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Today’s “Be A Better (Friend/Fellow Shopper) Challenge” #4: Tuck a tag!

by SweetMidlife

It’s simple: You see someone – maybe a co-worker, or your boss even, or maybe the lady ahead of you in the check-out line. And you see something that he or she can’t – that tag sticking up in the back of his/her shirt, or the southward zipper, or the piece of toilet paper trailing a shoe, or a giant piece of broccoli stuck in the teeth region.

Whatever it is, it wouldn’t still be there sticking to that poor person if they could see it. But you can. So do something about it. If you feel comfortable, you can whisper “Hey, your tag is sticking out” or even tuck it in if you can do that without looking like a stalker. Or point to their shoe. Or do that pointing-to-your-teeth thing people do. I’m an expert because all of those things have been done for me – a stranger decided not to let another stranger (me) walk around looking foolish. They didn’t have to. Neither do you.

So, help someone not look foolish. Make the planet prettier and less…foolier. Love, us.


Be a Better (Loved One) Challenge #3: Hug Somebody

by SweetMidlife

It’s September 11, a day of reflection, mourning, and remembrance for many people.  It’s a day that makes many think about not just what we’ve lost, but also how blessed we are to have what we have, and the biggest blessing is the other people in our lives. So, today, go up to the people you love, and just wrap your arms around them. Unannounced, no fanfare.  Just walk up, open arms, enfold loved one.  Loving physical touch is so huge, and sometimes says things that words can’t.  See, simple can be beautiful! So go, on. Hug away.


Happy 4th of July from the Brides at 35!!

by SweetMidlife

by Lynne Streeter Childress

So I’m eating a plate of nachos, working on a blog post, and watching “In Her Shoes”, with Toni Colette and Cameron Diaz, and I just passed the part where Toni’s suffering from wedding planning stress, and her fiance’ says, “Engagement is supposed to be a happy time”, and that made me stop what I was working on and write this.  That sentiment is part of what inspired my sister Leslie and me to start “Bride at 35” in the first place. It was about being at a place in our lives where we felt blessed to have both finally found the husbands we were meant to have, and that we didn’t settle  just because we were getting towards the end of our baby-making years.  And we knew that there were MANY more of us out there, in their mid-30s’s and beyond, who were on all ends of the spectrum. And we wanted to have a voice. Maybe you are still looking for THE one, or maybe you’ve found them and you are planning your big day, or maybe you’ve had the big day and you are working on what comes next. Or maybe you’re not even looking, and you are deliciously relishing your singlehood.  Wherever you are, it doesn’t matter; this should be a happy time. So, on this 4th of July, look around, take in all of the blessings in your life, and enjoy yourself. That’s freedom. That’s happy.


Run, Bride, Run!!

by SweetMidlife

by Lynne Streeter Childress

So, yesterday, my sister Leslie wrote about “Say Yes to the Dress: Big Bliss”, and she talked briefly about her own wedding dress shopping experience, when she bought a beautiful sample dress at an intimate salon in Maryland. Well, my wedding dress story was a bit different. First of all, I bought my dress before I was officially engaged.

A little back-story…

Last year, my now-husband and I started pre-engagement counseling; this meant that we wanted to get married, but got all of our stuff out on the table before there were rings and down payments and stuff.  After we completed our sessions, AC said that the only thing left was for him to get the ring. This started a period where every time he bent down to tie his shoe or reach into his pocket to get a breath strip, my heart started beating really fast.   Since I couldn’t predict when the actual proposal was coming, I moved onto other matters. See, I knew that Filene’s Basement’s annual Running of the Brides was coming to my area. This is a once a year, one-day event staggered throughout the year and around the country where tons and tons of designer bridal gowns are WAY-discounted, starting at like $249.   It’s so named because, like the running of the bulls in Pamplona, Spain, people sprint wildly through enclosed spaces, dodging danger. Only instead of running away from charging animals, brides, many who have been waiting in line for hours outside the store waiting for the 8am door opening, are running towards racks and racks of beautiful dresses at insane prices.  I love when people complement my earrings and I say, “$4 at Target!!”, and I feel all smart and happy that I could spend the extra $ on those petite vanilla scone things at Starbucks. So spending less money on a wedding dress could mean I could spend what I saved on scones for everybody!! Which is why I asked A.C. if it was appropriate for me to attend such a sale to purchase a dress of such a kind for such an occasion that might be happening since he had already asked for my ring size and for me to send him pictures of what I liked.  And he said yes. So I made some phone calls.

So on July 30 of last year,  5 of my best friends (including the Leslie, who flew in just for me because she rocks) gathered at my house, and we embarked on trip to find me a wedding dress.   I had done some research on the Filene’s website, plus done a mess of Googling, and I came up with a game plan of how the day would go.  It turned out to be an AMAZING, AMAZING day, and here are some of my tips on manuvering the day, if you go to an upcoming Running.

  • Assemble a team of folks whose opinion you trust and make them dress alike.  The friends who helped me look for a dress were all people who know me really well, and want me to be happy, but not to look like a hot mess.  They all have STRONG views, but I knew they would be helpful and supportive.   I also asked them to all wear red, so we would be able to identify each other during the madness, but also because it made us feel like a unified group on a mission. Plus there were dollar store tiaras involved.  Here’s my dear Maria and I getting all Starbucked-up for the journey…

Maria and me, getting all caffeined-up for the trip

  • Go later in the day.  I know that there is an an excitement in standing on line with people for a common purpose, but I also knew that I did not want to fight people and rip dresses and trip and have to bail out my bridal party as “Meeting in the Ladies’ Room” plays on the store speakers (Klymaxx shout-out!!!).  I heard that you could go later in the day and still find good deals. So we went around 11:30. There were still PLENTY of dresses left, but they were now hung back up. And there was still lots of excitement and lots of people, and although we didn’t have to punch people, Maria did have to tell a few other brides to keep moving as they eyed the pile of dresses we gad assembled and were considering.
  • Be a little bold.  The dresses are on long racks in the middle of the store, and brides and their teams grab dresses and bring them to their bride, who has staked out a spot in the main showroom. Because you don’t use dressing rooms.  The Filene’s people advise wearing bathing suits because they cover you up but aren’t bulky. I wore a strapless bra and bike shorts.  Of course I wouldn’t normally shop in that, but again, it kind of added to the whole group feel, because all of the other brides were wearing the same thing.
  • Know what you like, but be willing to change your mind. I had gone through bridal magazines and ripped out pictures of dresses I thought would be good, and I handed them to my friends before we left so they would have an idea of what I was looking for.  Many of them were what Leslie calls “The Voice of Spring” dresses; floaty and romantic.  But I also know from my many hours of “Say Yes to the Dress” watching that brides often choose a dress that’s nothing like what they THOUGHT they wanted. This is why I had my friends pick all of the dresses that they could find in my size, a bridal 14 or 16.  (Another note: My friends brought me a good 15 dresses or more that day, all in larger sizes. This sale is a GREAT place for girls with curves to actually be able to try on dresses that they can actually wear).
  • Go with your gut. So we narrowed it down to 2 dresses. One was a beautiful almost-champagne colored strapless A-line that had no detail but a thin band of jewels under the bust, accented with a small bow. It was a grown-up dress, that made me feel really elegant, and actually made me tear-up a bit when I looked in the mirror, and was the fave of several in our party. The other was also an A-line, but more of the Voice of Spring variety.  It had these crazy embroidered detachable sleeves, beading across the top, and embroidery on the bust. Then there was the train. It was long and flouncy and had more embroidered flowers and when I looked behind myself in the mirror, I felt light and giggly and like I always thought I would feel. And in the end, even though the first dress made me cry in a good way, I went with the one that made me smile. And everyone was happy!!
  • Make a party out of it by including those you love.  In the end, not only did I have an amazing dress to wear on the big day, but I had whole day with some of my favorite people, and we laughed and loved and ran and oohed and ahhed and tried to zip up some things that wouldn’t zip and were all treated to a victory lunch by my roommate, where we texted pictures of the dress to my mom in Arkansas, and called my grandma and described what I got. The dress itself  it was a group-buy, with contributions by myself, my sister, and a dear, dear friend who prefers to stay anonymous but made a really, really, sweet gift towards the purchase of the dress. That’s love.

So, we pulled up to my house at the same time as AC, who was meeting Leslie, her husband and me to go to a party. We made him close his eyes and hide in the kitchen until I got to hide the dress upstairs where he wouldn’t see it. That was Friday.  And 2 days later, after church, and lunch, and a George Clooney movie on DVD,  he pulled out this little box that he actually had had with him on Friday and he opened it, and I couldn’t breathe, and he asked if he could put what was in the box on my left hand, and I said yes, and we kinda stared at at each other, and it was blurry and somewhere in there I said that if there was a question attached to this then the answer was yes and he said that if I wanted to keep it, I had to marry him and I said I could do that.

And 2 months later, I walked down the aisle in the smiley floaty dress, surrounded by my friends and family, feeling as pretty as I ever have.  In the end, though, it’s not about the dress, but about WHY you’re wearing it, and who you are walking down the aisle in it to meet.  And if you got that part right, then you’ve already gotten the best deal ever.


First Rule of Bride at 35 Book Club. You Talk about Bride at 35 Book Club.

by SweetMidlife

Hi y’all!! So it’s been a few weeks since we invited you guys to join the book club we made up as we read our first book, “Baby Proof”, by Emily Giffin.  “Baby Proof” is a really interesting novel about a woman dealing with issues that many of us are, like love, marriage, and babies, and if you really want any of those. We are pleased to report, that including me (Lynne) and sister Leslie, we have 5 members of our club!! Woo-hoo! We and our cohorts are going to read the book, and on May 20th, we will discuss the book in an online chat, and then post what we will know will be a riveting conversation in a future blog post!

So here’s the good news: It’s not too late to join us!

– Get “Baby Proof”!

-Write us at bride35@gmail.com or on Facebook or Tweet us or something and let us know that you are in!!

– Read the book by May 20th, look at the Reading Group questions at the back of the book, and join out online discussion.

I am really anxious and excited to see what you guys think of the book, and if it made you nod knowinglyas you read it like it made me because I could really identify with many of the characters in the book. But more of that on May 20th.

Thanks, y’all!!


The Inaugural Bride at 35 Book Club!!

by SweetMidlife

Hey, this is Lynne, one of the Brides at 35.

So, I was in a Borders in San Antonio last week with my husband perusing the stacks for something to read for the plane trip home when I came across Emily Giffin’s book, “Baby Proof”.  It’s about a couple in their 30’s who get married because of all they have in common, including the non-desire to have kids.  All is going well, until a few years into the marriage, when the husband changes his mind. This caught my attention, because as newly-married people, my husband and I traded “So when are you gonna get married?” for “So when are you gonna have kids?” as the question we hear most often.  The question looms, though, since he’s in his 40’s, and I will be by this time next week (Yep, that’s happening).  And it’s not just because other people ask; we both really want them, but wanted to get a hang of this marriage thing first. Still, every time I see a baby, I get a bit giddy. We hung out with our 4 nephews in TX, and the 7 month old and 2 year old are hilarious, and the 7 year-old and 11 year-old are smart and polite and sweet and just cool people, and after a week with them, the baby thing was way up on things I was thinking about that day in the bookstore.

So I bought the book, and I read it on the plane, and it was the first time in a long time that I couldn’t put a book down. It’s funny and touches not on just the desire to have or not have children, but also issues of infertility, or what you give up of your current life when you have kids or a spouse, but mostly about what you will or won’t do for love.  It really made me think, and I think it will make YOU think too (and I say this to all of you guys, whether single, married, parent or not will get something out of this book because it has something for everybody).

So I propose this….

BOOK CLUB!! BOOK CLUB!!

I want y’all to do this….

– Go out and buy “Baby Proof” or get it from the library (there is a picture of it above. It’s yellow)

-Write us at bride35@gmail.com or on Facebook or Tweet us or something and tell us that you are in by this Monday, 4/25

– Read the book by May 20th (that’s a month), look at the Reading Group questions at the back of the book, and we will set-up an online conference and discuss the book

-We’ll print the exciting parts in our blog!!

So, you in? So far, it’s Leslie (the other Bride) and me. If we get 1 more person, it will be a go!!  Again, I think that most of you, Bride at 35 readers, will see yourself somewhere in this book. Let us know by Monday, April 25, and we will get our read-on!!

See ya then, we hope!


Like a Virgin. Well, not “Like” one. Just a Virgin.

by SweetMidlife

 

By Lynne Childress

 Is there something about yourself that you are pretty proud of, but don’t wave around like a banner? It’s not that you are ashamed of it, because it’s actually the opposite, but you don’t want people to think that you are judging if they’ve chosen something else? Well, until October, I had something like that.

 I was a virgin until my wedding day, October 2, 2010. Yep, I was the “39 Year-old Virgin”, a year younger than Steve Carrell in that movie, but with cuter hair. It’s something I chose, based on what I know God wanted for me. And it wasn’t easy, and I didn’t advertise it, because I didn’t want to come off as smug or judgmental or Holy-rolleresque. I was more thankful than proud, because unlike many things in my life that I have started and abandoned (I’m looking at you, Grad School, that move to New York , my banana bread/nacho truck/craft fair business, and my Zumba for people with joint problems certification), this is something I stuck out, thank God. I shared it with other people I knew were walking the same walk, or were really close to, or if I thought that I had to bring it up now to stave off awkward situations later (like when I asked my now-husband’s niece if she had a bridesmaid I could room with when we traveled to VA for her wedding, since we didn’t want to room together). But I didn’t wear a t-shirt, and when it was the right time for me to change my status, well, I did, happily (tee-hee).

 And I was fine, keeping it to myself but bringing it out if need be, because I wanted to encourage friends of mine who were holding out by telling them that it was so worth it in the end, but not wanting to become one of those folks who the brilliant Bridget Jones called “ a smug married”, which my friend Elicia tells me I’m not. Which is good. You know those folks who like to tell single people how much wisdom they’ve gained in their married state, while looking down their noises at you with the faint musk of “Glad I’m Not YOU Anymore. By Faberge” wafting from their married necks?

 But I recently saw several depictions of virgins and virginity on TV, which I watch much of, and it occurred to me that I needed to write down my thoughts on what I saw.

 The first was on “Glee”, a show I wish I had come on 15-20 years ago when I was still young enough to play a teen, because I would have loved to be on this 2000’s version of “Fame”, where people break into song in the choir room, or lunch room, and dance on tables and know all of the words and back-up harmonies. There is an “Abstinence Club”, and from the beginning of the series, it’s been played as sort of a joke, since the idea is that most teens aren’t virgins, or if they are, they definitely aren’t joining a club and telling people about it, and if they are, it’s because they are hypocrites, or afraid, or trying to reclaim their virginity if they lost it and it didn’t turn out the way they wanted, or if they are trying to forget sex and focus on their singing careers. A recent episode reintroduced the Abstinence folks, in particular the faculty adviser, an OCD woman who talks in a baby voice and doesn’t want to be touched, even by her new husband, played by the delicious John Stamos ( she is secretly still in love with the Glee-club adviser). This woman is so out of touch that she actually thought that “Afternoon Delight” was a song about a delicious dessert, and was stunned to discover that it was about the joys of daytime sex. Funny, right? Nobody normal actually chooses that, right?

 The second was something I saw maybe the day before I saw the Glee episode, on “Oprah: Behind the Scenes”, or the “After the Magic” or whatever it’s called. It’s the show that comes on the Oprah Winfrey Network that highlights the producers behind this last season of O’s syndicated show. It’s kind of neat to see the running-around that the producers have to do to make it work. There was this episode when the producers were planning a show called “The 30-year-old Virgin”, featuring a young woman who was cute and sweet and 30, but hadn’t had sex yet, and wrote the “Oprah” show because she wanted some help with changing that. Apparently, she had some self-esteem issues, and was afraid to put herself out there and let herself be loved. So the Oprah producers set her up with a relationship coach, who worked with her and put her through some exercises that would eventually give her the confidence to go out there and meet somebody and have sex like any normal person in America should be doing. And to their surprise, ANOTHER woman in her 30’s wrote them too and said that she was in the same boat, so they put her through the same course as well. And the producers seemed pretty pleased with themselves that they could help shake this woman out of her spinster-dom.

 So, every episode there is the scene where the producers tell “Oprah” about how their preparations have been going for the next show. This time, The O seemed caught off-guard, because she had NO recollection of ever okaying this show. After being reminded by her staff that she most certainly did, Oprah said that what made her uneasy was not that there was actually a virgin in her 30’s, but that the show was acting as if this was uncommon. “I am sure”, said Oprah, “that there are many women out there here are still waiting until they get married to have sex. You’re acting like it’s abnormal”.  And the producers stared at her wide-eyed and one of them said, “Well, it kinda is.” Oprah said to go through with the show, but from the standpoint that this was about the journey that these two women had decided to take, and not a blanket statement that all middle-aged virgins needed to go into therapy, because Oprah was sure that there were women out there who were making the conscious decision to wait until marriage. The producers were so sure that this was not the case, and that Oprah would see. Well, on show day, right before the guests came out, Oprah quizzed her audience and said, “How many of you think that it is strange to be a single woman in your 30’s who is still a virgin?”, and to her shock, pretty much everyone raised their hands. “Wow”, said Oprah. “I guess that I didn’t have my finger on the pulse of America the way I thought I did”, and the producers proudly pronounced that Oprah was a bit out of touch, and that they were right, and the two young women featured on the show did a nice segment and were ready to go out there and let down their inhibitions and have a normal adult relationship that would, naturally, lead to sex, because that’s what all relationships that are right lead to. Right?

And that’s what made me want to get my thoughts down. See, “Glee” and “Oprah” are both shows that seem to encourage people to be themselves, whoever that is, without judgment. The show choir on “Glee” is made up of overweight kids, a kid in a wheelchair, several jocks and cheerleaders who have embraced their inner performer, several gay and bi-sexual kids, and is also kinda racially diverse (There are several white kids, two Asians, 1 Latina, and 1 Black girl. There was a black guy, but he transferred out). They are mercilessly tormented by other students and one faculty member, and are struggling with what it means to really be THEM, but the idea is that Glee-club is a safe space to do that realizing and stuff in. And “Oprah” is all about living your best life and being your authentic self, and Dreaming BIG and whatnot. Seriously, I credit God and an article in an issue of “Oprah” magazine called “Dream Big” with encouraging me to open myself up to applying for arts-related jobs again during a period in my life where I was taking a break from acting because, well, I liked to pay rent and make my car payments.

 Digression-aside, the point is that both “Oprah” and “Glee” seemed like places where I could feel comfortable being whoever I was. But at that moment, it seemed like whoever I was didn’t fit in with the new idea of “normal”, and that meant I was either fooling myself, repressed, or lying. And this made me a bit angry.

 You see, I DECIDED to wait until after I got married to have sex. It wasn’t that I was afraid to love, or that I was hiding in my room, or that I wasn’t happy with myself. It was a decision born out of my faith, and I felt that I wanted to share that moment with 1 person, the person who I planned to spend the rest of my days with. I know many people in Christian circles who either have the same idea, or if they’ve already had sex, are waiting to have it again until after they marry, but I also knew other women of different faiths or who didn’t subscribe to any religious faith in particular, but had just decided that they wanted to have that experience with their future spouse and that person only. And I felt that after all of those years of trying to lay low and smile and nod because I didn’t want to come off as judgmental, that now I was the one being judged. And I had to say something.

 Sex is a personal thing and something, hopefully, that you get to choose the timing on. I am not going to launch into a dressing down of current media and society and go on and on about how we’ve gone downward and whatnot and intimate that everyone needs to make the choices that I did. Because choices are just that, and regardless of what you or I see as right or wrong, whatever choices you make, in the end, have to be valid and right for you. And if you can make the valid choice that you are ready to have sex when it’s right for you, then it should also be a valid choice for others to decide that they want to wait.

 I was not one of those who waited until their wedding day to even kiss their spouse, and it was not that I was not a sexual person; I’ve made-out plenty of times, and know how to shake my thing at a party, and may have kissed a stranger guy at the Baja beach club in Ft. Lauderdale when I was 23 after on Ladies Night. Yeah, that happened. Fast forward 16 years to my engagement to AC, where the abstinence got harder, because, we were almost THERE, and I had to pray for strength every time I saw him because I wanted to keep the promise that I made to God because I knew that it was right for us. Thankfully, our engagement was only 2-months long (we had dated for about 2.5 years at this point), so we didn’t have to linger there long. YAY. Because my husband is kinda fine. Just putting that out there. So, it’s not that I am amazing, but that I was blessed that I had a boyfriend, then fiance’, who had made the decision that he would not have sex again until he was married, and that by the grace of God, we got through it, and it turned out to be wonderful. Tee hee.

 So, here is why I decided to share all of this. I knew that I wasn’t the only person who had made that decision for themselves, and I wanted people to know that even though we might have chosen a different path, it was just that. A choice. You aren’t a weirdo if you’ve waited or are waiting to have sex until after marriage, and you aren’t a harlot if you didn’t. You are you, capable of your own decisions, decisions that don’t necessarily need to be repeated by everyone that you know, but that shouldn’t be ridiculed either. I just wanted people to know that we are out there, the 30/40/50/60 year-old virgins. Adult women who have made a conscious choice to wait, and will take care of that not because they are trying to right something that’s wrong, but because for them, giving that gift to their future spouse only is right.


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