A Smashing Blog to Read

Because the call me Smashley

And puppy makes three — September 15, 2015

And puppy makes three

I haven’t published much this year because my Very Important Deep Thoughts on Life* are mostly about being a newlywed and involve another person. That person — obviously, my husband — may or may not care to have his personal business posted on my blog for the seven or so people who read it.

We have a new member in our little family. Team AJ is now tEam AJ with the addition of R.E.B. “Emmie” Baylor, a rescue from Dallas Animal Services. Before I get into how this addition came to be, let me introduce The Emmie Dog!

When I met my husband, we had the talk about pets. I’m such an animal lover that I couldn’t wrap my mind around someone’s proclaimed indifference to pets, but I saw how he treated other pets with affection. He told me about how the loss of his own pets hurt him, and I understood. My Peanut was my best friend and most reliable companion for 15 years, and losing her was devastating. Taking a plunge into an emotional relationship that is guaranteed to be relatively short-lived is a tough commitment, and this time I needed to be sure enough for the both of us.

I didn’t take adopting a dog lightly and was happy to commit to all the responsibility and care of the right one. I knew that once I got out and about and started actively looking, the right pup would come along. I went to the shelter in Petsmart on the advice of a friend. I saw lots of dogs, but on the advice of a worker, gave extra consideration to a sweetheart they called Missy. I knew this dog was The One because she was so responsive, affectionate, sweet, and clearly sharp. Any fissure of doubt I had about adopting this dog evaporated when the staff asked us to pose for the 37,000th adoption picture, and Emmitt gave me a huge kiss as the shutter clicked.

Emmie has worked hard to win over my husband, and I’m touched to say the affection is mutual. Today one of his sisters said on Facebook that he would make a great father, and I have seen proof with my own eyes. I’m so blessed by my family! Emmie is a wonderful addition to our family. I love to hear her snores when she sleeps and happy yips every time Jeff comes home. I love to hear Jeff sing to Emmie. I’m so blessed, and I couldn’t be happier.

*These Seriously Important thoughts include such vital topics as why the quadruple roll of Charmin is so much nicer than the triple roll of Cotonelle, why TCU fans seem to be total douche weasels about football yet offer nary a mention of any other Big 12 sport, wondering what dogs and babies dream about, and pondering why my sleeping habits are pretty crappy. Also, Covet.

True or False: Introvert edition — February 8, 2015

True or False: Introvert edition

My husband busts on me a little bit about being introverted, but mostly because he, like many people, doesn’t quite understand what introversion is and isn’t. I can’t blame anybody for that, because I didn’t quite get it myself until I was in my mid-20s.

When I take personality tests, I rate right down the middle between introvert and extrovert. I suppose I’m an outgoing introvert. For people who don’t really get what “introvert” means, an “outgoing introvert” must sound like a contradiction, which is the first FALSE I can think of. Being an introvert means that I recharge my battery being alone, or being alone with one person who I’m close enough to that we can either talk or not talk and feel comfortable. I can even recharge with a group of people like my close family or very close friends. Once I had breakfast at a busy restaurant with four friends and felt utterly rejuvenated: At the time I said to my friends that being with them felt like coming home.

I read an interesting article tonight about ways to love an introvert. I agree with a lot of it and would call those points true, but first I have to pick apart what I think is false. I mean, the second sentence is complete rubbish:

Where extroverts are social creatures, introverts are most certainly not.

The author wrote a sloppy introduction to an otherwise pretty spot-on article, and if I were his editor I would have red-flagged this and asked for clarification. Saying that extroverts are social and introverts are “most certainly not” is essentially saying that introverts are anti-social. FALSE. I am most certainly social and introverted. In some situations, I feel socially awkward, mostly because these days I worry about not meeting my husband’s expectations. I genuinely enjoy getting to know people; I’m very interested in knowing more about my people. One TRUE thing about the Lifehacker article, in which the author totally contradicts his statement I’ve quoted above is:

If you label introverts as [shy or anti-social], then you obviously don’t understand them …. Most introverts love to meet people. It’s just that while extroverts enjoy small talk, introverts would rather discuss deeper issues in a more intimate setting.

Last weekend, we went to a party … actually we went to two parties in a row! At the first party, I knew exactly four people — the hostess-slash-guest of honor, her husband, my husband, and a guy I’ve met once. At one point, the three guys took off to do something manly or carry heavy things, and I was left alone at a table with a youngster. She was pretty clearly feeling awkward, and I was sitting there telling myself, “You’re the adult, start talking to this kid! Why don’t you know what to say to her? It’s your responsibility to put this girl at ease. What should you say?? Think, think, think … how do you break the ice with an 8-year-old you’ve just met?” Eventually, I had the idea to bring up the universal topic of food! That broke the ice and we were soon friends, but those few minutes have lingered in my mind. With that in mind, I think the following is mostly TRUE:

Don’t leave them hanging at a social event.

Writing this has helped me realize so much about how I need to communicate with my husband! Yay! And I happily call one last point from the article very TRUE:

Explain how you perceive the world differently …. Introverts love to listen, so why don’t you tell us all about it? We would both benefit if we learned from each other.

At the party last weekend, the husband-of-honor told me that he holds back around me because I’m an introvert. FALSE. I’m not scared of people or different personalities or extroverts. I process internally, and perhaps to some slowly, but I still want to know you.

WHAT UP 2015!?!? — January 2, 2015

WHAT UP 2015!?!?

I’m doing it: 2014 retrospective! Sorry so sappy, but my blog is nothing but trying to reinforce lessons I’ve learned, process life, and sort my thoughts. Meanwhile, a bit of a show I’m re- re- re- re- re-watching on Netflix struck me as a great theme for the thoughts of last year and aspirations for next! From an episode of Gilmore Girls:

Lorelai: Wait, wait. Look around for a second. Notice?
Rory: Notice what?
Lorelai: It’s not so scary anymore.
Rory: No, it’s not.

Pretty much everything I’ve ever been anxious about worth being anxious about includes that moment of realization that “this isn’t so scary anymore.”

In chronological order of things to be scared of this year:

  • I left a great job for another great job. A few months later, I was laid off.
  • I got engaged!
  • I planned a wedding! Although it wasn’t perfect, it was a blast. I have family and friends who made everything happen, and I love those folks overwhelmingly.
  • I got married!
  • I have an exciting career opportunity!

I wrote a little bit about my wedding, but that was a combination of trying to edit my disappointment while emphasizing the most positive parts. Meanwhile, our experiences and memories were a little different.

I met some fantastic people this year. People who I’ve known and loved had gone above and beyond for me. My husband is a rock star, in more ways than one. 2014 was good for us, but I am convinced 2015 will be much better!

A Timeline of Insomnia — December 8, 2014

A Timeline of Insomnia

Sometimes I can’t sleep because I can’t slow my thoughts. Sometimes I can’t sleep when I’m sick or in pain. Most of the time when I can’t sleep, it’s because I’m worried or anxious. In a short span of time — say, the last four weeks — I’ve battled insomnia because of all of the above.

A few weeks ago
7:00 a.m.
My phone’s clock got a little messed up (OK, fine, I change the clock to sometimes to get more lives in Candy Crush), and I dreamt that I had fallen asleep on the couch around 11:00 p.m., and then got up an hour later and washed up and went to bed. My husband actually woke me up around 7:00 a.m. and told me to go to bed, but I thought it was about 4 a.m. When he woke me up later to tell me he made waffles, I thought it was about 9:30. He came in again at what I thought was 10:00, and I finally got up after 30 minutes of dozing. The reality was that I actually got up at 2:00 p.m. That’s when I discovered my crazy swollen face.

2:00 p.m.
After I showered, I tried to eat the waffle my husband made for breakfast. Eating was incredibly painful. My face was crazy swollen. I had no idea what was going on. I finally palpated the swollen area, and immediately I whispered and gestured to my husband that I had to see a doctor. I’d lost my voice several days earlier, so communication was painful, in more than one way. He called around to try for an appointment, and finally I suggested a clinic around the corner from us by way of handing him my iPhone with the clinic’s info pulled up. He called, and they were ready for us and less expensive than the triage clinic he’d called.

5:20 p.m.
The doc at the clinic suggested that I fill my prescriptions at a Target pharmacy because the most expensive meds were heavily discounted there. The first Target was closing 7 minutes after we arrived, but the pharmacist called around for us. My husband got us to the next Target in minutes, and I had three prescriptions in hand — plus a chai latte — by 5:20.

6:30 p.m.
At this point, I hadn’t really eaten all day and had tons of drugs to take. My pain was awful, I was scared by the diagnosis and sad and miserable. Keep in mind, I could not speak — my throat was so swollen that the doctor ordered me to not even whisper for a week. My husband picked up some tomato basil soup for me from our favorite Italian restaurant (he’s not a total saint; he got himself a giant thing of lasagna, too!). I took my first round of meds and naively settled down with my soup.

I took one sip of soup and burst into tears. The doctor told me I had a peritonsillar abscess, which meant nothing to me. But attempting to swallow a savory soup with lots of pepper and flavor and acid with a raw abscess felt like I was stabbed in the ear with a downward trajectory to the throat. It’s just an area that can’t be soothed. The reality of my condition began to settle on me.

I tried to eat a couple of things, but everything hurt. I was bawling in pain, made worse by the fact that crying made my throat and sinuses hurt even more. Messy, horrible pain. My husband made me some mashed potatoes, which I could swallow enough of to get some food in my stomach with all the medications. I knew that I had to eat enough to take the meds. I also knew that I had to take the meds to feel well enough to eat.

10:00 p.m.
I went to bed, but an hour later I got up and took some cough medicine. Although it helped with the cough, it didn’t help me sleep. The next three hours I mostly spent obsessing about my situation.

I went to bed again, but spent the next hour making mental notes of which med did what to make sure I always have the optimal combination in my system. I slept for about 10 minutes, but I woke up coughing.

At this point, I couldn’t keep my mind off of three things, which kept me awake: The searing pain of that little rib muscle that is only used to cough on my left side that was overused over the last week, the painful swelling in the right side of my face and neck — meaning that sleeping on either side was uncomfortable — and the ever-present song stuck in my head when I wake up. The song changes, but the fact that I always wake up with a song playing in my head does not.

The next three hours went something like this:

Dun dun dun dun, dun dun dundundundun fight you bruins bold,
Go Bears!
Dun dun something something green and gold,
Go Bears!
Dun dun da dun Is the second verse different from the first?
Go Bears!
Are the rhymes the same, or is
Go Bears!
It just the one verse over and over?
Da da da dun, dun dun dun dun dundun dun dun DUN!

(Here is how it actually goes:)

Yes, I woke up with my school’s fight song stuck in my head. With my alma mater on my brain, then I started composing responses to some of the nastier comments I read on Facebook about the whole Big 12 conference getting shut out of the college football playoffs. I saw a lot more vitriol than I care to consume, and part of me wanted to log on the next morning and come out swinging. So, in my mind, I retaliated in the same fashion that I replay a heated discussion or uncomfortable confrontation in my mind and get to say all the things I wish I would have said.

First on my mental list was to shut down the fan-bashing. With pointless, ill-conceived, and clearly an uneducated comment, an acquaintance of mine from high school took to Facebook to accuse the fans of the Big 12 for the conference’s “comical” out-of-conference games.

Thanks for the note, buddy! I never would have thought of that on my own. P.S. You watch too much ESPN.
Thanks for the note, buddy! I never would have thought of that on my own. P.S. You watch too much ESPN.

Because it’s us, the fans, who made the rule that disallows a conference championship, which then led to being force-fed a season-long “one true champion” campaign, only to have feckless conference leadership refuse to back any one team and present co-champions?! The fans are frustrated, and I’ve seen otherwise lovely people get nasty for all the world to see because of it. If I were the least bit confrontational, I’d share with this individual — who clearly watches too much ESPN and knows too little of the Big 12 fans and its conference rules — a more educated perspective, but I’m passive aggressive and take to my own blog, which no one will ever see. At least I can hopefully sleep better feeling vindicated to actually write it down instead of only obsessing about it instead of sleeping.

The next day
5:30 a.m.
More medicine, and then I checked my Twitter feed to distract myself from anxiety about the swelling in my throat that was beginning to impede my ability to breathe and swallow. I read the Our Daily Bears blog and checked the Baylor subreddit, too, because both are usually pretty chill, but I saw I accidentally read one TCU fan’s comment about how “unlikable” Baylor fans are for “storming the field after every win as if they didn’t expect to win.”

In these quiet morning hours, I mentally composed another confrontational message (again, I’m too non-confrontational to say these thoughts to the offender, but just passive aggressive enough to immortalize them for my own jollies on my blog). In calmer moments, I wonder: Shouldn’t other fans accept school traditions they don’t get? I mean, Texas A&M (with all due respect to my niece and many alumni friends) still observes 100 percent of their anti-University of Texas traditions, despite the fact that they will never play UT in any sport ever again. No one cranks about that except me giving my niece some fair natured teasing!

For the record, bitter old horney frog: We’re not “storming the field” like we didn’t expect to win, we’re observing our traditions. We begin the game with students on the field. We end the game with students and fans on the field. In my day, we went onto the field to pray with Coach Teaff and the football team after the teams play their school songs. Then the Golden Wave Band plays the Tennessee Waltz, which is really beautiful to hear on the field.

Before any other cranky horn frogs can bitch about us “storming the field” to hear an irrelevant song, let’s review some more facts. Baylor University was chartered by the Republic of Texas, those very folks who were grateful to and benefited from the volunteer army from the great state of Tennessee. We get to play the damn Tennessee Waltz to honor the volunteer army the same way we play the national anthem, so shut it. C’mon down to the field and give it a listen, because you will agree that it’s beautiful to hear.

Also, why so mean and bitter, horny toad?! The Baylor-TCU rivalry is long-standing, and to my mind, friendly. We invented homecoming for y’all, after all. Granted, traditions are SO MUCH MORE FUN to observe when you win. But you know that, too, horny frogs! You’re just as marginalized as Baylor is as small church school. Baylor and TCU have a lot in common, now more than ever. Let’s be friends and build the Big 12 up instead of tearing each other down.

Two rounds of meds in, the day is easier. My symptoms are reduced, but the pain is not. I sleep. I’m a slave to my next round of meds.

Twenty-five hours later
I’m more confident about what I can eat. Eventually, I sleep sitting up. Laying down is too uncomfortable.

I tried to sleep on a pillow, but it was too painful.

Eighteen hours later
The swelling has significantly reduced. The antibiotics are awful, but the peritonsillar abscess is definitely reduced. The Baylor fight song is finally gone from my mind, and I’m able to focus somewhat on other things.

I nap.

Later, I sleep again upright on the couch.

Three days without significant sleep. I don’t recommend it. From now on, I’m going to the doctor sooner instead of waiting because meds help. Sleep is crucial, and I’m grateful for the help that allowed all my healing sleep.

Twelve days of Christmas
Despite my illness, I dragged myself to stores to buy gifts for my husband. I wrapped them over several days. I had stocking stuffers, but honestly I was too sleep deprived and sick-tired for an all-out Christmas.

Once I felt better, I baked with the idea of distributing baked good to our families. Too bad I had no energy to pack or ship my precious baked goods to Jeff’s family. I didn’t factor that energy need into my plan to shower my husband’s family with lovingly made treats.

I was lucky that my family decided to celebrate our Christmas in the new year. I was super happy that my first married Christmas would be at home, alone, with my husband. His cousin’s family welcomed us on Christmas Eve, and sharing the evening with their whole family was wonderful before we attended a gorgeous candlelight service at church. We are incredibly blessed!

Happy new year
My husband had insomnia recently. I talked to him about anything happy I could think of until he finally drifted off. He’s a much better sleeper than I am, so it seems odd that he needed my help!

Although I’ve had a great deal of anxiety about getting laid off and getting married, this new year signified something in my mind, like I should have resolved all my own unanswered questions and single-handedly created a family budget, complete with joint accounts and easy-to-use envelopes that would make Dave Ramsey weep with joy. Instead I’m still struggling with some questions I’ve asked myself and trying to figure out how to be married financially. A couple of nights ago, I couldn’t stop thinking about these topics, and therefore didn’t sleep until about 5 a.m.

Being that tired definitely affects my work, so I’ve set some new goals for myself about sleep. If I’m feeling anxious at 11:00 p.m., that’s a sign that I’ll be wound up at 1:00 a.m., which means sleeplessness or fitful sleep until morning. If I have any resolutions this year, it’s about addressing sleep. Without good sleep, I can’t be productive. Without being productive, I cannot bear myself.

Unconventional newlyweds — November 9, 2014

Unconventional newlyweds

A few weeks before my wedding, my mom asked me if Bible verses I memorized when I was young came back to me when I needed them. My answer is resoundingly, yes. Specifically, “But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart.” Bible verses come to my mind all the time, and more when I need them. As my wedding day neared, that verse has stuck with me, and it has also come to mind during many times of major life changes.

I don’t know which came first — my need to treasure and ponder, or the Biblical justification that such a need exists. Either way, I tend to treasure and ponder. I haven’t been able to articulate how that tendency parlays into another ability I have, and I wish I could. I’ve been interviewing for new professional opportunities, and a side effect of all this professional soul searching is a renewed discovery in my innate skill to appreciate the big picture without losing my commitment to the smallest detail. Somehow, this ability and personal penchant are two sides of the same strength in my mind.

I got married almost two weeks ago. Wedding planning was another great way to blend my professional penchant for the process of executing a big picture. I love the big picture, but I love making it all happen. As time ticked down, I surrendered my responsibility to execute every little detail, and I’m so happy with the results. I did commit to the details that were crucial to me, and I had those experiences. Those are the important moments that I treasure and will forever ponder.

One moment I really wanted was with my dad and my sister. When Jeff and I got engaged I remember specific snapshots of my heart. I have those precious memories mentally frozen that made the event special. The first snapshot of my heart on my wedding day is first when my dad saw me in my dress. He’s a charmer! But just before my sister queued up to walk down the aisle, she tossed a look to me and dad over her shoulder and gave us a wink and a smile. That’s EXACTLY why I wanted my sister to be with me and Dad until we took our turn down the aisle.

I should probably verbalize to my sister how important she is to me, huh? I’ve heard of “Daddy’s girl” (yes, I am), and “Mama’s girl” (and I’m that, too), but I’m also a “sister’s girl.” My sister’s a bad ass.

For the record, I have sisters by another mother. They are bad ass, too. Getting married rocked my world way beyond the husband part. I love my husband, but I’m joyously overwhelmed by the other sister elements.

I have small, tiny regrets about our wedding day that I forgot or discarded for the sake of prioritization on the day. We forgot things that we never even missed, but the instances when a well paid vendor failed to deliver have plagued me. Those miscommunications have eaten away at me more than I anticipated. Some other troubles that I anticipated came to pass, and I wasn’t able to adequately articulate a solution during the day, and unfortunately that stressed other people who I didn’t want to stress.

Those minor regrets, which I take full responsibility for, have plagued me in the last few days. They began to outweigh the many precious moments from my wedding that I treasure and ponder. I’ve had dreams since the wedding in which I both did and didn’t confront the vendors. I’ve had dreams since the wedding in which guests confront me about these minor regrets. Because my husband left town for work two days after our wedding, I’ve had “Phantom Jeff” dreams that he was home and moving around or talking to me. Although my dreams are crazy with a side of nuts, I miss my mister more than I thought possible.

Acknowledging all that, my husband is home and my wedding was FABULOUS! Jeff woke up a few minutes ago and asked me how I was awake. I said goodnight, and that I’m awake because I’m writing. Once more for the record, my sister and brother-in-law are the best there are.

State Fair of Texas, y’all — October 13, 2014

State Fair of Texas, y’all

Big Tex
Big Tex

We went to the State Fair today, which was more of an adventure than it has been in ages. We scored free tickets and took the DART Rail, which really gave our budget more bang for the buck!

After a quick meet and greet with Big Tex, we hit the auto show, the Hall of State (my favorite building in Fair Park because of the architectures, Jeff’s favorite building ever because he met Phil Collins in its sacred halls), and then headed to a new show this year. My favorite show for the last 20 or so years has been a really cool bird show. This show had parrots singing, but also eagles released from the top of the ferris wheel, falcons catching prey mid-air, and owls circling the outdoor stage. It was always impressive, and I was so sad that they retired. I’d read that the show replacing it was great, and happily the Wild West Pet Show didn’t disappoint! Dogs, cats, pigs, geese, and ducks were on-hand to entertain. We enjoyed a bit of the Memories of Elvis show, too.

We got to ride the Texas SkyWay and see amazing views of the Dallas skyline. Today was extremely windy, so I had a death-grip on the bench at the halfway point because our car was swaying wildly, but other than that I was able to enjoy the ride and the company.

For anyone who’s been to the State Fair of Texas, you know if you’re not there for the football, it’s about the food. So, here’s the food. We tried the funnel fries, which is really the only way to eat funnel cake. Because of the aforementioned gusting winds, this was the first time today I was covered in powdered sugar. It tastes great and brushes off a black shirt easily, but it burns in the eyes a bit.

State Fair of Texas deep fried bacon
State Fair of Texas deep fried bacon

Jeff got the “fried breakfast for dinner” that he really wanted, which he enjoyed. I had one of my favorites, Texas Tornado Twister, a.k.a. fancy potato chips. I skipped the delicious homemade lemonade this year because we had a lot of other sugar, but it’s another one of my State Fair favorites. I got a “bird dog,” which is a Fletcher’s corny dog made with a turkey frank, but not before we spotted the deep fried bacon.

I tasted the fried bacon, and as a non-bacon-eater, it was a tasty, crispy, salty, fried snack. Jeff loved it.

We looked at the fried Thanksgiving dinner, and I wish I would have found it earlier, because I would have tried it in lieu of the bird dog. We also looked at the chocolate strawberries, but Jeff ended up getting chocolate covered almonds.  Then we got a deep fried s’more! State Fair of Texas will literally deep fry anything. Unfortunately, it’s usually soooo good.

These indulgences do not come without a price. I, for one, am eating nothing but salad until the wedding in 12 days!I feel like I’ll be sweating grease until mid-Wednesday.

Because of the crazy winds, a tree fell on the DART Rail power lines, and all the rails in downtown Dallas were down. Instead of hopping a train to downtown, switching to a northbound train and being on our merry way, we had to queue up outside of the Baylor hospital station to catch a bus to a rail station with power. The bus lines were crazy and misinformation was rampant, but we were lucky to get on a bus going the right way in about 30 minutes, and then on a train headed home. We are home over-fed, under budget, and happily exhausted.

P.S. My feet are killing me from wearing closed toe shoes for the first time in months. Poor tootsies!

A very wedding post — September 20, 2014

A very wedding post

I try very hard not to constantly talk about my wedding all the time, in person and online, but we are closing in and today was a banner day! I’ve managed my fair share of big projects and events before, but this is the first of either that changes my life forever. While meeting with our caterer and cake baker, Christine, I described my approach to our wedding: Instead of finding a checklist of all the traditional wedding things I “need” to do or have, I built up from scratch with the mindset that Jeff and I are getting married, and we want to celebrate!

One thing required to celebrate is definitely cake, and we had a lot of cake today at our tasting. Christine told us to pick all the flavors we wanted to try, but we only wanted to taste what we could see ourselves actually having. That’s a good approach in theory, but we couldn’t resist several flavors.

Wedding Cake Tasting
Wedding Cake Tasting

Although we got to the point that we wanted to talk specifics, we kept eating! The cake samples were pretty much devoured. Food and cake are pretty much nailed down. Whew!

I also bought our wedding bands today. Huzzah!! I didn’t get the one I’d had my eye on all this time, but I’m so happy with what I got. It matches Jeff’s ring more, and it’s a ring I’ve adored since the first holiday season I worked at James Avery years ago.

Among my other accomplishments, I survived a Walmart today. I, of my own volition, entered a Walmart. I wanted to price check some wedding decorations, but I also needed some crafty items. I also justified that I needed a bottle of wine, and Walmart was the only place with everything I needed. I rocked through all of my list in a sprint until I hiked from household to food and made a straight-shot for the wine aisle. Of course, because it was Walmart, a patron in a motorized cart moved and adjusted her cart to align with the entrance to the wine aisle! She didn’t just randomly end up blocking the aisle, she stopped, reversed, adjusted, and proceeded to set up camp. I witnessed two “excuse me” interactions and attempted my own, but she cared not a jot for blocking us from our booze.

Although I was annoyed that I had to go down another aisle just to come up the wine aisle, I figured the extra steps would help to counteract the cake tasting to come! Come on, though, no one at Target or Tom Thumb blocks people from the booze aisle. That wacky stuff only happens at Walmart.

The good news from my Walmart adventure? I now have a cake topper (such a random, unnecessary piece of fluff! I was not going to spend a cent on one of those stupid cake toppers, such as the bride dragging the groom, or the ball-and-chain crap, or Hello 80s! something from Precious Moments.) But I was willing to make something that went with our theme!

Another project finished after the trip to Walmart was a sign I want to hang in a grouping my mom, sister, and I planned to draw attention to the door to the bathroom. My mom acquired an antique room divider years ago, but she hasn’t done much with it. The wood is old, and the hinges are old, but it’s really pretty. We decided to use it as a decoration instead of as an actual room divider because, frankly, it needed more work than I cared to exert. My sister and I have dubbed it the Janky White Thing (JWT). I have almost completed the decoration for the middle of the JWT!

Decorations, rings, food… whew! Today was a very “wedding” day, and this is a very wedding post. I’m winding down tonight with wine and Wheat Thins.


Protected: Wedding Venue — August 10, 2014
Another marketing rant — July 30, 2014

Another marketing rant

I believe that Future Ashley will forgive another marketing rant because I know she’ll appreciate the reminder to remain passionate about messaging and branding! On with the rant…

I got a call today from a recruiter. First, she told me that my resume was “neat.” Almost 20 years of professional experience is … neat?! Next, she told me that the “social media mastermind” position she was trying to fill was a part-time, entry-level opportunity.

Let’s be frank: The exec who commissioned — or likely finally agreed to commission — a social media marketing role has little or no understanding of this thing called “social media.” He or she had probably been worn down by others and finally agrees that “social media” is a thing, and it’s here to stay. He or she thinks that hiring a minimum wage student to handle the social media issue for 20 hours a week will solve the issue of the board or share holder or other exec approval. For two or three months, that exec is going to be pretty proud.

The problem with hiring someone who can fog a mirror to handle your social media presence is that’s who you’ve hired to manage your reputation. “Social media” has become a thing that too many businesses don’t or can’t accept. I’ve been saying since 2008: People are already talking about you online. Do you want to participate in and hopefully control the conversation?

Offering minimum wage for a “social media mastermind” is a giant I DON’T CARE ABOUT MY BRAND to your customers. The commissioning exec thinks that he or she has checked that box — Hey, I’ve got a dedicated social media person! Sadly, that minimum wage-earning person gives not a jot for your brand, and has only the experience the commissioning exec thinks you need! I suspect that this particular position is looking for someone to broadcast a simple message, probably several times a week. What that person fails to realize is that social media is a conversation. It’s not enough to broadcast a message. You have to listen, respond, ask, and discuss. That person needs a brain between their two listening ears to craft timely, brand-worthy responses. You cannot simply broadcast your agenda.

Delighting your customers is the best social media strategy. Responding to customers while staying on-message is also a huge factor. Don’t offer minimum wage for your reputation management if you care about your brand or reputation.

All roads lead to marketing. — July 11, 2014

All roads lead to marketing.

All roads lead to marketing in my world. I absolutely expected that some of my marketing-fu would help me in my wedding planning — I’ve worked with printers, so doing my own invitations and other stationery is fun and easy; creating a wedding website and app was pretty fun, too. I can maintain a mean Pinterest board that should be the envy of other brides! Fellow marketers, stick with me because you’ll share my pain.

I was perusing a wedding forum tonight, and I clicked on a thread that was supposedly about RSVP etiquette. The bride was worked up because five days before the requested RSVP deadline, only a third of her guests had responded. And she had even included a QR code on the invitation for their convenience!!!

The thread then took a turn for the worse: QR code enablement. As the self-congratulatory comments amongst those who did or will embrace the QR code on their wedding invitations continued — because it’s so easy and convenient for their guests! — I started laughing. I was staring at my iPhone and laughing. My first impulse was to email a former colleague who really fed my distaste for the QR code, but the email blossomed into this post. Some rants need to be saved for Future Ashley to re-read.

I used a QR code on my business card ... four years ago!
I used a QR code on my business card … four years ago!

My basic distrust of using a QR code for anything is that you have to rely on a random third party to ably deliver your message. You can generate your own QR code, and you can design and awesome mobile-friendly page, site, or microsite, but you are helpless when it comes to how your audience captures your code and renders your message!

My aforementioned colleague introduced me to the brilliance of Scott Stratten, who has some hilariously epic rants about QR codes, and I believe these apply to brides considering using QR codes on their wedding invitations.

“Think before we do!” says Stratten. Wedding planning, and a lot about life, is the same as marketing: Research and know your audience! Execute accordingly. Of every person on my wedding invitation list, I’m comfortable in assuming that I’m the only person who has ever used a QR code. But at least 90 percent of my invitation list have downloaded smart phone apps and all of them know how to visit a website. I’m skipping the QR code in favor of url and app download instructions.