Paintertaining

Like I said, I am not getting married, but I usually know other people who are getting married. This past week is an example of what I have been saying. I went to a bridal shower that was being given in one of those paint places that are popping up everywhere called Paintertaining 1Paintertaining 3 in Homewood, Illinois. I was too thrilled!

The bride to be looked beautiful in her white dress, veiled dress and she was an incredibly lovely hostess. It was beautiful to witness the generosity and bounty of everyone. The gifts ranged from tame (gift certificates to Bed, Bath and Beyond) to outrageous (edible massage oils), but the atmosphere of love and happiness ran high.

After a day at work, this was truly a delightful event. We ate spaghetti and blue colored lemonade with lemons slices within it. The cake was chocolate, one of my favorites. It made me smile. These women cared deeply about having a great time! We listened to the best of my high school music soundtrack of my life: Under a Cherry Moon by Prince and painted whatever we wanted. We were given a theme of a shoe. I took the idea a step further given that my first self marriage anniversary was rapidly approaching. I loved the MAC cosmetics Cinderella collection that was available earlier this year, so I decided upon a “My Glass Slipper” type of theme. I felt especially complimented when the bride complimented my painting and the theme I chose for it!

I had been to Brushes and Bottles, Bottles and Bottega, and Pinot’s Palatte, but it was really nice to know that paint shop had opened up nearby.

My Self Marriage Ceremony

“It is better to be by yourself than to be poorly accompanied.” –Judge Maria Lopez of The People’s Court

 

I married myself on Friday, July 4th, 2014, my 43rd birthday. It had been a long time coming. I married myself with one goal in mind: To expand upon and rethink, reconfigure, reevaluate, reinvent the concept of love and commitment. The first time I heard about the concept was reading the book, Succulent Wild Women by SARK. I loved the concept of it: Commit to yourself before committing to someone else. I first read about this concept when I was married, but it didn’t make complete sense to me until after I had gotten divorced.

I did an internet search about self marriage to obtain more information. I read article where the concept of self marriage is “narcissistic.” Again, I think the people who are writing these things have not had my life’s experiences. I personally found that as a direct result of my past experiences, self marriage was an act of radical self love, self care and self acceptance.

Within time, I had found I had achieved a state of pure unmitigated joy, but believe me when I tell you I wish I had known about the concept of self marriage sooner. No matter how challenging the past had been for me, I always knew that happiness was out there. I had to be patient and just keep looking until I found it. Instead of looking at what happened before, I have become more focused on the love I had in my life now: supportive family, friends, my artistry and a job that fulfills me.

This act of self marriage gave way to letting go of people, places and things that did not honor the very best of who I was. This was already happening, so it not an overnight process. But it is interesting to note the changes that took place after my self marriage ceremony: I left a job I held for five years and fell into the job I had been wanting for years. I participated in not one, but two art instillations within a year because part of my commitment to myself also included a reclaiming of my artistic life. Self marriage was one of the many building blocks of extreme self care I’d acquired within time. Eventually, though, what I realized was that my happiness, sadness, success or failure wasn’t dependent on any other human being. It meant that I could live the life I always wanted.

I am able to see other people who are married with children and I am sincerely happy for them and tell them so, but I am also happy for myself as well. My vows were actually the poem “Phenomenal Woman” by Maya Angelo. I made a vision board the night of Thursday, July 3, 2014 and placed a small part of the poem on the board. I also chose pictures and sayings, like High Spirits, your special day your special way, Your story from this point forward will be legendary, The Life You Want.”

Although I was married, I never had a marriage ceremony in my life. So having one when I married myself was especially important for me. Not to be materialistic, but people seem to want to know everything I did on this day, from choosing a dress, a ring and anything else, so here it is.

It took time to find a dress on discount. It was a white halter dress with gold swirls on sale and I loved walking away with a deal. I also found white shoes on discount.

The ring was an aquamarine stone with a gold setting, again on discount. The bouquet and cake were from Whole Foods. When I told the women there what I was doing, they had never heard of the ceremony such as a self marriage, but they were greatly interested and actually more than kind when making suggestions to make the day special for me. I went with a berry cake with white frosting and red letters. They showed me pictures of their wedding bouquets, as well as had me tell them what kinds of flowers I liked. I let them know I loved sunflowers. “You have to love yourself and know who you are and what it is you want first,” the saleswoman told me behind the counter when she saw my cake and flowers.

I was able to find an appropriate crown at Party City. They have an amazing medieval section! I found a gold plated crown with fake jewels. I also talked with people close to me about my ceremony. One of my family members said, “I can see it. Frankly people need to do this preferably in the ninth grade. Get clear on who you are, what you want and what your expectations are in a relationship.”

My writer friend was invaluable on the day of the ceremony. She took pictures and did my makeup. Personally, I felt she’d done a better job that the makeup artists at M.A.C. She played jazz love songs in the background like “At Last” by Etta James and “Nightingale” by Nora Jones. After she was finished with my makeup, I felt beautiful. I am the primordial caregiver. This is my profession, but another aspect of self marriage for me is learning what is healthy dependence and learning how to receive.

She said, “Actually, I think people need to do this after they are finished with college. Like if you are going to have a bridal registry, then have one. When you get your own place, you need toasters, cookware, Tupperware and bed comforters when you move out of those college dormitories or out of your parent’s house. These are things people need on their own, like well before marriage.”

But the only problem with waiting until after college is you might meet the person you think you should marry in college. That is what happened to me. Later, I progressed to the idea of not being actualized in a relationship, but being actualized by yourself. What a concept! But no one tells you exactly how that happens. They didn’t have that in a textbook. Sometimes doing things the way other people have presented it to you is the way to go until you have taken the time to know how to do things that are best for you. It might be challenging along the way, but still, settling shouldn’t be an option.

Choosing a locale was a challenge. My writing group has a lot of interesting outings. One of them was Medieval Times. I knew when I first saw the place, I wanted to be there for my self marriage ceremony. Medieval Times was a place that I felt was conducive to the creative imagination. I have always loved anything and everything medieval. I wanted the ceremony to be playful. I had a picture with the king when I walked in. He told me, “You look smashing!” I said, “Thank you!” The food was phenomenal along with the jousting. We had the yellow knight, who unfortunately lost the tournament.

Afterwards, children walked up to me to ask, “Are you a fairy princess?” I smiled and said, “No.” Then they asked, “Were you in the play?” I smiled and said no. It is difficult to describe the concept of self marriage to children. I felt like Carrie Bradshaw’s character in Sex and the City who tried to explain to the little girl she was reading Cinderella to that these are fairy tales, but you know what? Everyone has to come to their own conclusions.

So, instead I said, “It’s my birthday.” And it really was my birthday. That they understood. They looked at each other excitedly and said, “Yay! Oh happy birthday!” Description solved! I was knighted at the end of the night. I took a picture with one of the knights.

Again, it is not that I am against relationships, but I am against unhealthy ones. I feel there are decent men out there. I also enjoy sewing for other people and their weddings. But I also feel that if you have a healthy relationship with yourself, actually being in relationship doesn’t matter as much. I have also noticed that life can and will respond to how you feel about your circumstance. If you walk out as if there is lack in the world, the world would respond in kind, but if you walk out as if there is abundance, the world would respond abundantly. If I felt terrible about being single, I would be met with people who affirmed my belief. Because I embraced this fact, instead, I found the opposite.

A lot of people have asked me how I felt after the ceremony. Actually, I felt great, deeply appreciating my own self reliance. This is who I am. This is the person I was meant to be. It feel good not looking at a person, a place or a thing to validate my worth as a human being.  I listened to Pharrell’s CD on my way home, watching the fireworks in the air, enjoying the celebration of my independence.

Self Marriage 1

Here Comes The Bride!

Wedding 1 Wedding 2 Wedding 3 Wedding 4 Wedding 5 Wedding 6 Wedding 8 Wedding 9 Wedding 10 Weddings 6No, no silly! Not me! However, that doesn’t mean I do not know someone who is getting married at some point. Actually, this has taken place during the vast majority of my life. There has been media coverage about African Americans not getting married. There is even a book out there called Is Marriage For White People? By Ralph Richard Banks. However, I usually think, “Whoever these people are, they have not been to my house and they have not gone wedding fabric shopping with me.”

If they did, they would find me usually making things for other people to get married. My mother and I have done this for years: veils, purses, etc. People know they can go to David’s Bridal and House of Brides for their special day, but for some reason, people love having something hand made for their special day. We have sewn for a couple who celebrate their 65th wedding anniversary. They renewed their vows. The husband was 87. The wife was 84. I felt their union was a blessing. We have also sewn for young, up and coming couples.

Sewing for a wedding usually means a pilgrimage to Vogue Fabrics in Evanston. We have to get the good stuff for a sewing endeavor like this. Most people who work with textiles know this. There are people here from all over. This fabric store has a long history with my family. I still own the quilts my great grandmother pieced together using their remnants. The remnants department is also a good place to find fabric for those wedding quilts, like charm quilts and double wedding ring quilts to give as presents.

Much like any endeavor in life, especially marriage, the process of sewing for a wedding is an exploration into the unknown. What will we find on sale? What will it look like once it is done? Will they like it? Ever since I was a little girl, I always felt the prettiest part of Vogue’s Fabric Store was in the wedding section: rhinestone notions, tiaras, veils, satin, lace, pearl embellishments.

Romances are some of my favorite novels, but books about manifestation have taken over my precious bookshelf space. Although I have used these books to manifest other things in my life, two of my favorite books on manifestation are actually for manifesting a mate: Calling in the One by Kathryn Woodward Thomas and From Your Vision Board to Your Bedroom: Using The Law of Attraction to Find True Love by Sue Vittner.

For me, manifestation and sewing for a wedding are creative processes like any other. And I love creativity. It helped that love songs like “Vision of Love” by Mariah Carey and “Let’s Stay Together” by Tina Turner played in the background as we shopped.  Playing love songs during the process of sewing can inspire as well. Beverages like Zhena’s Gypsy Love Tea, eating chocolate, incense, candles and watching romantic comedies are other wonderful ways of getting into the spirit of things. Needless to say, one of my favorite romantic comedies is The Wedding Planner with Matthew McConaughey and Jennifer Lopez.

Yes, I am a feminist for obvious reasons and a humanist overall. I am divorced. I volunteer at my local domestic violence shelter. I have not dated in nearly 10 years. Still, there is an erroneous assumption that because of this, I might be against the institution of marriage, men and hate life in general. Not so. I believe in love and marriage. I am happy for people who find love and feel that love strongly enough to marry and share in life’s rewards and challenges. I believe that everyone, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation and/or religion deserves happily ever after. I also believe that there are decent men out there. But moreover, I also know that divine timing for this type of milestone is everything. In the meantime, though, making my life as whole as it can be is the best gift I can give myself and others. After that, I completely get into sewing for weddings. I love the idea of a big party, a white dress, and flowers.