I just finished this book and I must say it is one of the most compelling, thought provoking, mind shifting books I've read in a long time. It's my first eBook read, via the Nook app on my iPad. Being a child of the migration myself, my parents individually leaving North Carolina and settling in Washington, D.C. I am fascinated by the stories of the brave men and women who travelled North and West for opportunities the South wouldn't allow them. Having made my own migration further south and then to New York, without any barriers or thought other than this is where I would like to work and live I am reexamining everything. You just have to read this.
Growing up, back to school shopping was simultaneously an excitement and a frustration. I began with a huge list of items I wanted, ended up fighting with my Mom in the store and left with maybe one or two items, much to my chagrin.
Once, I began to have my independence ( a driver's license, wheels, and some MONEY!) I began to collect clothing items galore! In college I prided my self with never repeating an outfit and after undergrad and grad school, out on my own in the fashion capitol of the world, I began to be known for choosing a shoe sale over groceries.
Inspired by Jean Chatzky's Today show experiment of eliminating her wardrobe to only 6 items for thirty days I decided I might be better off with less. Nina Garcia, fashion editor at Marie Claire and author is always mentioning how much she abhors the overloaded American girl's closet. So I began the purge. And I kept going and going and going.
Last Wednesday, I decided that I should make a list of how many items I minimally need per season. For instance, 7 summer dresses, 5 t-shirts, 2 slacks, etc. And then all the rest, no matter how cute or where I got it or how inexpensive or expensive it was, I sent off to the Goodwill. About 6 large bags worth. At first I was a little nervous, but I realized that I've been making much more conscious and better choices ever since. I FEEL more fashionable than ever and I get dressed so much faster. Even amidst a shopping fast (yes, this is third or fourth one so far, nothing except dire necessity until January) I'm feeling pretty good. I feel like I got a whole new fall wardrobe without buying not one new item. Mainly because I couldn't see everything that I had and now I'm challenging myself to make new combinations. On Sunday I wore, blazer which I hadn't worn since probably 2008, black cigarette slacks, and a pair of shoes that I've had since 2006 and got so many compliments. Probably because they've never seen me wear slacks. Why? Because I forgot that I even OWNED slacks!!!! Sure, the other day I wished I had a fuschia, strong shouldered cropped blazer but my tan one I got for $5 back in 2002 gives pretty much the same affect. In the words of Coco Chanel, "Fashion fades, style is eternal."
I've been having waayy too much fun being a newlywed to write, so I apologize for leaving y'all hanging. Our wedding day was so incredible, I felt God's bright beaming light and love wrapped around us so tightly. We truly had the time of our lives and it's been non-stop fun and adventures ever since. Our honeymoon in St. Lucia was so breathtakingly beautiful. We were able to stay in two resorts that week. At one point we were so high up the mountain that we could literally see over a rainbow. The food was delicious and the St. Lucians were so warm to us. We are so overwhelmed by everyone's generosity and are so inspired. Our NY Times article can be found at http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/13/fashion/weddings/13HOUSTON.html?_r=1&scp=1&sq=Alexandra%20Houston%20and%20Hashim%20Warren&st=nyt and you can view some of our photos at http://www.hashimandalexandra.com. We can't thank you enough!
I just devoured Lola Shoneyin's The Secret Lives of Baba Segi's Wives. I stumbled upon it at the New York Public Library and finished it in 3 days. I love her writing style. The story is saucy, sorrowful and yet uplifting. Loved it!
The wedding is just days away! By next Saturday evening, God willing, my life will forever change as I will become one with the love of my life. I am so excited! 6 months is such a short time to be engaged but for us felt like eternity. Hashim and I are besides our selves with excitement. We have so much to look forward to. This week I am going to hold onto God's loving peace. As organized as Hashim and I have tried to be, even now we are working on finalizing certain details! I just know that our big day is going be a bright beaming light of God's radiance and that we will have so much fun. I can't wait to see my family in friends here in our city of love. God willing our story will be in an upcoming issue of the New York Times (the reporter is 99% sure it will run!) for all the world to see, forever recorded in history. I probably won't sleep much this week, but I'm going to try to drink lots of water and eat an extra helping of fruits and veggies. Pray for us!
Today marks the one month mark. In 30 days Hashim will be my husband. Over the past few weeks I have endured all kinds of physical and emotional stresses on my body, heart and mind. I've been racking my brain trying to figure out why is the engagement process so hard. The easy part is being with Hashim.He is so loving, so protective of my spirit, so handsome, and so much fun to be with. Everything else feels like a whirlwind. Dealing with family, vendors, crazy "friends", trying to accommodate everyone else's needs, trying to prepare myself spiritually, trying not to hurt anyone's feelings, trying to get everything done and all the unexplainable physical changes that my body is going through, trying to work as much as possible before the teaching money runs out this summer, I feel like an emotional wreck. This is supposed to be the happiest time of my life right? Instead, next to grieving the passing of my father, this has been the most challenging time in my life. On Sunday, in church, I finally realized maybe it's not supposed to be easy. Miracles come out of hardship, out of longing, out of a desperate need for God's hand. Perhaps, my heavenly father is allowing me to go through these things in order to let his glory be evident. Or maybe he just wants me to hold onto him. In these last thirty days, I'm going to let go of what I think I'm SUPPOSED to be feeling and just take each day as it comes. I'm going to keep my eyes fixed on the miracle, Hashim and I coming together as one with God, that is about to take place. I'm going to hold on to God's promises and await his perfect timing. I'm going to let God steer the wheel, even if at times it feels like we are taking the scenic, bumpy road. I'm going to trust in him.
Last Saturday some of our wonderful friends and family gathered here in Harlem to shower us with gifts which will help us establish our new home. It was so lovely to see faces of loved ones. From the festive Hollywood style decor, to the wonderful food, (delicious Thai and Cake Man Raven Red Velvet!!!) we felt so overwhelmingly loved. My favorite part of evening was the games we played. Hashim and I were tested on our knowledge of each other and we did great! I am so thankful for everyone who was there and I cannot wait to see everyone at the wedding. My Matron of Honor and Hashim's Best Man gave their whole hearts in planning the event and it was a moment we will never forget.
We've finally booked all of our main vendors and we are working hard to keep calm and and carry on. Even though we try to deal with our stress on the conscious level, I know that I need to stay constantly in prayer to deal with the stress in the subconscious which my body lets me know by all kinds of things such as eye twitching, headaches, and all kinds of other things you don't want to know about.
Our marriage counseling has taught us so much about God's plan for our lives. We still have much to learn over the course of the next few weeks (YES! WEEKS!!!). It's time to begin the countdown...44 Days!
I can't wait to watch the Project Runway season finale this week. This is definitely the best season since Christian Siriano's group. I can't wait to see Emilio Sosa's and Seth Aaron's collections! It will be a fight to the finish!
Hashim and I have exactly two months before our big day now. All that's left to decide on is the flowers, cake... and a million other little (but really really important) tasks! But, finally, I feel like we're getting to the good part. The ups and downs of planning this ceremony and reception have brought Hashim and I so much closer. We laughed so hard together and even shed a few tears but as we knock down the ceremony details we can focus more on planning what our marriage will be like. It's my favorite part. We started marriage counseling with a loving married couple at our church and its been so much fun. So far our first two meetings have really opened our eyes to the possibilities of what an incredible opportunity we have. I believe in my heart that God made me specifically for Hashim and that together we will be a powerful force of love in this world. Breaking down our understanding of marriage based on society, movies and couples around us and really honing in on God's design of what marriage is really supposed be; fun, exciting, sacrificial, beautifully intimate, spiritually focused. It's so refreshing to learn what God's original plan for it is supposed to be. It's way better that what we could ever hope for watching "Why Did I Get Married, Too?".
The closer I draw near to God the more excited I feel about the wedding and our marriage. I am looking forward all the really fun activities that are coming up and most of all to every day and night beyond June 12 that I get to spend with the love of my life!
On my way home today I was doing a mental self check in and discovered that in someways I'm totally different than I was a few months, ago, or even last year. It's like the time in college when my Mom and I were at a new mall and she exclaimed, "Look they have your favorite store, Claire's." I had to reply, "Mom, I haven't gone in Claire's since I was like in 9th or 10th grade." Please keep in mind, I have no judgements to anyone's favorite things, this is just a personal self-check in. I'm sure that next year it will be totally different all over again. So here's my new lists.
THINGS I'M OVER: Eating at McDonald's Going to the movies when I'm bored Starbucks American Apparel My Space (save for my DJ Phoenix account) Violent loveless television shows
THINGS I'M ALMOST OVER: Dunkin' Donuts( bagels, sweet tea, munchkins) Cheese Eggs (unless they are cage free organic) Eating too much Needing to wear something different every day Processed sugar Tolerance of clutter IHOP Putting things off until later
THINGS I'M GETTING INTO: Soulful House Music Eating fruit and vegtables every single day Taking dance technique class regularly Cooking as many meals as possible Baked Sweet Potatoes Granola Greek Yogurt
THINGS I'M STILL INTO: Funky Natural Hair Styles Amazing heels Fashion and Home decor mags Singing, Dancing, Acting, Writing, DJing Riding my bike whenever possible Playing in the park Picnics Summertime! Netflix movies Watching tv online Collecting arty postcards Hanging out whenever possible
No matter how organized you try to be, or proactive or on top of things sometimes things fall apart. In our quest to do our homework and really try to know as much about each other (and still be righteous according to God's word) we are learning to surrender to the fact that there will be things we won't know and that no matter how well you plan sometimes things get messed up. This is a really difficult thing to realize being the type A, artist type perfectionist that I am slowly realizing that I am. Sometimes vendors let you down, disappear, close down, don't call you back, etc.
I have to admit after watching The Bachelor Wedding special with Jason and Molly last week, I was beginning to get wedding envy. With the network providing everything from celebrity hair and make-up stylists to Manolo Blahniks for EVERYONE(!!!) I began to sigh. If money were no object this would be so much easier. Right?
Nah. Having parameters is a great thing. How else will learn to grocery shop and pay all our bills every month? I think God is trying to teach us to have a unshakable faith. This is not my wedding, or Hashim's it's God's. However, he wants that day to look and the process that he will take us on to get there is perfectly directed by Him. Even if we don't understand in the moment.
Hashim pointed out that if we can survive this we can start our own business, renovate a home, raise children, pretty much anything we want to do in the future, this planning process lays a strong foundation. So, even though it can be frustrating to hear that butterflies on the cake are way too feminine for Hashim's taste (AH!) I'm glad that we're doing this together. There's no one else in the world that knows how to go to God with me when I am twisted up with anxiety, that makes me laugh this hard, that I have this much fun with: Hashim really is my best friend.
I am madly, deeply, dangerously in love with my fiancee'. I can not wait to marry this man. He is so incredible, I love him more and more daily, and I literally mean that. Yesterday, I was just meditating on how lucky I am that a man like Hashim considers ME to be his dreamgirl. But sometimes, I freak out. Being like a sponge in this engagement process, trying to soak all helpful tidbits about marriage is actually, I'm realizing, a terrible idea. At church I have lots and lots of young married friends. Everyone has their own story of union but I cannot say that everyone is living happily ever after. Women have projected all kinds of fears into me:
1. "Girl, you better get all the performing you want to do out now because Hashim is NOT gonna be okay with you going on tour." 2. "There will be no surprizes, everything little thing he does now is a hint at what is to come. It's YOUR responsibility to pay attention and watch the signs" 3. "After you get married, your freedom just goes out the window. Sometimes I wish I was still single!" 4. "On my wedding night, I knew I made a mistake" 5. "There is no happily ever after. There's just hard work. But I guess its worth it"
When I first heard comments like these I would just nod my head, like, "okay...mmmm...yeah."
Which led to my eventual melt down on Valentine's Day when Hashim JOKINGLY said," Well after we get married, you're going to have different dreams. You probably won't want to be touring anymore."
Which led me to respond like this: "You see, I knew it! (Sob, tears) You trying to make me sit at home and twidle my thumbs and let all my dreams fall away and they told me to watch the signs, and this is a sign and, and( a little bit of snot flowing now) and if you don't want me to perform then you should have said it before and, and and, (the ugly cry face in full force) and maybe this isn't going to work!"
Of course Hashim was totally taken off guard. Because he is a spiritual man he stepped away to pray and came back. He reassured me that he was completely joking and that all I have to worry about is him making a really bad joke from time to time. He reminded me that he has ALWAYS supported my dreams and that whatever I can handle, he can handle.
After I had some time to pray I realized that I have been internalizing a lot of fear. The mistakes your parents made, your friends parents, your friends, all that can compile into a heap of fear.
I mean no wonder the Cosby Show was so amazing. Claire and Cliff were fully self-actualized adults, happy, fulfilled, and affectionate. I know that's a t.v. show that I grew up on, but am I crazy to think that kind of life is possible for me?
Other than what the Bible says about marriage, the rest is up to us. Hashim and I are going off into that journey and we will define and redefine what marriage is all about for us. That's what I'm most excited about. Let the wild rumpus begin!!!!!
Per request from my loving friends I've decided to let all you in on the behind the scenes...I hope I don't say anything that I'll regret but here's to 2010 and taking risks!
God has blessed Hashim and I tremendously with our wedding process! Hashim has definitely set the tone with his perfect proposal. We have tried to be organized and worked really hard in the beginning so that we can chill later. The checklist on The Knot website is so intimidating...Before we even started planning according to our wedding date we were behind schedule on 100 items and we have like 298 items to go! It's January 29, and we have 133 days to go. So far we've got the venue booked, my dress and shoes, a make-up artist, awesome DJ for the reception and after 5 or 6 debates we've finally decided that Eggplant and Raspberry are the colors. We're going to St. Lucia for the honeymoon and all we need now is plane tickets and Hashim's passport. The website is up, the registries are almost done. Who knew how difficult it would be to pick out 300+gifts! Sometimes I feel like its so far away but I know it's just around the corner. Last week we started to talking about what the culture of our family would be like. Stuff like will we eat breakfast together every morning or wait up for each other to go to sleep at night. I am so excited by the fact that we get to set the standard and the values for our family. It makes me realize we have so much to learn!