Throwback Diaries: The Morning of the Wedding

Castellina in Chianti, 2014

 

The morning is a crisp 40 degrees.

I tiptoe to the bathroom to plug in my curling iron and rinse my face. 

You're getting married today, I think to myself. I stand in front of the sink waiting for panic to set. I have spent countless hours reading marriage and relationship articles in an attempt to prepare for the worst. In everything I have read, it never fails to mention the normalcy of cold feet. Do you have cold feet? I stare at my toes waiting for a reaction. They are cold, but only because it is, again, 40 degrees. A more pressing thought came to my mind, what does it mean when you don't have cold feet?

I look into the bedroom and stare at my sleeping groom. I remember the very first time I laid eyes on him - a confident senior stretching out his hand while introducing himself. I remember feeling anxious because I have never met someone so forward, yet respectful. That same person is going to be my husband in approximately four hours. 

I gently curl my hair, taking careful consideration of every piece that is attached. I have done this hundreds of times but this morning I want everything to look perfect. I slowly apply my makeup while looking at the squirrel outside our window. We did not reserve the fanciest room. We chose a traditional Tuscany farmhouse. Out of all the wedding details, our room gets that factor.

I stare out the window, half excited for the day and half panicking for my bare shoulders. The sky is gray and I start worrying about potential rain. I know it is coming today. May is a very rainy month for Italy. I kept my fingers crossed all night all the while fighting my inner bridezilla that is trying to control the situation. 

How bad can it get? If it rains, we will just be wet. In our elopement ceremony. In a converted castle in Tuscany. Tania, stop. If it rains, you will look like the happiest wet bride rat.

I look online to check predicted rain start times. Right now, it will be clear throughout the ceremony. Somehow I calmed down and Chris slowly woke up. 

"Hi, baby," he greets.

“Hi.”

“We’re getting married today.”

“I know!”

I smile and give him a kiss. He starts putting on his suit while I wrap my flowers with leftover tulle and the heirloom pendant his mother gave me.

I start making the bed and rearranging our collective jewelry while waiting for the villa owner and impromptu wedding witness to help button me in. 

Someone knocks on the door. I open it to see both the photographer and villa owner.

“Good morning!” says Rochelle, the photographer.

I leave her to take detail shots while I shoo Chris out of the room. After a few minutes, I shimmy into my gown. This is day five of our conjoined elopement in Italy and I have not held back on enjoying pastas and desserts. Please zip, please zip, please zip, I chant internally.

“Wow. This dress is a perfect fit!” says the villa owner.

I slide into my shoes and clasp my bracelet. I walk to the mirror to apply lipstick and give myself a quick once-over. I look like me. My makeup is the same. My hair is the same. I look like myself in a pretty white dress. Fully elated with the end result, I put on my earrings and veil.

Shit, I don’t have bobby pins. Without realizing, this ‘mistake’ set the tone for the rest of the day. I immediately stopped caring whether or not it rains. I stopped caring whether or not it is cold. I stopped caring whether or not my lipstick stays.

I walk out to the balcony. There are a handful of guests outside waiting for me. Rochelle hid Chris under the balcony near the small tunnel to the other side of the villa. I slowly walk down to meet him.

I turn the corner and we caught eyes.

Sincerely, Tania

Capsule Wardrobe: Everyday Makeup

Part of minimizing wasted time in the day is streamlining your makeup routine. For this capsule, I do not like to focus on the amount of items but rather on the items that makes you comfortable. I find this to be the most personal aspect of capsule creating. For example, because I am asian, I do not have much redness so I can cut color correction from my bag.

The important thing is finding a look that is easy and makes you feel confident.

In my makeup bag:

  1. MUFE foundation
  2. Bobbi Brown concealer
  3. Too Face eyeshadow primer
  4. MAC Mineralize powder
  5. Too Face bronzer
  6. Other blush
  7. Anastacia eyebrow pot
  8. Stila eyeliner
  9. Maybelline mascara
  10. Burt’s Bees lip balm

I start with applying my MUFE foundation with a damp sponge. Some people find this formula to be too thick but I find that only to be the case when my sponge is not damp enough. This bottle will last me a good 3-4 months. Next up, I dab concealer around my dark circles and eyeshadow primer over my eyelids to prevent creases throughout the day. I finish this off with the mineralize powder to help set everything in place. The bronzer is used for my cheekbones to give me some dimension, and the blush is to add a healthy glow. Then I fill in my eyebrows with the cream pot and create a winged eyeliner. Finish it off with mascara and lip balm.

To some people, this is a lot of work - I actually complete this in 6 minutes. To others, this might seem like too little. I guess it just depends on the look you’re going for. This is my everyday makeup. This is the bare minimum that I feel is acceptable in the workplace and cute enough for date night.

Find a routine that works for you and you can complete in 10 minutes and under – and enjoy the uncluttered drawer!

Sincerely, Tania

Three Simple Steps to Getting Rid of Expectation Guilt

Growing up, one of the main things that took up my brain space was guilt. Guilt in not being a good enough daughter, student, believer, friend, etc. I constantly felt like I wasn’t good enough because I didn’t meet (insert person/idea here)’s expectations of me. I spent most of my childhood, high school, and college trying to please everyone that I graduated not knowing anything about myself. That empty feeling gave me a weird out of body experience. I felt like I was going through the motions of life because it’s what society wants – but I had no passion.

By reading constantly and taking the time to ask myself what I want out of life, I managed to figure out the top three key items in helping me get rid of unwarranted guilt. The fact is, you are living your life for you. No one else can live it for you. Why waste precious brain space on guilt when you can use it to create the kind of life you want for yourself?

Stop Comparing Yourself to Others. There are so many things at play outside of the beautiful life you see on social media. I do not blame those people for putting their best foot forward because no one wants to air dirty laundry in public – most people don’t, at least. For example, someone can show their talent in keeping a catalog worthy home, while you are a slob trying not to drown in tasks. What you might not realize is that they work part time, hired a maid so they don’t have to live in clutter, or spend their extra time cleaning because of their own OCD.  In the meantime, you are working full time, cook all your meals, and exercise 5 days a week. If the circumstances aren’t even, how can we compare them?

Say No. Many people think that saying yes is the only way to please the other person. This is correct when you are excited and fully commit to your word. What would please others is for you to say no when you don’t really want to do it and leave them enough time to get a backup person. There is nothing worse for your friend (and for you) than you showing up to go through the motions but secretly miserable. We all think we can put up a good front, but misery is very easy to spot.

Do Not Plan Your Life according to Someone Else’s Rules. Not even your parents. Actually – especially your parents. While your parents mean well, they lived through a different timeline. They grew up in a time when getting married is almost a necessity because it is almost unheard of to see an independent woman. They grew up where they are basically taught their worth is to raise children and keep a beautiful home. Obviously, you are in the most progressive timeline yet. You don’t have to get married if you don’t want to. You don’t have to have children if you don’t want to. You can create your own life.

As stated in my title, these steps are simple – but I find that the simplest lessons are the toughest to digest. Oftentimes you think, “Oh, that’s so easy. I can do that later,” and never actually get around to doing it. I’m here to tell you that it’s time. It’s time to sit down and think about each step at length and let go of that clinging guilt.

Take a deep breath and inhale positive thoughts. Exhale everything else out.

Sincerely, Tania

Four Steps to Moving Past Forgiven Emotional Baggage

I attended a meeting a few months ago that mentioned emotional baggage. She spoke about how many people do not realize they carry all this baggage that is hindering their own happiness. While emotional baggage is obvious when it comes to current issues, you forget about the ones that you have forgiven.

This struck me hard because my high school/college best friend and I parted ways last fall.

While I think it was a case of us growing apart and not necessarily anyone’s fault, we left on bad terms. We stayed connected on Facebook because I had hopes for a reconciliation in the future. After so many months of her being unresponsive, I grew more and more resentful – and I did not realize it. Until one day, I looked at her page and noticed that I had inexplicable anxiety. I finally connected it with residual feelings from our past and current situation. I was mourning our old connection; I was angry at how easy it was to drop; and at the same time, I felt relief for the end. While I truly wish her the best, I still felt a sting with how things ended. Finally, I up and decided to delete her off my feed.

While it may seem like a small gesture, I felt tremendous release the very next day. I felt like I closed that chapter out of my life and laid it down to rest.

Identify baggage. Recognize anxiety the moment it hits. At first, it might just be a ‘funny feeling’. After multiple exposure to the culprit – whether it be live, online, or spoken – you will start noticing a pattern.

Accept the baggage. For the longest, I wanted to be that strong one, the one that doesn’t get hung up on stuff like this. As a result, I couldn’t identify my baggage – out of denial. Because of this, accepting my emotional baggage was the toughest step for me. I had to let go of my own ego and admit that I am still bothered by it.

Wallow in the baggage. This sounds counterintuitive, but I think it’s very important to feel this connection before you close the chapter. The takeaway from this step is to be confident in your decision. After I realized the connection, I had even more anxiety. Did I make the right decision? Is there room for reconciliation? Take a few days (or weeks) to finalize your decision. Never decide while you are feeling anything outside of content. Make sure you are perfectly happy with your life so you can complete this step objectively.

Close the chapter. Delete the individual off social media. Delete them from your phone. Delete past texts and whatever form of break up you used. While it may seem small, it is a very necessary step in getting rid of hidden baggage. Like any other break up, it is hard to see someone that you’ve shared a history with move on. Even if it was amicable, you don’t want to be brought to that place of frustration and sadness.

You’d be surprised how much lighter your mind and heart become when you follow these steps.

Sincerely, Tania

Smart Business Summer 10x10: Look #10

Finally, my last look of the summer 10x10 corporate wear series. As I look back on everything, I realize that I do not regret any pieces or match-ups. At this point, I know what I like to wear in everyday life and try to incorporate that into my business attire - so I rarely feel uncomfortable in my clothes and fully capable to handle all sorts of problems during the day. 

After spending most of spring and summer in these same pieces, I'm looking to change up a few things for the fall! I can't wait to reveal those soon!

Sincerely, Tania

Smart Business Summer 10x10: Look #9

This look is one of my favorites!

I l-o-v-e a good chambray shirt. It covers up everything you need, gives you structure, and soft to the touch. With the top leaning more toward the billowy, loose style, I try to pair it with something more shapely to define my body - an essential part of corporate attire. You don't want to be so stiff that you're uncomfortable, but also not so loose that you cross that casual line into slob status.

Again, it's important to note that polished hair and clean makeup is essential to tying the look together.

Sincerely, Tania

Smart Business Summer 10x10: Look #8

I cannot say enough positive things about this top. This is the most hard working piece in my entire work wardrobe. It is machine washable, wrinkle resistant, and dryer friendly. This top is a dream. Had I known it would be this great, I would’ve bought triples of the same colors (I have another one in cream). 

I want to call attention to my long legs in these photos – mostly because I am a stumpy 5’3.5” with athletic legs that make me look even shorter – but check out these stems. I cheated with close fitting dark crops and nude heels – but it’s amazing how much more confident I get feeling this tall!

Of course, as per usual, I pair it with my work bag + simple makeup :)

Sincerely, Tania

Smart Business Summer 10x10: Look #7

Dallas’s humidity levels reached peak grossness recently. Every time I attempt to take outfit photos outside my camera lens fog up, rendering it useless. I haven’t settled into my new home enough to start researching studio backdrops – but I’m thinking this is now a priority.

In this outfit, we see my most favorite work jacket and a one piece black circle dress. I am slowly turning my entire wardrobe to this type of ultra-minimal, albeit bland, pieces. I really enjoy that the first thing you notice is me – instead of the color of my jacket, the cute print on my blouse, etc. While I believe people should be able to express themselves at work, I also believe that the number one image you should portray (if you have goals of progressing in your career) is maturity. After all, higher ups look for competency before they look at personality.

Sincerely, Tania

Smart Business Summer 10x10: Look #6

We’re in the middle of that stifling Dallas humidity right now – the kind where the city is a ghost town outside of lunch hours and early evenings. It’s ridiculous. Surprisingly, this blazer kept me cool. The white bounces light, and the thin fabric keeps it breezy. Long sleeves sound crazy, but it covers you up from the burning sun. I had a tank top underneath for when the weather turns into a baking kind of heat, instead of broiler.

When I first planned on this outfit, I was afraid it might be a bit too casual – what with everything so flimsy and loose. Thankfully, the structured bag and heels improved the outfit as a whole. I think that is key to making casual items corporate friendly – balancing them with structured pieces.

Sincerely, Tania

Smart Business Summer 10x10: Look #5

It's been quite a tough couple of weeks. Between a persistent sinus infection and current events, I haven't been feeling up to blogging. But recently I was able to spend an entire weekend at home and finished a lot of my home projects - and I'm back at it again!

I am forever in love with this color combination. Blush pink makes all skin tones more rosey and romantic. When paired with a khaki color, it just makes the whole outfit soothing and calm.

As you can see, my makeup is very simple and natural. I like to find a go-to look for work and make sure I am consistent every day. Bonus: the more you practice, the less time it all takes.

Sincerely, Tania

Smart Business Summer 10x10: Look #4

Unsurprisingly, chambray tops are very versatile. Find a darker shade in a thin breezy fabric, and you’ve got a piece that will transcend all seasons and dress codes.

This outfit is especially perfect for summer days because the skirt is breezy enough to give a bit of breathing room, and the top is structured enough to keep it looking “put together”. Add heels and it’s an instant look.

I will be honest that I carry around a pair of flats to wear on the way to the office – or whenever I feel like my feet are swollen from the heat. If you have the same problem, find a pair of flats that are plain and solid so you can match it with half your closet.

Sincerely, Tania

Smart Business Summer 10x10: Look #3

This outfit is the most conservative of them all! 

And also the toughest to photograph.

This summer has been unforgivingly humid and I had to get my husband to play photographer for this outfit - notice the burst of giggles - because I can't be outside in it for too long or the camera fogs up.

I usually save this for important meetings and presentations. The pencil skirt is very stretchy so it does not pose an issue when you're sitting at your desk.

I enjoy monochromatic looks because it gives a very sleek and put-together vibe.

Sincerely, Tania

Lessons from the French Countryside

After international trips, I like to slowly review the experience and look for the life lessons. Because if I don’t learn anything, then what’s the point of travel? I enjoy seeing different cultures and witnessing how the rest of the world lives. It keeps my mind open to new things and helps me see the value in different ideas.

Being in America for so long, it is difficult to take yourself out of context and evaluate the rest of the world. Some of us believe we know the correct way to live life. We should go to grade school, complete college, and build a career. Or, we should get married and have children and create the perfect home life. Or, we should take a year off and do a little soul searching. We forget that other parts of the world do not have this luxury. There are parts of the world that are so small that traveling for enjoyment and choosing to have a career is not something they worry about. Some parts of the world are family focused.

Like the French countryside.

Sure, there are wineries that are business-centric and worry about the bottom dollar. For every successful one, there are waves of local producers that just want to make wine to enjoy with the family. For every Michelin starred restaurant, there are multiple local eateries that just want to share their family recipes.

Important Takeaways:

Enjoy the moment. This was kind of forced on us because service was slower and stores/markets close early. After a few days of this, we got the point they were trying to make and stopped trying to fill our days with activities. We started to day our day one hour at a time. When we had unexpected free time, we drove around and really took in our surroundings.

Dinner is a time to review the day. I am used to quick dinners where we just grab food and eat in front of the TV – because nighttime is the only chance I get to catch up on my favorite shows and relax from the day. In the countryside, dinners are full drawn out courses because they want you to unwind and enjoy yourself, not eat and go to bed. I am not fortunate enough to have this opportunity nightly as my husband travels for work, but I believe in the lesson. You spend the whole day being separate from your loved ones out of life obligations/passions – it is wise to use the evening to reconnect and come back to that family unit.

Follow your internal clock. This one takes a little bit of work to follow. The lesson is to sleep until you wake up and use your time wisely. We are always going against our internal clock. We get coffees to force us awake and sleeping pills to reverse the effects. I am surprised that no one actually questions this norm and found another way. Outside of medical issues, your body knows what it needs. If you feel the need to nap in the afternoon, you are either bored, not getting restful sleep, or not getting enough energy from nutritious foods. It takes a little bit of an adjustment and routine building, but when you wake up at the same time every day without an alarm, the day starts much more pleasant.

Perfection is overrated. Stop worrying about having mismatched plates – they are just there to hold food. Stop worrying about having the correct wine glasses – the best part is inside the glass. Worrying about having the perfect everything takes too much brain space. In the end, the people that matter do not care about your things.

Be presentable. I have noticed that even though the town consists of farm work, manual labor, and housekeeping, the people are always presentable. While they have no makeup and their hair is un-styled, they are clean and wearing real clothes – a far cry from wearing pajamas in the grocery store and sweats while running errands.

Sincerely, Tania

Smart Business Summer 10x10: Look #2

Solid, plain dresses are magic.

Truth be told, I used to be one of those people that smirk at such boring clothes – but I’ve recently come to embrace it. This simple dress is so easy to dress up and down.

For work, I add a statement necklace and heels since there is very little happening with the dress. For casual days, I pair it with gingham flats, wild hair, and a thin necklace. For date nights, I add boots/heels alongside statement earrings and curled hair. Such versatility!

I might transition my entire wardrobe to Plain Jane dresses because of this.

Sincerely, Tania

Smart Business Summer 10x10: Look #1

I wanted to start off my 10x10 experiment (link) with a bang but Dallas is trying to drown itself. It has been pouring every other hour. If it’s not pouring, the whole city turns gray and there is thick moisture in the air.

During this shoot, the humidity was almost 100%. I walked out of my car and my camera lens immediately fogged up. In addition, my hair was noncompliant and my makeup started to melt. Just one giant mess.

BUT hopefully the idea comes through.

This outfit is one of the most comfortable work appropriate ones I own. The skirt and blouse are breezy and not too constricting. Pair it with pointy heels and you look like you have it all together without feeling too stiff.

Since my office is generally warmer than I’d like, I tend to roll up the sleeves. I enjoy the little bit of a casual touch.

Sincerely, Tania