Pre-note: It’s a long one, friend, but stay with me! I think there’s something in this you need to read….
This time of year if undoubtably my favourite and my guess is it may just be yours too!
All the twinkling lights, the crooners carols and hot cocoa by the fire with those I love. The time to be still, linger a little longer and reflect on the gifts of the past year.
For years past, I have made the tradition of working through Lara Casey’s Powersheets and setting intentional goals for the coming year. If there’s anything I’ve learnt in the process, it’s that goal setting doesn’t just need to be about achievement and advancement in business. It can be a gateway to making the things that will matter when you’re 80 happen, starting now.
One of my greatest fears is to get to the end of my life and realize I spent it chasing the wrong things!
The power sheets help me reflect on the things that I was blessed with that year, what did and didn’t work and create a plan of action for moving forward in the new year with focus and intentionally. I set not only business goals, but personal goals that involve my faith, my marriage, my family, my friendships, my mothering and even my “me” time.
But I truly believe we cannot live life well or plan for the future with a right heart, without first giving thanks for where we’re at.
If we don’t stop to appreciate where we’ve been, we may just arrive to where we’re going and realize we’ve missed it!
Did you hear me, friend?
You may just be where you’re supposed to be right now.
You may just have everything your hearts desired this vary moment.
Through practice and the discipline of keeping a gratitude journal- a journal of ordinary everyday thanks- I’ve learnt that Gratitude turns what we have into enough.
So, as we draw near to the close of the year and before I put pen to paper, I wanted to share with you just a glimpse into my gratitude journal….
The things I’m most grateful for in 2015
Letting go of striving
… and people pleasing and comparison.
If I’m honest, one of my biggest concerns in having a child was how I was going to keep up with my business. I feared falling off peoples radars, watching as others passed me in success and achievement and ultimately, loosing business and never being able to regain it. And then I had my daughter.
Everything in my world changed and my heart shifted. Suddenly, my priorities aligned with what matters most in this season of life (read that again: “this season of life.” Different chapters of our lives require different focus. Nothing is permanent.) and the things I feared didn’t matter anymore.
I chose (and continue) to trust that God is in control. If I seek him and his will, my life (and work) will be exactly as they should be.
With my eyes focused on my life and what I have right now in front of me, rather than on others and what they’re doing, my heart has been overwhelmed with contentment, joy and gratitude. The striving suddenly ceased and I have learnt to just be and thrive in the moment.
Practical Tip: Unfollow on Instagram, Hide on Facebook and Unsubscribe from newsletters that make you feel like you’re not enough. The ones you’re tricking yourself into thinking are “research,” “inspiration” or “keeping up with competition.”
Even better, stop scrolling all together, simply using social media to post and respond to notifications directed at you specifically.
Living in the moment
For the first three weeks of motherhood, I felt like a gerbil on a wheel. Every moment of every day was a task list item that felt defeating and never ending. Finally, in the midst of a puddle of tears with my body heaped over the kitchen sink, my mom gave me advice that would change my entire year (and ultimately my life going forward).
While the advice was specific to motherhood, what it taught me was to block out the noise of others’ opinions, expectations and experiences; to be still long enough to ask myself what I want, what I would do and to experience what was going on around me with open eyes.
I began to love “the moment” and became addicted to “the now.” I began to see, so clearly, the fleeting nature of life and how we’ll never get this moment back. We only get one chance to live it: now.
From humble firsts, like eden discovering her toes, to the intricacies of people, like the way a smile brightens peoples eyes, I saw it all. And I can truly say my heart has been flood with gratitude.
By living in the moment, my life (while looking very foreign, still and slow compared to any other year) has felt abundantly beautiful… almost sacred.
Practical Tip: If you’ve never taken a break from social media, try fasting it for a time. Perhaps a week or better yet, one month; even business related activity. Nothing will fall to pieces and the world will be waiting there when you return.
If you’ve done this before, try implementing social media free weekends, so during your downtime you can truly savour your life and those you love.
A love like no other
As most of you know, 2015 was dominated by the arrival of our daughter in early February. After a short 6 week hiatus, I returned to work to make magic for a few special clients. At the close of my wedding season, I returned to maternity leave and will remain on leave until late 2016.
For most of my life, my greatest love (aside from my husband and Jesus) has been my passions; my business being one of them. But when Eden-Elle arrived on the scene, a part of my heart I never knew existed burst open. And I have discovereed “the greatest legacy we leave may not be something we do but someone we raise.” – Lara Casey
I have discovered that loving others well – be it my daughter, my husband, my family, my friends or even perfect strangers- is the greatest gift we can give. And loving well doesn’t always mean our blog is up to date, our inbox is zero, our social platforms are maintained and our business is advancing. I’ve discovered an even greater joy than succeeding in my work and gaining a larger social platform – and that is loving and connecting deeply with those right in front of me.
Practical Tip: Make it a goal to bless someone in your life every single day. It could be a small gesture, like a text of encouragement or stopping to chat with your elderly neighbour. Or a grander one, like choose not to attend an event you really want to in favour of spending time with family or a friend.
Many times, loving well requires sacrifice, like a messy house or less to do’s accomplished. But saying NO to one thing, means saying YES to the things that matter most.
A Year of Healing
For years, I carried around hurt that I refused to touch, let alone work through. I preferred to pretend like everything was fine and mask the pain with addictions like anxiety, achievement, disordered eating and people pleasing.
You have no idea what if feels like to type those words but if you too are honest with yourself, wouldn’t if feel amazing to say the same?
Practical Tip: Get quiet, grab a piece of paper and start writing out all the things that have hurt you most in life. Little and big. Be real honest! It only takes 10 seconds of insane courage. Look over that list and ask yourself if any of those things are holding you back in life. Are they affecting you in any way? Your work, your relationships, how you look/think/speak about yourself?
….and in conjunction with this one: Family and Friends.
I cannot even begin to express my gratitude for the help I have received this year. From the messy beginnings of motherhood, to the challenges of new seasons, I have had no choice but to accept (reluctantly many times) help from those around me; sometimes from perfect strangers!
It’s been a humbling year on countless levels, but what I have learnt is that accepting help not only blesses the receiver, but the giver. By denying someone the opportunity to help, you steal from them an opportunity to experience joy and purpose.
Seriously. Ask someone today how helping someone leaves them feeling. My guess is pretty good. Perhaps that why Christmas is many times referred to as the most wonderful time of year?! It’s the season of giving.
I now know that asking for help when I need it and accepting it graciously when it’s offered is a gift that just keeps giving.
Practical Tip: The next time someone offers to help, say yes! No matter what it is. Then try it again. On the flip side, seek out an opportunity today to help someone else and see how it makes you feel.
A solid Marriage
This isn’t an easy one to type but it’s with abundant gratitude that I do. This year has been one of the most challenging years in our marriage to date. There’s been nothing like it before and on many days, we’ve had to fight to stay connected, to love each other well and to keep our marriage strong.
Having a child will turn not only your life but your marriage upside down. And nothing anyone said could have prepared us for this chapter. So, I won’t waste your time giving advice. What I will say instead is this:
Before we got married, even after, Dave and I put in the hard work of “working” on us. We took the time to build a solid foundation so that when things got rocky, we leaned in rather than running away.
To often, we see marriage as a contract- a negotiation that meets our needs- rather than a covenant- a lifelong promise to be what the other needs. Thinking of it as a contract rather than a covenant leaves both parties feeling less than secure, loved conditionally rather than unconditionally and keeps two from true intimacy. Things like secrecy, personal ambition and expectations get in the way of refining us into what the other individuals needs to flourish. Because whether we like it or not, marriage is not meant to make us happy, but holy.
It’s this mindset and commitment that has carried Dave and I through this hard season. Now on the upside of the valley, I can say we’re coming out of it more connected, more appreciative of each other and dare I say it, more in love.
Practical Tip: Take the time to read some of these articles and consider investing in your marriage, starting today.
So that’s it my friend. There are countless more where those came from but they are certainly amongst the most important. I hope you take time before the new year to reflect on the blessings of 2015 in your own life.
My first wedding back from semi-maternity leave, Keith and Charmaine’s ethereal ballroom wedding made for the sweetest return.
Held at the Sutton Place Hotel, adorned with their infamous crystal chandeliers, luscious blooms and pampered by impeccable staff, everything about their day was elegant and sophisticated.
But even more than the physical beauty, their day was rooted deep in vibrant faith and a child-like joy that surpassed anything I’ve ever experienced with clients- giddy delight in purest form.
“We owe Kailey-Michelle so much. Everything turned out stress free and WAY beyond our expectations. She did everything with such grace and enthusiasm and boy does this lady know her stuff!
All of the vendors she recommended were 5 stars as well! She is so kind and easy to work with.
Aside from having a beautiful wedding day that went off without a hitch, the best part was my fiancee and I being able to enjoy each other the year prior to the wedding without having to spend an excessive amount of time planning.
She will take all the guess work out of your planning, give you excellent and honest advice some of which you have never thought of, and have your wedding day under complete control so that you can enjoy it with complete assurance that all is being taken care of.
We give her our highest recommendations! Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for turning what was a very intimidating prospect of planning a wedding into a most wonderful and enjoyable experience. We couldn’t ask for anything more!” – Keith and Charmaine Sun
Something I get asked often is whether or not a couple needs a wedding planner or wedding coordinator present at their wedding rehearsal.
The truth is, it’s entirely up to you!
Take time to consider your bridal party and family’s personalities (are they rambunctious, lack focus, disorganized, forgetful) and perhaps discuss with your officiant/commissioner/pastor/justice of the peace how they like to instruct the wedding rehearsal.
Many times, these individuals have their own way of instructing a wedding rehearsal and (not always, but) more often then not, they are not familiar with having a wedding planner present at the rehearsal.
Like your officiant/commissioner/pastor/justice of the peace, every wedding planner/ wedding coordinator will have their own spin on orchestrating a wedding rehearsal, but traditionally, you can expect them to lead you through the following:
They will introduce themselves, their role on the wedding day and explain all that will be reviewed in the wedding rehearsal; possibly how long they expect it to take.
They will begin with placing all parties in their appropriate spots at the altar or front; where you are to stand throughout the ceremony.
They will then lead you to the place where you will be entering for the processional (walk down the aisle), line you up in the appropriate order and have you practice walking in to your altar spots / placement at the front. They will discuss time, give you pointers for walking in (such as how to hold your hands or bouquet) and cue you at the right time so theres no need for you to stress or count music.
They will then turn it over to the officiant/commissioner/pastor/justice of the peace to run through the ceremony program
Once you come to the end of the ceremony program, they will explain how and when to exit for the recessional
6. Special Instructions
At some point, they will also take the time to discuss any special instructions, plans or announcements that need to be made or happen throughout the ceremony
This will likely be REPEATED 1-2 times as needed.
If you do plan to have a wedding planner or wedding coordinator present, I would encourage you to inform your officiant/commissioner/pastor/justice of the peace and if they haven’t worked with one prior, share the above with them. Ensure them that their role is not to take over the rehearsal, or boss them or anyone around, but to take the logistics off their hands so that they can focus on the most important part- the ceremony program.
When the wedding planner or wedding coordinator works effectively together with the officiant/commissioner/pastor/justice of the peace, the rehearsal will be seamless, thorough and quick; Everyone involved will know their role and places and no one will be left wondering what will happen on the day!
Working with clients is an extremely intimate thing for me as a wedding planner. I’d love to tell you that I get excited with every inquiry that hits my inbox, but the truth is I don’t. Theres a certain element of whimsy, romance and a focus on relationships and love, that comes through when I know I’ve found my [client] match…
I’m intentional in keeping my business boutique – small is the new big – so that I can fully invest myself, both my talents and my heart, into each client. To me it’s more than a paycheque or even an excuse to do what I love.
I see hearts and not bookings. Marriage and not parties. Friends and not profits.
To me, Wedding Planning is an opportunity to bless someone, make a difference in one of the most significant chapters of a family’s life and shoulder the stress that many times steals the focus from the things that matter most – relationships and love.
We became so much more than their wedding planners, but their friends and by wedding day, family.
Reminiscent of your favourite family dinner but better, these beautiful hearts celebrated and feasted with 5 of their dearests, in the most elegant of settings. One page out of their forever story, their wedding day overflowed with laughter, love and the things that matter most.
In the morning, Sheryl’s dad shared photos from his wedding day to her mom, who tragically passed away a few years back. But she is never forgotten and always remembered; there in spirit and in the hearts of those who loved her dearly.
We transformed one ordinary hall into a cozy haven of their favourite things – the ocean, rustic barn wood, antiques, games night, candlelight and their adorable labradoodle Eddy – inviting guests into a “home away from home.” The result was pure magic, as genuine as the love and friendship shared between them.
“She just got it! She made our experience fun, magical and memorable.”
We spent a lot of time looking for the perfect “small vintage” intimate wedding venue. While browsing through different sites, I came across Kailey-Michelle’s work and thought “that looks like my dream wedding”, so her style definitely drew us to her initially.
But we knew she was perfect when we met her – she was so friendly and enthusiastic, and when we tried to describe the feel we wanted for our wedding – she instantly just got it.
We also loved that she never wavered in reminding you that your wedding is about you, but that the real goal is a loving-lasting marriage- and that stays at the heart of her work.
Kailey-Michelle, thank you so much for making our dream wedding come to life! We are so appreciative of your hard work in planning everything and putting together the pieces; also for your reminders that what matters most is a marriage more beautiful than our wedding day. We believe you meet people for a reason. You are truly a beautiful and inspiring person and we are so thankful our paths crossed!
Thank you for caring so much about us and about making our day special. It is you who made our wedding experience fun, magical and memorable! For that we will be forever grateful.
-Sheryl McCabe | Bride [January 17, 2015]
This wedding was a beautiful display of collaboration and passion. I’m grateful to the many hearts who helped transform this ordinary day into the tale of two hearts:
Wedding Planner and Designer | Kailey Michelle Events