired!
NwaVic||| |||Twitter & Instagram @nwavicesq

Monday, August 10, 2015

NwaVic's Wed2Plan Series: 10 Tips to Help You Stick to Budget

So, a couple of weeks ago, I told you about making that killer budget. But putting a budget together is only a tip of the iceberg.  Anyone can put numbers into an excel spreadsheet. Sticking to it is an entirely different ball game. It is where the strength and discipline really lies. So here are a few tips to help you execute the most glamorous day in your life but still have a life afterwards. 

1. Cut Your Guest List: This is the first and most important tip I could ever give you especially if you are planning a wedding outside of Nigeria because most things are charged per head. The better you manage your guest count, the "more" wedding you'll have.   An over-crowded wedding will not only cost you on every front (food, drinks, decor, linen, cake, etc), the bodies could potentially "overshadow" the day you worked so hard to put together. 

My guest list was one of the most challenging aspects of planning my wedding. You would be surprised at the amount of people you don't know who just want to come and eat rice at your wedding. What they don't know is that the difference between 5 and extra guests could be the difference between you drinking garri or indomie and jellof rice in your matrimonial home.  I had be stern to that aunty who wanted to bring her cousin's cousin's wife and that long-time uncle who wanted to bring his random "lady friend". It wasn't a walk in the park and I'll be lying if I told you I didn't offend a few people. But in fact, it deserves an entire post on it's own. At the end of the day, G & I were spending our dime and anyone who was offended didn't love us enough to appreciate the value of our hard-earned dollars.  If you didn't budget for an extra guest, say no.  In your execution, just don't be rude.  If your guest count drops later, lucky them. But until then, this is your money you are talking about. Limit the guest count to family and friends who are genuinely happy for you and who have contributed to your life in a special way. I leave the rest for the Guest List post. But you get the drift.

2. Stay out of Social Media: Once you decide on something, stop searching for it. I remember I had already bought my dress and been to 3 alteration appointments. The dress was almost ready to pick up but yet I found myself constantly browsing through Instagram hashtags and wedding blogs looking at dresses. It was all fun and window-shopping bliss till I saw one that made me question that one I already had but cost almost double more than mine. It haunted me till I pulled myself back into reality. And now the day has come and passed, I have no regrets. Once you decide on what you like, stick to it and stay away from Instagram, FB and pinterest. Dreamy temptations are not good for the wallet.

3. Be Open-minded & Communicative: A lot of brides come into wedding planning with a perfect picture of how the wedding is supposed to look. Perhaps the cake is the 10-tiered cake you saw on "Cake Boss" or the suspended number you screen-shot from Instagram. When you meet with vendors, give them your idea as inspiration and your budget but work with them to see what they can give you for your budget. Mayb you can still have the 10-tiered cake but with only 7 real cake tiers. No one would notice. Another option is to display a smaller designed cake and have a sheet version of the same cake in the back to serve to guests. Maybe you can still have open-bar but don't open it till dinner is served. Maybe your photographer can leave an hour before the end time. Maybe some of your flowers can be fake: When mixed in well, the real flowers shout enough to cover for their faux counterparts. These all sound like little things but the money you save will eventually add up.

Lastly, consider doing a wedding on Friday or Sunday. You could pay half of what it costs to do a wedding on a Saturday. Weddings in off-wedding season (anytime before or after mid-April to mid-October) also make a big difference. I really wanted a June wedding as one of my priorities so this advice didn't apply to me but you can be more open-minded than me :-)

4. Time And Sales ! Sales! Sales! If you are not in a hurry, give yourself a bit of a longer engagement to get time to shop for sales and vendors with good deals. Research! Research Research! Attend bridal shows and holiday sales. Like I discussed in the earlier post about creating your budget, once you prioritize, be ready to cut costs on other aspects. Consider buying or renting some things for the wedding, for example pre-owned flower girl baskets and ring bearer pillows. If you spend money on some of these things, they will sit idle for eternity. So, make,, and your best friends and cut your costs where you can.

Another option is even if you must buy these things, be ready to sell them online after you use them. You can recover some of the costs and in the end, "practically" have stayed under your budget.

5. Get Handsy: If there's something you know you can do well yourself or with your friends and family, don't pay someone else to. I'm not the do-it-yourself artsy kind of girl and like to pay professionals do what they are trained to do but there were a few things I had to do myself to save money. For example, we had an amazing stationary company but they charged about $600 to put together our invitations so I had them design and print it but then I invited my sisters and close friends and bought food, wine and ice-cream and made a party out of the invitation-assemby line. My sister Ogo actually did more than that when she was planning her wedding- she bought the supplies and designed and printed the stationary herself!

6. Take the help: In the same spirit, "use" the people you can trust around you to get things done. While planning a wedding, people will reach out to you to ask what they can do to help. While I don't advise you delegate big tasks like the wedding coordinating itself, delegate the little stuff. Instead of paying a delivery fee for the bridesmaid dresses, I took my friend Oge on her offer to help and had her pick it up for me. Saved me $100 and bought Oge more love from me :-) 

What's more shocking was after my perfectly steamed dress got rumpled while carrying it on the plane from Mayland toTexas and I took it to get steamed and got a quote for $300 to get it re-steamed, I called my sister and whined they must be smoking crack. Instead of spending that "emergency" none, I called around and got a steamer and my loving aunty who was visiting from Nigeria was more than willing to steam the dress for me. I returned this favor for my cousin when she renewed her vows. I steamed her dress for her and saved her a good amount of money. 

*Be careful who you delegate to though-Always make sure it is someone you trust to accomplish the task and do it well. 

7. Use Your Connections: Inquire about sales and discounts from your vendors. For e..g your photographer may know a videographer s/he can call for you and get a discount. One of the perks of having a wedding planner is that they often have discounted plans with vendors. So if you have one, use the contact and save some money.

8. Play Smart & Negotiate!: A good number of vendors will first ask you what your budget is. Then, proceed to quote you a bit more than that. So, when you are asked, give about 20% less than your budget really is. That way, you can play safe incase they quote you more. It gives you a better bargaining stance. 

9. Don't Forget Ms. Miscellaneous: Remember her? The mischevious creepy surprise that creeps up in your wallet last minute that I talked in my post about creating the budget itself. I'm saying it again here because it will happen. So, make sure you budget for last minute mishaps. That way, you can accommodate surpass expenses without going over your budget. Simply put.

10. Budget for Taxes and Service/Labor fees: A lot of brides in the U.S. don't know this but when each vendor gives you a price, it doesn't include taxes, service, labor or delivery fee, if applicable. So, for each item on your budget, provide for at least an additional 10 to 25%. If you pre-plan for it, it won't tip you over.

Ultimately, remember this is a one-day event. So, avoid spending money on frivolous things that even you won't remember exist that day. Like I said prioritize and be wise!

Hope this helps! Best of Luck!

Happy Spending!
Stay Inspired,||| |||Twitter & Instagram @nwavicesq

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Self-Reflection: Loving Your "Weird"

“It is necessary ... for a man to go away by himself ... to sit on a rock ... and ask, 'Who am I, where have I been, and where am I going?” - Carl Sandburg

I have always known I was different. Not special. Just different. 

As a little girl, I was the child (and still am) who said what everyone was thinking and then wondered why everyone was shocked that I said it. After all, they were thinking it. I'd then carry on like nothing happened. Amongst my sisters, like a sore thumb, I stuck outs. They liked sitting pretty and I liked playing with the guys. I remember my dad's friends would be in the parlor having a serious meeting and I would show up with a pack of WHOT cards and challenge them to a game. Funny enough,  often enough, they would pause and indulge me at least once. 

I remember on one occasion, we were visiting my grandfather's palace in Awka and he was having a meeting with his elders. My grandfather, a king, was a very stern man. By his presence alone- tall, broad shoulders and very light skinned, he commanded attention. As strict as he was, he was a very loving man. After every visit, I was sure to leave with a packet of Digestive biscuits (which I loved) and N100 from him. I looked forward to every visit like it was Christmas. Even though all the grandkids knew to stay out of his way, we loved lurking around him. One day, I went one step further. While he was meeting with his elders, I walked in and sat on his lap. He balanced me on his lap and asked the elder who was talking to carry on. The elder, bewildered, asked in Igbo language, "a 5-year old child has no business in an elder meeting." My grandfather paused and asked, "Okwuchirigi uzo?" meaning, "Does her presence block you?" The elder shrugged and continued. My grandfather never spoke about it with me. But I doubt he knows the impact he made on me. That day, he taught me that it was okay to be fearless.

Over the years, my fearlessness has taken me to heights caution won't have taken me and has helped me accomplish things at a young age I would never have dreamed of if I had thought much into it. In the same way, it has cost me a few things and people because indeed, somethings and people in life require caution and time. With every set back, I have doubted myself and wondered why my thought process, expectations and tolerance were so different. But then, with every success I am reminded that the prints in my palm are special to my destiny and that it's my uniqueness that I can find unique prosperity.

We are all made differently and understanding this about yourself and people around you is the first step to maintaining stronger relationships with not only family, friends and people we come across daily but yourself. Things that set me off may be your calming effect and vice versa. Sometimes, we are upset by someone's actions but can't figure out why. To know yourself, is to know your triggers, expectations and insecurities. What makes you happy and what makes your walls shoot up? How can someone else understand you if you don't even understand yourself?

It's not an easy task to take on and it doesn't come easily. It takes effort. All through high school, we believed knowing ourselves meant knowing what color we loved, what kind of music we liked or what boy or girl we liked. This is deeper. Getting to know yourself as an adult is less about hobbies and more about understanding what experiences or lack thereof have molded your values, personality, habits, priorities, or moods. It is a process that involves stepping back from what you were taught as "normal" and finding where you fit on the scope.  As prolific reading puts it,

"Knowing yourself means understanding your strengths and weaknesses, your passions and fears, your desires and dreams. It means being aware of your eccentricities and idiosyncrasies, your likes and dislikes, and your tolerances and limitations. Knowing yourself means knowing your purpose in life. Or coming really darn close to finding it out!"

I know more about myself every day. Every night, part of bed time for me is a conscious drifting that's either  drowsed or awakened by the events of the past 24 hours. As sleep begs to take over, my mind replays every single event of my conversations, my interactions,  and my work. You could call it self-reflection because it is indeed introspection into my motives, my actions and ultimately my character. I picture myself in a white wig sitting in polished wood above a heavily organized room spattle in hand, at the same time, another version of me behind a smooth polished wood only smeared by the sweat of my finger prints. In that moment, I am face-to-face with myself. I find peace in the "conscious-drifting" because I know the wigged- me is not is assessing based on what I know to be right, wrong and improve-able. In that serene time, I find myself seeing things in ways I never could ever have and often realize things I said that I shouldn't have, actions I took that could've been misread and motives I never knew I had. In retrospect, the seemingly simple comments I made a few hours ago can make me shudder. Ulitmately, I try to take the mistakes of my Tuesday into lessons for Wednesday. To be better, not for others; But for myself because not only will self reflection continuously reveal purpose, it is being a better me that I can always ensure that my loved ones truly enjoy the value of loving me.

In your self-reflection, don't be too hard on yourself. It is not about judging your weaknesses for self-pity, it is about knowing them, embracing them, and working them for your good. 

The older I get, the more I learn about me. The more I learn about me, the more I love about me. The more I love about me, the more I can discern my purpose for being here. 
We all have a bit of weird. I am weird. You are weird. Just love your weird.

Stay Inspired,
NwaVic||| |||Twitter & Instagram @nwavicesq

Image Source: Google Images