Making Moments Matter: A Guide to Conversations

This is part 1 of a new series: Unconventional Resources for the Engaged.

You’re getting married. Fantastic.

There are approximately 18 gazillion websites out there ready to sell you pretty stationary and silly cake toppers.

But you know what?  Ehhh…

The abosolute, bar-none, #1 top most important thing you could be doing right now is this: talking with your partner, and then talking with your families.

I know – picking out cocktail napkins is more fun.  But the talking, now, will impact the rest of your life.  The napkins won’t.

And the trouble is, no one teaches us how to have an honest, deep conversation.  Sure, miscommunication fuels half the romantic comedies in Hollywood, but marriage is real, and hard, and it’s much much better when you’re on the same page with your sweetie, and when you’re clear and honest with your families about this new family you’re building.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if someone, say, a relationship coach or two, would sit down and explain to you how to figure out what’s important for you to say, how to talk so that you can be heard, and how to really listen?

You lucky duck – they already have!

In Conversations for Making Moments Matter, Judy Elkin and Pearl Mattenson lay out strategies for talking about the important moments in our lives (weddings, natch, but also graduations, funerals, even vacations!) with the people who matter most to us.

Ironically, the people you’re closest to can be the hardest to talk to, and the important moments can be the hardest to talk about!  That’s why you can get into a minute analysis of last night’s Mad Men with you mom, but never quite bring yourself to tell her that your vision of your wedding doesn’t match up with hers.

Conversations for Making Moments Matter is like having a coach in your pocket, walking you through those conversations.  Yes, they can be awkward and weird – but they can also be important and painful and awesome.   This book gives you the tools to approach these conversations, and strategies for when conflict arises, so that you can feel confident treading territory that may be new for you.

It’s an eb00k, so you can download it and start reading in minutes.  Go, now.
This is part 1 of a new series, Unconventional Resources for the Engaged.  Please leave a comment with your thoughts on this resource and other resources you’d like to see.  Coming up: books on money and imperfection – hot topics!
Advertisements

“She *gets* relationships” A review from Pearl Mattenson

I met Pearl Mattenson when we both wrote for (now defunct) Carrie + Danielle.  Though we still haven’t met “in person,” we’ve been internet buddies ever since.  When I saw her profiled on Fear.Less (go read it, it’s awesome) recently, I had to drop her a congratulatory note.  We got to chatting and turns out we were both working on book projects.

Pearl is a leadership and relationship coach, with all this training and years of experience, so I was waiting with bated breath to see what she’d think of my book, which is a lot more about relationships than it is about tulle and bows.  Just the other day, she posted this on Amazon:

A “meaningful” gift to couples… [5 stars]

Suzyn is a talented writer with a down home sense of humor so I knew I would laugh. (I did). I also knew she was wise beyond her years and I would learn from this book. (I did). What I had not realized is that even without the years of training I have put in, she gets relationships and how to create meaning- in her bones. What I love about this book is that it gets at the core of what is important.

Suzyn gets right to the point- It is not about the magazine driven mayhem that wedding planning has become. It is about you and your partner. It is about building a life and setting the tone for how that life together will begin. The book is content rich AND a workbook. And because the questions Suzyn asks are so fundamental and important- it is more than a workbook. It becomes a repository for your (you & your partner’s) most heartfelt dreams and closely held values.

The beautiful cover ensures this will be a keepsake that stays with the wedding album and will be pored over for years to come.

I think I’ve read this 50 times since she posted it – I’m completely blown away and so so honored!

Stay tuned for my review of Pearl’s book, Conversations for Making Moments Matter.  It’s fantastic.

 

#84

I launched my book two days ago, March 8.  Over the past two days, I’ve posted here, I’ve tweeted, and most importantly I’ve emailed just about everyone I know (if you know me and you didn’t get an email, it’s because I have an old email address for you!)  And, voila:  I’m in the top 100 wedding planning books on Amazon.com!!!

But the best part by far is all the wonderful notes I’ve been getting.  I am really fortunate to know a large number of lovely people.  My heart is filled with thanks today.

Update: Later in the day, I hit #19!

My Book is on Amazon!!!

CoverHi!

I am beyond thrilled to be able to say:

My book is available on Amazon.com.

Going Home Married: How to Plan a Meaningful Wedding Without Losing Your Mind

(Isn’t it beautiful?)

The gist: The aesthetics of your wedding should support your relationship, and not the other way around.  Figure out what getting married means to you, build a ceremony around that, and then build an event around the ceremony.  Simple.

Here’s what people are saying about it:

Your writing style is so open and direct, it’s a breath of fresh and inspiring air! Clearly says to readers “you can do this and have a great time doing it.”  –Bryan Smith

I LOVE the short lists of simple things. I love the slashing through the extras to get to the essential. It’s like spring cleaning. I think this will appeal to the sorts of people who want permission to do something individual and personal (perhaps unconventional) instead of prescribed. –Kirsten Hall

The realization that one needs to think critically about the so-called wisdom and utility of most wedding books is a true gift. Plus, your book is genuinely funny—it will get people laughing while they plan their weddings.  –Caitlin Craven 

Intrigued?  You can download a sample chapter here.

Sold?  Buy it, please!  (It’s only $10.)

I need your help.

Here’s the thing:  There’s no such thing as a giant, anonymous “book buying public.”  No “media machine.”  There are only people, like you and me, talking to each other.  So please, if you believe in this book and its message (or, if you just like me) talk about it.  Tweet it.  Post it.  Email the preview chapter to all your friends.  Give the book as an engagement gift.  Post a review on amazon (hugely helpful).  Mention it to your neighbor.

I truly believe this book will help people.  But before it can help people, they need to hear about it.

Thank you thank you thank you.

One more thing.

I’m setting up a blog tour.  My goal is 31 blogs for the 31 days of May.  Reviews, guest posts, interviews, excerpts, contests…  If you would like to be involved, please let me know.

Thank you.  So many people have supported and encouraged me in this project.  I feel lucky to have such wonderful people in my corner.

Suzyn

Proof

My proof copy arrived over the weekend.

Going Home Married Proof Copy

It’s real.  It’s here.  It’s a book!  My hands shook as I held it.

Then, as you can see, I read it cover to cover and filled it with post-it notes (pink ones, natch!) with tweaks, nits, teensy changes.  It’s almost there. It’s almost ready to share with the world.

So in honor of my proof, of my almost-there-ness, of my shaking hands…  I’d like to share with you my favorite paragraph from the whole book.  This is from the end of the chapter on clothes.

Gorgeous You

Ultimately, this day is about you, not about your dress or your tie or your shoes. The clothes you wear are simply the packaging that allows you to be the very best you on this day. Think about who you are, at this moment, at your age, embarking on this great adventure. You do not have to be the best you that ever was or ever will be, simply the best you right now. How did you get to this point in your life? Where are you going from here? Obviously you’re pretty wonderful—after all, someone wants to partner with you for life! Show yourself off. Not your body or your earrings—your self. The inner light that makes you unique. Keep the outfit simple, and concentrate on being calm, centered, and present. The glow that will bathe you when you let yourself feel all the feelings of the day will be more gorgeous than any lace, crystal, satin, or hipster cummerbund.

What did you wear/are you planning to wear to your wedding?  Were you comfy?  Did you look fabulous?  Do you think it’s possible to achieve both in one outfit?  Please leave a note!

Want to read more of my book?  Jump on my mailing list to get a free sample chapter (and be the first to know when it goes on sale!)

Hark! A Through Line

My first ever published knitting pattern wasn’t really a pattern. There was no specified yarn, no gauge, no sizes. The idea wasn’t to look at my sample and perfectly recreate it. Instead, I offered a (bewildering, to most) set of formulas (formulae?) that, if you plugged in your own gauge (with your favorite yarn) and your own measurements, would produce a t-shirt that fit YOU. There’s no way knitty would publish it now (and I’m so grateful that they did, back in the Wild Wild West days of no set sizes!)

A few brave souls plugged in their data and… it worked! They added stripes, they added cables – one lady even told me that my formulas were helpful when she was learning to design her own sweater patterns. This made me very very happy. Here, if you’re on Ravelry, you can see everyone’s projects.

Now, skip ahead to a little over a year ago, when I posted my most outrageously successful* knitting patterns. They’re not really patterns, either. Again, you use your own yarn, your own gauge, your own head size (or that of someone you love), and voila! A hat that fits. I think I improved on the T-shirt concept in that there are no formulas to fill out (hence the “no math” thing).

People have done all sorts of interesting things with them – I mean check out the creativity! (again, those are Ravelry links) I get comments like “I love this pattern! It is a little free-wheeling, but a great way to use up yarn.” This makes me very very happy.

Soooo (getting to the point at last) if you’re wondering (as I do at times) how someone goes from writing about knitting and designing knitting patterns to writing a book about weddings – well, there is a through line!

The book works the same way as the not-really-patterns. There’s a lot of fill-in-the-blanks, a lot of “what would YOU like?” It’s not a step-by-step guide for how to replicate something I’ve already imagined, but an invitation to put your own mark on your creation.

It is my fervent hope that the weddings that spring from this book are as varied, as unique, and as charming as all those hats and t-shirts. That would make me very very happy. (And that’s what it’s all about, right?)

*  by “outrageously successful,” I mean triple-digit loves and double-digit projects on Ravelry!

Top-down No Math Hats on Ravelry

Calling All Bloggers!

Do you write a blog about weddings, or relationships, or style, or creativity, or—you know, life? Do you know someone who does?  Then I want to talk to you.

I’m setting up a blog tour to get the word out about my new book. I’m planning interviews, guest posts, freebie copies for contests…  I can’t wait to share Going Home Married with the world!

I’m suzyngonzalez@gmail.com, and I’d love to hear from you!

I wrote a book!

Here’s a little story about how it all happened.

I started way back in, oh, 2002 or so, not too long after my own wedding.  I was going gangbusters on it for a while.  My husband, especially, was excited about it—he said he had a good feeling about it, right from the start.  It got to be about book length, but after a while, I just… stopped.  I couldn’t find the throughline—I couldn’t figure out what the book was about.  My husband kept nudging me and nudging me, “Just finish the book!”  But I was well and truly stuck.

Life went on.  I got a deal for another book, we became parents…  Every so often, particularly when I’d get into my “what am I doing with my life?” lament, my husband would say “You know?  You should just finish that wedding book.” and I’d say, “I know, I know…”  I’d open up the file, fiddle with a few words, and then close it again.

Then, last year—I don’t know what changed, but I decided it was time.  I had a trip planned, and I came up with a cunning scheme:  I printed out the entire thing, tossed a red pen in my bag, and (this is the key) packed nothing else to read for the entire trip.

Away from home and family and distractions of all sorts, I read every word, red pen in hand.  I crossed out paragraphs, pages, and whole chapters.  I scribbled notes in the margin and wrote whole new chapters out in longhand.  By the end of the trip, I knew what the book was about.  It wasn’t about DIY, or saving money, or even creativity (though all those things are woven through it).

It is a book about making choices—meaningful, personal choices.  It’s about getting to the heart of what marriage means to you and building an event around that.  It’s about you—as a couplebeing true to yourselves.

Going Home Married: How to Plan a Meaningful Wedding Without Losing Your Mind is a workbook, a series of questions designed to help readers find their own meaning in the wedding ceremony and design an event around that. I aim to deflate stress by questioning the familiar wedding hoopla. Unlike most wedding books, which start with either the budget or the dress, I make the radical argument that the ceremony is the heart of a wedding, and that once you’re married, all the rest is icing on the cake (as it were). Going Home Married walks readers through the myriad choices they’ll encounter on the path to making their wedding their own.

The highest praise I could imagine came from a friend who was in the thick of wedding planning when she read a draft: “This book made me feel not-crazy.”

So: that’s my book, and I’m super-excited to get it out into the world.  What do you think?  I’d love to hear your reactions in the comments.

Care to read a chapter?  Just jump on my mailing list and I’ll send it over.

A Cure for the Januaries

For many years, I’ve suffered what my husband calls “the Januaries.”  I might as well call them what they are: Post-Christmas let-down.  See, I’m a bit of a Christmas nut, and once Christmas was over, I’d droop and mope around for a month or so, and eventually snap out of it as life went on.

Christmas 2010 was particularly stressful.  There had been maybe two weekends since September when everyone in my house was healthy at the same time.  Christmas eve found me hiding in the corner at my sister-in-law’s, avoiding hugging anyone because I had both pinkeye and laryngitis, and madly finishing the year’s Christmas ornaments (that year it was angora snowflakes wet-blocked to round plastic needle-point thingies) for the neices and nephews, which I hadn’t finished earlier because everyone was sick.

So as the 2011 Januaries loomed, my husband had a brilliant idea.  “Start Christmas now,” he said.  “That way you’ll be done in plenty of time and we can relax and have fun.”  Immediately my mind starting whirling.  If I had twelve whole months to make ornaments, I could break out the book I’d been eyeing for years: Angels: A Knitter’s Dozen.  It was a whole book of tiny lace angels, knitted on size 1 dpns (aka toothpicks) with crochet cotton, and starched.  They were gorgeous, but I was intimidated.  However, with a year stretching out before me, I decided I could handle it.

Handle it I did – and lo, the Januaries did not appear.  There was no Post-Christmas Letdown because Christmas was already in full swing!  I made seven of those angels, and yes, it took months (mostly because I knit a bunch of other stuff too, and because what REALLY intimidated me was the starching, which turned out to be not so bad.  Not as bad as the fiddly maddening assembly).   By late fall, I had:

And I had a cure for the Januaries!  Simple!  Just keep Christmas going!

I also decided that I would never again make those fiddly, sticky, starchy, adorable angels.  In fact, in a fit of pique over the endless fiddling, I designed and finished the (muuuuch simpler) 2012 ornaments, just because I could:

Which brings us to this January, this one that started today.  Christmas is over, and next year’s Christmas ornaments are done.  So what do I do now?

Never fear: I have a three-pronged plan of attack.

Prong one: The most beautiful socks in the world.  They have cables and stained-glass-window colors and they’re all mine!  They’re fiddly and time consuming and I love them.

Prong two: Fireside sweater.  My darling, brilliant husband bought me enough Malabrigo (Emerald Blue, if you’re wondering) to make a Fireside sweater (Ravelry link).  I just cast on a couple of days ago.

Prong three: I’m publishing a book in the next couple of months.  There, I said it.  Woo!

I know it’s de rigueur to talk about how excited you are about a new project, but it is true.  I am truly proud of this book and excited to see it go out in the world.  It’s not a knitting book – it’s a book about weddings, which I started, oh, 9 years ago.  You’ll be hearing (a lot) more about it shortly.

Socks, a sweater, and a book.  Sounds like a cure for the Januaries to me!