Build Something Beautiful, Together!

This is a re-post of a blog I wrote two years ago when Mr. H and I first moved in together, we decided to build a beautiful bench to go on our new super cute porch at our super cute house back when we lived in Denver. As we built this bench I realized that the process of putting the bench together was a lot like the process of putting together a healthy relationship and so this blog post, and eventually this website harrishomemade.com  were born out of this idea, that we could physically and relationally build something beautiful, together.

So here it is….

So what does this bench have to do with my marriage?

Well we built it.. no kit, not precut pieces of wood, nope just a youtube video and a trip to home depot later and we were making a bench. This took both of our strengths and some I don’t think we knew we had in order to accomplish it.

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Here I am at home depot, bright eyed and bushy tailed ready to construct our very own bench, something that will hopefully last 30 years so we can pass it down to our children, as his parent just did with a picnic table Mr.’s Dad built 30 years ago.

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Did I mention we decided to build this bench on the day it snowed in May? No? Oh well here I am bundled up in our garage waiting for the snow to melt as we begin sawing.

But we get underway constructing this bench and just like I imagine we will in marriage, we started to hit some bumps, my bright eyed and bushy tailed turned into curse words and we were soon doubting if we could put this bench together at all. It started when we realized we didn’t charge the drill, and were left screwing most of the screws in by hand, do you know how many screws it takes to put a bench together? Way too many to screw them in by hand I tell you that.

I started to think that this was Ben’s fault and that it was his drill so he should have been responsible for the charge of the battery and as my wrist became more and more sore, I had two choices to continue blaming mr. and become resentful, or realize that this is something we are in together, realize we both will make mistakes and that as a team we will work through them, so on I went screwing in screw after screw by hand. ( And to be fair, he was also participating in this, it wasn’t like I was left with a screwdriver on an abandoned island or anything)

And I am sure he was thinking that I could be helping more, or stop nagging him about the directions, I am sure I screwed a screw in wrong, or measured the pieces of wood too small ( ok  I know I did that one once) And he could have taken those things and created a list, an arbitrary checklist of the ways I was failing him and allowed that running record to eat away at his faith in me. in us. But he didn’t every time no matter how frustrated he was he would look at me, smile, say “you are doing great babe”, and move on… EVERY time.

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And then we screwed the legs together wrong, leaving us with what would have been a seatless bench, not very effective right? So unscrew the pieces, and start again, this time following the directions. This is where we could dip deep down into those gender stereotypes pull out the one that says men don’t follow directions put a big ole check mark on it and slip it back into our pocket of low blows to use next time. But if we are going to create a marriage that is built to last, what we really need to be doing is digging into that pocket of stereotypes and low blows and throwing them in that brand new recycling bin we just got and let someone else compost those. Because holding on to these things just creates an environment where both Mr. and myself could be digging deeper and deeper at each other until one of us breaks.

Now 50 years into this bench building marriage we will have so many of these things we could be throwing at each other that there is no way to survive all of those bad experiences, but if instead we choose to recycle that crap, chalk it up to a mistake we both made and move on, then in 2,5 or 50 years we won’t be counting all the ways our spouse has messed up over the years right?

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It was starting to look like a marriage…. I mean bench, the pieces were all where they needed to be, it had legs it could stand on and a sturdy seat two people could sit on. But there was something missing, just like our marriage which has 79 days until it becomes official ,our bench was missing some crucial pieces to it’s structure. But this is where it really got tricky, the video said to put the back at a slight angle so that it would be more comfortable to sit on. The guy used a fancy tool to measure and then drill sideways through the posts in order to accomplish this with ease. However here we were with our dead drills, no fancy tool and only the few screws that we had purchased which were now to short for this job. How were we going to accomplish it?

And then Mr. had an idea, he said why don’t we use extra wood, create a back for the ends and use that to nail into, that would cut down on the amount of screws we need and allow us to create the comforting angle we had heard about in the video.

There you have it folks I am marrying a genius this is where I got to celebrate with him, think about how I never would have thought of that on my own and rejoice in his accomplishments, I could do this without fault because I had already thrown my earlier reservations in the recycling with our bench building mistakes.

So that is what we did, and it worked!

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And there it was our beautiful bench, it is still not perfect all the pieces don’t exactly line up, the wood is not sanded or painted to perfection, the back angle isn’t exactly even or at  the magic comfort angle that was prescribed, but let me tell you what…it is sturdy,

And in 30 years when our marriage has seen the test of time,  I hope we will look at this bench think of all the things we could have held onto over the years, all of the little mistakes that could have torn us apart but instead made us a better team and think it all started with this bench.

❤ Rae

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We’re like a really small gang.

 

Do you have any friends that are your family? They are the people you turn to when you need it, they are the people who would adopt your child if you ever died?

Well I grew up and those people those friends were truly my family, my mom had a group of best friends that when asked, or I had an assignment on family I always chose them. They were the people we spent Thanksgiving with, they were the people I could count on to be at my volleyball games, my recitals, ALL my graduations, Kindergarten, 5th, 8th, high school, undergrad and graduate school). They were always there and when I asked as a child if something happened to my mom where I would live, it was with them.

This is what I always dreamed of growing up, the family that I chose and the people who are in my life not because they have to be biologically but because they chose to be, And honestly it happened. It college I met a group of girls that are more family than anything, we have been friends for almost 10 years now and this year we are even spending Friendsgiving together on real Thanksgiving, we have been there for all of the weddings, and proposals we have celebrated moves, jobs and college graduations and probably soon someone in the group will welcome the gangs first baby. We all live spread among the West Coast.

But we have also been experiencing growing pains as we grow up, we all met when we were in college, none of us married, most of us single and we had all the time in the world to spend together. We lived life in community spending most of our nights together on the couch and most of our days drinking mimosas and eating pancakes (okay that was only Sunday’s but we loved those mimosas) And we only had to worry about passing our classes and having enough money to make rent and pay for the aforementioned mimosas.  We developed our own way of communicated a fast paced- snarky- love filled style of speaking that our husbands still have a hard time keeping up with.

So what does that look like for us now? How can we keep the same level of intimacy with each other as our significant others become our best friends and 1,000 miles separate us? Well you know I am learning that its more than possible it is beautiful. You have to intentionally make the time to talk to each other, you have to share the things that happened in your life when they no longer are just home when you get home to share them with. And then what happens when you are all together again? When you suddenly move 15 minutes away and you have to remember how to speak in that snarky language all over again. There are growing pains in that too, growing pains in living in proximity to the ones you love too, you have to learn how to share your life again and give up some of your independence to those around you all over again…. Now next we will see what happens when the next life stage changes for us, we have grown together from the singleness of college to being married or engaged, and we will learn how to grow together through babies, and all the things that come with that. Because we are our small gang.

 

Now over the last year or so there have been a lot of changes to the make-up of this family, see one of the best things about a friends family is that they choose to be in your life, but one of the problems with a friends family is just that, they choose to be in your life. So they can also choose not to be in your life. ( not that blood family can’t also make that choice, exhibit A- 85% of my blood relatives, including my Dad) but with friends family it can be a simple quick decision there isn’t the rest of the family bugging them to join the family holiday parties, one day they are just gone. And with my moms Friend Family that is exactly what they all decided this last year. The woman I called my second mom, and the man who walked me down the aisle are no longer a part of my life for the most part because they are no longer a part of my moms life. And like honestly it feels a little bit like my parents got a divorce.

My mom and Sue were like a really small gang, they had been friends for 30 years they had helped each others kids grow and my mom had helped Sue bury her son. They had been together when Sue’s husband went off to war, twice. And celebrated each time he came home. We celebrated all of my thanksgivings together and most of the Christmas’s but now that really small gang has broken up.

 

So is it possible to have lifetime friends? Can you really achieve the goal of having a family that you choose and not one by blood? I sure hope so we will see, I still have hope that my “divorced parents” will speak again someday. I have hope that you can navigate all the changes of life with the same close group of friends, I have hope that all of the sitcoms ever (How I met your Mother, Friends, One Tree Hill, etc) were not lying to me and I can have my friend family! Because right now there isn’t any other way I would want it to be.

 

 

Take me back to WildWood!

 

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I can remember the night I met my now husband. I can remember thinking to myself that a person this good, this moral would never love me because of that one thing in my past. That one thing I tell no one, that my closest friends know and never bring up. The one thing I am more confused about than any other decision I have ever made in my past. The one thing that makes me feel like I am not good enough to have this man love me. As a result of this fear, I reacted in the opposite way that I normally do with this piece of information. Normally, I hide it until someone sees me, loves me enough to love me in spite of that one thing I did when I was 16. This thing that I completely believe is everyone woman’s choice to make, but why when I acknowledge that I used my right to choose does it make my skin crawl. However on that night I didn’t bury that information, when my wonderful now-husband asked me about the significance of my tattoo on my back instead of using any one of the reasons I normally share with people, I told him the truth, I told him about a choice that I made when I was 16 and the ways that it still drives my life today. And guess what. .. he still loved me. He still asked me if I was upset he wasn’t trying to make out with me that night, and still convinces me every day that I am his “have-to-have” in life, that I am his most beautiful woman in the world. And I like to think it is not in spite of my choice to tell him about my past, but maybe just a little bit because of my choice to tell him. ( And look at me even now, not wanting to write the word out)

A wonderful woman named Grace spoke to a group of 16-18-year-old girls this week, she will continue to speak to them every week for the next 10 weeks she will influence the way that they share their lives with people, and she impacted the way I hope to share my life. She spoke about vulnerability but beyond that, she spoke of transparency. Transparency in our lives in our stories is typically reserved for the few closest to us, those we believe, as I did, will love us in spite of the choices that we made and not turn our back on us or run and tell their neighbor the things we choose to share. They will see themselves a little bit in our stories and find our humanity refreshing. But vulnerability is what we chose to share with people who have not earned transparency yet, with the people who ask to hear our testimony, who ask us about our day. We pick and choose little-edited pieces of our life that we feel comfortable sharing, things that may make us look like we have been through something tragic but still paint us in a good light. We don’t talk about all the shitty things WE have done when we are just being vulnerable.

But what could we do, if we were transparent with more people if we shared the struggles the hardest decisions we have made and then let people see the ways we were formed and shaped by those choices. Through the times that we hide away from others, don’t you think we all probably have a little more in common that we think? But we just spend our lives only showing the “instagrammable” moments with each other. We paint our lives to appear beautiful all the time. But I think we could all become a lot closer if we showed the browns and the grays of our lives instead of only the golden, the bright and shiny hues.

First off, I have never been to WildWood, not as a camper, not as a counselor, not as a staff member.  Wildwood is a place where campers spend a week of their lives trying to get closer to God and get closer to each other. It is a place removed from cell phones, social media and a place where you get to work hard and take a week to breathe deeply again. I spent a few nights at Wildwood this summer as a guest and in the moments I start to hide away the moments I forget what it is like to live transparently, I hope someone will Take me Back to Wildwood.

-Rae

P.S. I wrote most of this post back in June, and am just getting around to posting it.

(Wildwood, camp- Hume CA)

Why do we idealize the “dramatic” relationships?

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I am currently rewatching two of my favorite shows; Friends and One Tree Hill. I have seen them both all the way through at least once and love them both, but this time while watching them I have noticed a similarity I did not see before. . . both of the ‘Great’ love stories are SO dramatic.

Take Ross and Rachel to start with, the first 4 seasons or so it is all build up will they be together or won’t they. There was the meeting Ross at the plane, and the “I’m over you” phone call

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Then there is the short period of time where they were SO happy and you just cheered to yourself every episode because all was finally right in the Friends world.

And of course then comes the “WE WERE ON A BREAK!” saga, that would carry us through for many more episodes . . . seasons even!

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Fast forward a few years, they have a daughter and they STILL don’t get together. It takes them so many years to finally get it together that by season 10 they are still figuring it out.

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Then there is Lucas and Peyton from One Tree HIll. They go through a similar on and off again saga for the first 7 1/2 seasons of One Tree Hill. So much that when they finally do get married (at least we get to see that wedding) Lucas has been engaged and said “I Do” to someone else, all while writing a love story to Peyton. They have not been together more than they have been together throughout the seasons. And during their wedding, Haley even starts out with this

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Both of these relationships are so full of drama that not even the characters can figure out if they are going to be together until it is almost too late. And yet we LOVE them we claim them as #couplegoals we all go around trying to find the Ross to our Rachel.

Why is that?

Why do we crave drama, does that equal passion in our mind? The fact that they can never make up their minds or stay together for more than a season really makes us think they are made to be together? How in the world do we think they are going to have a healthy marriage when they have been running at the first sign of trouble for the last 10 years?

I believe this just sets us up for failure. We are so busy waiting for that “passion” that when we find our Monica and Chandler, or our Nathan and Haley we think it is boring and move on looking to fill that dramatic void TV has set us up to believe should be the leading characters in our lives.

Well, today is my 2nd wedding anniversary, and let me tell you that there was none of the Ross and Rachel drama involved in our courtship. Once we decided we wanted to be together, we were together. And then we worked our asses off to make sure that we stayed together, there were no breaks, no scandals no drama. Not to say we didn’t have our fair share of fights because let’s just get real EVERYONE FIGHTS. But fighting doesn’t equal passion and drama doesn’t equal love and we worked to stay together and happy through the fights and walked ourselves right through dating, engagement, and marriage just fine.

I took one of those stupid online quizzes the other day “What TV couple are you and your SO?” and guess what it came back as ROSS AND RACHEL! I sat there all. . . okay, I will give you the “He’s her lobster” version of Ross and Rachel, but don’t give me any of that “WE WERE ON A BREAK! ” Ross and Rachel. I want to be Nathan and Haley. I want to fall in love at 16 get married and work like HELL to get through the hard times. To grow together

I want to be  Monica and Chandler, or Nathan and Haley. I want to fall in love at 16 get married and work like HELL to get through the hard times. To grow together, to grow up together. To fight, hate each other at times but always fight for the love you want.

To make a choice and stick with it! Because in the end that is what love is, it is a choice every day to fight to push the other people to be their best self to be your best self for them.  To live your best life together!

 To live your best life together!

So why doesn’t TV show us those leading couples, why is there always the DRAMA, because then we are left looking for what we think passion is. But when it comes down to time to fight for what we want., to make a choice and stick with it. When we are forced to examine life together, we turn to, let’s take a break. Instead of let’s work this out. We think that if it is meant to be after 10 season and endless other relationships and marriages (If you are Ross) you will find your way back to each other. But that is not what love is, love isn’t finding your way back together, love is choosing to stay together. To fight for each other every day!

“I don’t believe in soulmates, and I don’t think that you & I were destined to end up together. What I do believe is that we fell in love & that we work hard for our relationship.”- Monica Geller

So forget Ross and Rachel and Lucas and Peyton. I want to make my choice, the same choice every day.

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Here is a picture of my husband and I celebrating our 2nd anniversary in San Fransisco this weekend. Yep, I got him these cheesy socks because we do traditional anniversary gifts and year two is cotton.

-Rae

 

The Elimination of FOMO!

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The Fear of Missing Out, something I think this generation is cursed with. We are constantly assaulted with all of the wonderful things that everyone  around us is doing. At any given minute any of our friends could be on a cruise, drinking margarita’s in the sun. But the worse cases of FOMO for me happen with things that are right down the road, they are things you easily could have attended if you had only known about it before it popped up on your instagram feed. This was the source of the most anxiety for me living in a city, what could I be doing instead of sitting on my couch curled up with my husband. Which is something I greatly enjoy doing, but someone just posted about a flea market in Cap Hill, and that new movie I wanted to see (or like semi wanted to see, or everyone says I should see) just came out. Or I know that the jazz group is putting on swing dancing lessons tonight, and I have always wanted to learn to swing dance. Or something as simple as I haven’t posted a good beer drinking picture on the instagram lately I should probably go check out a new brewery.

I always wanted to keep up with the pace of everyone around me, I wanted to be doing something just as cool, just to prove that I could. I didn’t even notice this was the source of my anxiety until it was eliminated from my life. Like most of the people in my generation the constant assault of instagram, Facebook, snapchat posts had simply become my normal.

And since I didn’t have very many friends I was constantly forcing my husband to do all of these things with me and even though I didn’t think this was causing me anxiety but here Except for the fact that the first weekend my friends in the PNW all did something together without me, I panicked to the point of literally making Mr. get in the car with me and just drive. . literally just drive so I wouldn’t be at the house. But I wasn’t stressed at all right? Here, I am not even a month later just realizing that that is exactly what it was doing, I wasn’t happy or excited for my friends, I would hit like on all of their posts and comment how cute they looked doing XYZ, but secretly I was wishing they would have invited me, or that I would have been somewhere even cooler.

Last month when we moved to the mountains I feared the fear of missing out for the first time cognitively  I worried about the concerts I would miss being in the middle of nowhere the nights of eating out at my favorite restaurants I wouldn’t get to do anymore. But here I am feeling the most content in my adult life

Here in our mountain town there are now raging parties happening on Friday night, there are no spur of the moment pop ups happening  in downtown. You don’t have to worry about that new movie because no one else has seen it either. But you can count on being invited to the all town broom hockey on Monday night, and you can probably count on watching the Bachelor with the ladies. You may not know everyone in the town very well but you can ensure that they all have a fairly similar life that you do.  And that when there is something going on you will know. I cannot be attached to my phone at all times, because it only works in the wifi, at my house! so I don’t need to look at what everyone else is posting during my lunch break or worry about making sure I post something every time I do something cool. I can focus on God, and life and the people around me. I can engage in conversations without any worry of phone interruptions I can meet new people because I am not too concerned with what the old people are doing. I can actually connect to the world around me.

It has been the most scary and freeing part of living here so far, the ability to immerse myself in the beauty around me the people, the mountains, the living where I can count the stars. I can enjoy life without any FOMO, and that has made all the difference.

-Rae

The Evolution of the Breakdown

I had a breakdown, a huge crying, incomprehensible speech, blubbering breakdown, and the best part was I had no idea it was coming.

I am not a huge cryer, I have noticed that recently it has become more apparent in my life, when I am mad or upset a few tears will slip from one eye or another but never a huge issue. Even when Ben and I fight it is never a huge deal, I will let a few tears fall quietly and we both continue fighting and no one really has to address these tiny tears.

Well the breakdown started Saturday night, I had class all day on Saturday and then Ben and I went out to a great dinner where we tasted three different bourbons, we had a drink with egg whites in it, and tasted oysters (for the first time for me). It was a wonderful celebration of just being alive and being in love. We got home and began stuffing our save the dates, The first big act to let other people know, Hey we are getting married and we would love to have you there. It should have been a great night, but we both started snapping at each other, and it ended with me hiding behind the still up and lit christmas tree letting a few tears fall as I finished writing the return addresses on the last of the save the dates.

As we headed to bed you could feel the tension between us, but I don’t think either one of us really had any idea why we were fighting. We fought about nothing for like 20 minutes when I got up to leave, he tried one last time to prod at my hard shell, “Kelsi what is wrong.”

And I lost it, sobs erupted and I sat on the edge of my future bed crying harder than I can ever remember crying. I simply kept repeating, “I don’t know and I am sorry” over and over. Ben got out of bed, came and sat awkwardly on the edge of the bed with me and wrapped us both in a blanket. As I sobbed and mumbled speech even I couldn’t understand, he repeated ” It’s going to be ok.” As many times as I could say “I’m sorry.” He sat through my blubber and held me tighter the harder I sobbed. All the while reminding me that we would work through it together, that I was never alone in this. And after what seemed like an eternity of tears, when I wasn’t sure I would ever be able to cry again, we climbed back into bed and he told me that he would choose me everyday no matter what.

I still couldn’t tell you what the root cause of this breakdown was, or really how it cleansed my soul. But I can tell you that just letting someone know that I need help, that maybe Grad school, and planning and wedding, and working full time isn’t as easy as I continue to tell myself that it is was such a freeing experience. And I can tell you that I made the best decision of my life, by marrying this man.

I hate to blame my fatherless past for many things in my life, I don’t want to fall into that stereotype of women. But sometimes I have to own up and admit that it did have an impact on my way of viewing the world and this is one of those times. I don’t think I have ever cried in front of a man in that way. I don’t think I have ever felt that they would hold me in that way and still view me as the women they loved and wanted in their lives. I have always held the assumption that if the man that was supposed to love me unconditionally couldn’t live up to that, no one ever would. Now that is not to say that my mom wasn’t the best mother and father she could be, I never wanted for anything that I needed and she made sure I had a life where I could honestly say that my father wasn’t missed too much. But she was only one person and it is unrealistic to expect her to be two. However I think I can officially say that not everything you grow up believing about men, women or the world will hold true. I am so happy that this particular thing wasn’t true.

Even though I still have all of those things to balance, and I still strive to be perfect, to manage all of these things, stress- free. Maybe that is not realistic and being able to hold onto the fact that when I can’t do it anymore, when my perfection falters and my insecurities show,I won’t be alone is the more reassuring thing I have in my life.

In 7 months I will marry this man and hopefully some day he will ensure that our daughter never has these same insecurities because she will grow up knowing that no matter what two people will love her unconditionally.

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One 23 year olds evolving relationship with T. Swift.

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Oh T. Swift what would I do without you, how would I know what it feels like to be 22 or how to shake it off who would have taught me that high school love sucks and sometimes the only way to get over it is by crying on the guitar I only pretend to own?

Now that being said T. Swift and I have been through a lot over the years. I can remember being 16 living in a small town, still loving country music ( back when T. Swift still claimed the country title) listening to her debut self titled album just hoping someone would love me enough to write “Our song” for me and then not even a week later feeling like ” Should’ve said no, and picture to burn” were the only songs that understand the tragedy of young love. Sitting in my car listening to teardrops on my guitar crying over one boy or another that I believed was the end all and be all of love. Thinking that if I just had a real guitar to cry on it would be even more poetic. Oh the tragedy of living a non-musical life.

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Then her second album Fearless came out, and our relationship hit a rough patch. . . I just didn’t feel like she was getting me at all anymore. She was still singing about being 15 and falling in love and here I was a senior in high school now, thinking about leaving home, going to college and the last thing I wanted to be was in love.  I thought, T. Swift you gotta grow up, she was older than me so I thought we should have been thinking about our futures and not our pasts. Don’t get me wrong there were some songs that still stole my heart, to this day when anyone has wronged me I bust out some sad singing of “Your not sorry” and let them know that maybe I am not a princess and they are not a prince on a white horse, with “White Horse” But over all we were on a low, maybe T. Swift and I needed to take a break . . .

And that is just what we did. . we took so much of a break I totally forgot that she came out with another album in 2010 . . I looked it up and I guess she came out with Speak Now. . . Oh yes. This is the album that Mean was on. If I never had to hear that whiny, self pitying song again I would be happy. One shining star on this album was Mine, a sweet testament to maybe young 20 something love. But overall I could have forgot about about this album all together. .

So that is all that needs to be said on that.

So when 2012 rolled around I was a junior in college, had been living on my own for 3 years. I was 21 about to turn 22 and was thoroughly in the Eff boys stage of my life. That is when Red  came out, I originally thought, Taylor has already let me down once  I don’t have high hopes for this one. But The first time I heard, ” I knew you were trouble” I was sold.
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There she was my high school confidant had returned. She welcomed me back with a bang, with I knew you were Trouble, Stay Stay Stay, Higher Ground and Red.  But the song that got me, that made me fall back in love the song to write home to that made me say, thats it I have found the one mom . .. 22 . That song, that conveniently came out around my 22nd birthday just understood all of the 22 year olds in my life. It wasn’t trying to make us any more “thug than we were” it wasn’t trying to make us fall in love and get married, it was just letting us, ” Dress up like hipsters, and make fun of our ex’s” because really that is all we ever wanted to do anyway.

Now the real test. . could Taylor maintain this love affair with the young 20 somethings through another album. . So when 1989 came out and the Country Music population officially bid Taylor goodbye. We welcomed her into our hipster, pop alternative lifestyle with open arms. I resisted buying 1989 for about 2 weeks and it only took one trip to the gym a good set of headphones and a 30 minute run for me to know that this was going to be my 2015 love of my life!

There is a perfect balance of ” I don’t give a fuck” like Shake it Off, because really we all know that nobody likes you at 23. And some I can to what I want with Blank Space. As well as real world slow it down love with Get the girl, This love, and Wildest Dreams.

For Taylors generation of 22 year olds that she helped push through the first year of the “boring birthdays” she once again is making us feel like if anyone understands us it is T. Swift.

Cause we’re young and we’re reckless
We’ll take this way too far
It’ll leave you breathless
Or with a nasty scar
Got a long list of ex-lovers
They’ll tell you I’m insane
But I got a blank space baby
And I’ll write your name. . .

Because we don’t need anyone to validate us. . we are strong, we can take care of ourselves . . and if you want some of us ” we’ve got a blank space baby, we can write your name”

❤ Kelsi Rae