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Author Archives: jdtoinfinityandbeyond

About jdtoinfinityandbeyond

I'm on an adventure

The Power of Traveling Alone

Last weekend I traveled alone to Seattle for a conference. While I have flown to DC, Florida, and Wisconsin alone, there was always a friend waiting on the other end to visit and stay with. This time, I was mostly alone. And it was so empowering and confidence-building. Don’t get me wrong – I love traveling with David (home is wherever I am with him) – but this brought a different level of self awareness and push out of the comfort zone.

 

Upon arrival in Seattle, I got off the plane and navigated myself by train to my AirBnB – staying with Julian and his wife (who I dubbed as my Japanese parents). I headed to downtown to grab a shiny new green Pronto bikeshare bike.  And of course, the first street I went on was the biggest hill in the whole damn city – I could barely walk up it with the bike, nevermind ride. I rode around, went to a park and a bakery, then met up with a friend (ok, so I wasn’t completely alone) for happy hour.

 

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I had my revelation of empowerment on that first night. I was on my way back to my AirBnB, riding a bike down that giant ass hill, alone, at night, in a city I didn’t really know. The air rushed past my face as I sped down the hill and let out a “yeehaw!”. I didn’t feel anxious – I felt exhilarated. I had flown across the country and made my way around a new city. It felt good.

During the rest of the trip, I navigated bike share around the city, went out to lunch alone, and sat at a bar alone. I have always read things about how empowering it is (especially for a woman) to travel alone and be comfortable and confident in yourself to sit alone – and I was always like ‘yeah yeah ok, but I’d rather be with David instead’, not really comprehending the point. As I sat alone at a bar drinking a margarita snacking on tacos while drawing and watching gymnastics on the bar tv (I know, can you believe it?), I felt pretty proud of myself. Because, while I wished David was with me, I could do it on my own and be okay with it.

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Was I acutely aware of myself as a woman alone? Yes. Was I unsafe or reckless? Did I feel unsafe? The answer is mostly no to both of those. It was calculated risk. We were in Seattle for a day on our honeymoon, so it wasn’t completely unfamiliar. I had a detailed bike map of the city. And stayed on the roads with bike paths/lanes. I’m pretty city savvy and street smart. I had a formal conference and network of people. I knew people in the city, including some folks from Boston attending the conference.

I get the feeling my little trip is just the tip of the iceberg for what they they mean when they talk about women traveling solo, but I’ll take it. Has anyone had any similar experiences? I highly recommend for anyone to try traveling on your own. It doesn’t need to be a trip across the country. It might just be taking a trip on the train to a nearby city and spending the day there alone. You will learn and grow and become more comfortable with yourself.

 
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Posted by on February 23, 2015 in Lifestyle Design, Travel

 

Wedding Recap Part 3: Advice

This is the last entry in a 3 part series relating to weddings. The first was a recap of our wedding with pictures and memories; the second was information about vendors we used. This last entry is about wedding advice, answering the questions: what advice would I give someone who is (recently) engaged? What advice would I give to someone planning a wedding?

First, a word to everyone: don’t ask someone who has been engaged for less than a month when and where the wedding will be. Just congratulate them and be excited (maybe ask about the proposal) – and let them enjoy the excitement of being engaged. For those of you engaged – enjoy it and brush off the questions about the wedding. You will have plenty of time to plan the wedding – don’t feel pushed into planning it.

Starting off:

  1. Get the book A Practical Wedding and read it BEFORE you dive head long into crazy wedding planning. Seriously. Get it from the library even. Or tell me and I will order it for you on Amazon right now.  Both partners should read it. The wedding industry is completely insane and this book will help you to be conscious of avoiding falling into traps, or at least make you aware of the traps you might fall into (i.e caring about things you’ve never thought about – who cares what material the tablecloths are made of?). It’s not a guide about how to plan a wedding, but something we found really insightful and read multiple times during the course of our engagement.
  1. Like the book says, do a brainstorm of all the crazy possibilities of what you’d want for a wedding. Think of all the weddings you’ve been to and stuff you liked and didn’t like. Then, figure out what your non-negotiables/must haves are. Then talk to your families and find out what their expectations are/what they really want. Then come up with some compromises. Relatedly, think of what you care about the most and put the effort/money into making that awesome – and let other things go as acceptable but not perfect.
  1. Avoid the wedding-industrial-complex. This is all the bridal magazines and websites that have all the crap of what you “must do”, “must have” etc. There is an overwhelming amount of stuff online and in books. Find one or two you like and use those.

Watch this video. It is nearly 100% true and had us laughing hysterically. Watch it several times throughout the wedding planning process and you will see how true it rings (and when we found ourselves stressed and at each other, we would say “but the table runners need to match with the cumberbunds!!” to bring ourselves back).

  1. Include your partner in everything. It is for the both of you. At the same time, divide and conquer – like one person assigned to researching photographers while the other researches bartending services, then decide together. One person shouldn’t get stuck with everything.
  1. Plan your wedding date knowing that the 6ish weeks leading up to it will most likely be insanely busy and stressful (and if they aren’t, hooray for you!)
  1. Spreadsheets and listmaking are your friends to not get stressed out. Have a list that’s a month by month break down of what you should do when. We also had a shared Master Google spreadsheet (with about 14 tabs on it) that evolved over time.
  1. If an engagement photo shoot is possible, do it. It’s great to get to know your photographer (and they you) and helps you practice getting photographed. It also is like a rehearsal for the wedding and helps knock off some jitters and can be fun. Think of it less about the product you’ll get and more about the experience.

Mantra to repeat: “We will not remember what our wedding looked like. We will remember what it felt like.”

  1. It’s going to be more expensive than you thought – like 2-3 times more (even if you say “I just want something small/simple/not fancy” – see above video). It’s hard to compare across venues and vendors because some include everything and some include nothing. Just know it’s gonna cost more money than you thought possible.
  1. Don’t do any wedding planning or talking in the 45 minutes before you go to bed. It will disrupt your ability to sleep.
  1. Unless you want to spend your every waking moment (and some sleeping) between now and your wedding either doing wedding planning or worrying about wedding planning, try to book stuff that includes more than 1 thing/is a bunch of stuff tied together/is traditional. Our camp wedding was AMAZING and I don’t regret it AT ALL. If you asked me for advice in the months leading up to the wedding, I would have said don’t do it. It turned out perfect, but wasso muchwork (see blog 99 days before wedding).
  1. Along those same lines, DIY seems like a great idea (fun! creative! save money!) but it doesn’t really save money and creates more stress and requires so manydecisions. Pick one or two projects, and that’s it. And/or, farm out projects to people who want to help – and let go caring about it and just trust they’ll do something that works well enough.

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From the heart:

The engagement is not just about leaving enough time between getting engaged and the wedding to plan the wedding; it’s also about emotionally preparing for marriage and a huge life transition. Use it as processing time for the transition. Discuss important topics with your partner (self guided/with prompts or formal counseling). Know that it’s totally normal to feel a crazy range of emotions through this whole process that you would have never expected – from anxiety to fear to sadness to excitement. It’s definitely a transition time and you should take the time to embrace, acknowledge, and work through your emotions.

Relatedly, there will be all sorts of family stress (inter and intra) trying to manage everyone’s expectations and needs. Again, more than you would have ever thought. Take a deep breath and remember the cumberbunds.

Other resources:

 

And that’s it, I think. I’ll walk away from putting wedding things up here..and move on to something else. I started this website about quitting my job and lifestyle design, then it transitioned to a travel blog, then wedding focused. Now, it will probably just be a variety of ruminations.

 

 

 
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Posted by on February 19, 2015 in Marriage/wedding

 

Looking back, looking forward: Goals

At the end of every year, I review the goals I set for myself for that year; and in that process, I also set new goals for the upcoming year. These are not to be confused with “New Years Resolutions”, which everyone forgets about by February (I’ve written about this here).  These are SMART goals – specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and tangible.

I began setting yearly goals back in 2008, with that year being written on the back of an envelope and stuck on my bulletin board. It’s evolved now to a longer thinking process, spreadsheet, and regular check-ins. David (and Chris Guillebeau) got me thinking about and in the habit of setting goals. Why set goals? I have this fear that in life we often say “oh yeah, we should ______ sometime” but that ‘sometime’ just never happens because life is busy and we wake up 20 years from now and that opportunity passes us by. So each year, I intentionally think about, what is it I want to happen this year? What do I want to make sure I do this year? Then every month or two, I review the goals and make sure I am working toward them.

My goals are broken down into:
– Health & Fitness
– Creativity
– Finance
– Friends & Family
– Learning
– Outdoors & Travel
– Other
– Work
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2014 Goals Review

I’m not going to list out and review all 37 goals (which is way too many); I fully met about 15 of them, vaguely met about 8 of them, and totally missed 14 of them. Some good ones that I met were bike to Attleboro, hike 2 new mountain, spend time with my parents, and max out my Roth IRA.  I fell just short of reading 15 books for the year, and totally missed playing guitar 5 days in a row 2-3x. But, it was a busy (that whole wedding thing) and good year.

2015 Goals

This year also ended up with 37 items listed out! Again, too many, but some are small, simple things, and some will take a lot more work. This year I will finish the blanket I have been knitting for the last 9 years; I will write at least 10 blog entries (get ready!), get my wedding pictures printed, and visit a National Park. There’s more, but I will spare you the long list.

What about you? What are your goals for the year? Even though it’s late January, it’s not too late. I challenge you to think about what you’ve been meaning to do, write it down, hold yourself accountable, and make it happen!

 
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Posted by on January 26, 2015 in Lifestyle Design

 

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Wedding Recap Part 2: Vendors

This is Part 2 of a 3 part series recapping our wedding. The first entry was about all the awesome memories & moments. This second part is more practical – a list of our vendors/services so that when someone asks me, I can direct them here. The last part of the series will be general wedding advice and tips. And then I think I will be ready to walk away from writing about wedding stuff!

jenny+david-258Venue: Camp Wing in Duxbury, MA. Gorgeous summer camp with a lot of options for a whole weekend wedding. We loved it, but it definitely did not turn out to be any cheaper than having a wedding at a more traditional venue (and was a lot more work!).

Photographer: Sara Smile Photography We really liked her – she was friendly and fun and easy to work with. Prices were reasonable and lined up with industry cost. Our wedding is on her blog.

Food: KO Catering & Pies, supplied the appetizers, dinner, and brownie ice cream sundaes. Their food is amazing, incredibly friendly and helpful staff, and great prices compared to others. We can’t say enough about how awesome they were to work with, and the fresh, delicious food. One catch is that they don’t bring the silverware/plates/table clothes, so you have to rent those separately – but you get a discount through them. The ice cream was from Christina’s Homemade Icecream, based in Cambridge.

Linens, cups, dinnerware: We rented all this through Rentals Unlimited. Their website was kind’ve clunky and the ordering process a bit of a hassle, but it worked out fine. We used them because we got a discount through the caterer so I can’t say if their prices are good or bad.

Booze: We got two cases of wine on sale at the NH Liquor Store Outlet. The rest of our beer and wine was delivered by Gordon’s Fine Wines & Liquors. It wasn’t discounted and was a bit of a hassle to pick out, but it was worth it to pay to have someone bring it all to the venue and be able to return what we didn’t drink. We hired a bartending company, Professional Pour, to serve during the cocktail hour and reception. We were happy with their services and felt like they were the best of all the options we researched.

jenny+david-105Music:

For the ceremony: a friend played banjo while guests arrived. We had a friend with an iPod and speakers do the music for the processional and recessional.

For cocktail hour and the reception: we planned to do our own playlist on an iPod with the camp’s speakers until about 4 weeks before the wedding, when we realized we just had too many other things to worry about and this just wasn’t something we wanted to mess up. Hiring Ryan Kelley, ohryankelley@gmail.com was one of the best decisions we made with all of our wedding planning. He turned out to be fantastic – we got a lot of compliments on the music/dj. Prices line up with industry cost.

Tandem bike: We bought it off Craig’s List the weekend before the wedding!

Flowers: I didn’t order flowers until about a month before the wedding, from the florist closest to the venue, Consider the Lilies. We only got a bouquet for me and the best woman, corsages for the mothers and grandmother, a basket for the flowergirl, and boutonnieres for the dads, groom, best man, and ringbearer. We had a mason jar of black-eyed susan flowers at every table and these all came from my sister’s yard.

Videographer:  We didn’t have an official one. A few days before the wedding I asked a friend who does a lot of video work if he could set something up to film the ceremony. He set a tripod and microphone, and I’m SO thankful I asked him to do this. We didn’t want to hire a videographer for the whole day, but you might want to consider at least asking someone to film key moments that you’ll want to relive and see on film.

jenny+david-195Ceremony: We wrote our own ceremony. We looked at ceremonies of friends’ weddings, and heavily relied on The Wedding Ceremony Planner – a book that helps you with layout and ideas. We were able to use a lot from that and tailor it to make it our own. My brother-in-law said the ceremony; he is a teacher by trade but was able to get a One Day Designation through the state. We also had a friend be in charge of the ceremony – she ran the rehearsal and made sure everything ran smoothly on the day.

Decorations: We mostly borrowed decorations from people whose weddings we’ve gone to over the last few years (benefit of getting married when you’re “older”). We also picked up additional stuff on Amazon, Ikea, and Joanne’s Fabrics. We got flowers pots for the ceremony area from a garden shop.

Guestbook: I made it from a pre-made template on Shutterfly. It was pretty easy and not too costly. I used pictures of us together from throughout the years, with a lot of pictures from our engagement photo shoot.

jenny+david-264Wedding planner: We didn’t have one. But a few days before the wedding, we shared all of our crazy spreadsheets and notes with a friend made sure things ran smoothly on the day of the wedding and made decisions if vendors had questions. This was key – to have someone else know about everything and help keep things on track.

Clothing/bride: My dress was from David’s Bridal – it’s the one I said I wanted when I looked ahead of time online and the one I got. The shoes were also from David’s Bridal, and jewelry from Ten Thousand Villages.

Clothing/groom: His suit was custom made by Indochino. The shirt and tie were from Macy’s, and the shoe’s from Zappos.

Hair & make up: It was done by my awesome sister (who is a Mary Kay Consultant), just like when we were little girls J I didn’t want anything fancy, and we did a test run ahead of time. She is a Mary

Save-the-date: We did simple post card save-the-dates from a photo template through VistaPrint. They were cheap and mailed directly to our guests…but the website was painfully clunky and some of them never arrived to people.

Invitations: We used a template with Minted. We loved the design and simplicity (single card double sided + a postcard RSVP). They weren’t terribly expensive compared to the norm, and there are always coupon codes and discounts available (just search for them). Our invitations did get messed up and come in late (with big discount), so order early!

 

Phew – I can’t believe we pulled off all of this! I’m also happy to share spreadsheets with anyone trying to plan their own wedding!

 

 
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Posted by on January 19, 2015 in Marriage/wedding

 

Wedding Recap Part 1: Memories, Moments, and Feelings (and pictures)

This is a post by Jenny. 
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Our wedding was just over three months ago and I feel like I am still debriefing myself (clearly a sign of someone who was in AmeriCorps!). The wedding, and whole weekend, was nothing short of magic.  At the bottom of this entry you will find a link to the pictures from our photographer, with some favorites sprinkled in!

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David and I took some time and thought about the whole weekend and wrote down “Memories, Moments, and Feelings”. We often keep journals or superlatives while we travel, and we wanted to have everything from the weekend written down so we could remember and hold on to it.

jenny+david-177Here are some highlights:

 

  • Singing around the campfire on Friday night, with David and Chris somehow turning Santeria by Sublime into some kind of ballad
  • Doing archery on Saturday morning and looking around at our family and friends all there and being so happy to have everyone together and doing something fun. Alice & Amy win slow dances with Jenny by getting bulls eyes (though they never take up their prizes). Dan impressively shoots through an apple target on his first try.

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  • The whole wedding party walking together down the path in the woods toward the wedding ceremony. It felt perfect, fun, and exactly what we wanted. David and I were in the back holding hands, and all of us excitedly walking together before quieting down and getting in order for the ceremony.
  • For me (Jenny), walking in to the ceremony with my parents and immediately choking up, overcome with emotion. And my dad leaning over and saying “keep it together!”

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  • The entire ceremony was like we were floating – relaxed, excited, happy, in the moment, and emotional. We wrote it ourselves, but we forgot about some parts until they happened!
  • Riding away from the ceremony and seeing our dj and him saying “Oh hey guys! What are you doing?” “We just got married!!”. Then riding further into the woods and it being just the two of us, quiet, peaceful and beautiful.
  • Riding back into the cocktail hour and seeing so many people we knew were coming but we hadn’t seen yet and don’t see often (Dianne, Fish, Brian & Erin, Amanda..and many more!). It was overwhelming and exciting to see all our guests – all our friends and family, all there for us!

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  • Our first dance, to Our Song by Elton John, was probably the pinnacle of the magic. There we were, married, looking beautiful, dancing in a beautiful setting with glimmering lights to a beautiful song. While everyone was there and watching, we felt like it was just the two of us in our own magical world. It was so fun and perfect.
  • Dancing with our parents (with Dolores wanting to learn to do spins after watching us dance) and secretly transitioning into In Your Wildest Dreams by the Moody Blues, a song for which my dad and I used to watch the music video while playing cards when I was a kid.
  • The most epic “skanking” dance party! “Skanking” is a type of dance move, usually done to ska music – sort of like running man meets aerobics. We had all our family and friends doing this crazy high energy dance to Reel Big Fish’s Sell Out, and it was awesome.

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  • Starting off dessert with an unintentionally, perfectly timed song dedicated to David from me – Your Love is Better than Icecream (if you were there and had our brownie icecream sundaes, you know that’s a pretty bold statement!).
  • Getting sat down for our families to perform a special dance for us, The Wobble, which we at first thought was some sort of Bollywood dance. It was awesome.
  • The very last song of the night was Home, which is one of my favorite songs, and fit into a message from our ceremony – “home is wherever I’m with you”. The remaining people created a circle on the dance floor and David and I danced together, much like our first dance but with more energy and more playful. We high-fived every one in the circle and simply glowed in happiness. And, I did a cartwheel in the middle of the dance floor in my wedding dress.

jenny+david-64Here is a link to the pictures from our photographer. Enjoy!

And, thank you to everyone who came to the wedding. You truly made it magic and perfect!

 
9 Comments

Posted by on December 18, 2014 in Marriage/wedding

 

99 bottles of…

Today is exactly 99 days until our wedding (according to Bed, Bath, and Beyond anyways)!! A lot of people have been asking how wedding planning is going, so I thought I’d blog about it as a break from planning!

But first, let me share some really fun pictures, all courtesy of Sara Smile Photography (click the link to see her blog entry about us!).

 

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We adventured around downtown Boston a bit with our awesome photographer before making her pizza at our house.

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You can see all of the engagement photos here (look for the bonus “Pizza” section!)

So, wedding planning…this is what we have so far: date, location, caterer, dessert, booze, bartending, supply rental, wedding dress & shoes, best man/woman, flower girl/boy, wedding stage manager, photographer, wedding website, save the dates, registry, mini-moon, and honeymoon flights.

Wow, writing that list made me feel good!

Yesterday we went to do a site visit of the camp and it got me really excited (except for the part where I slipped and fell down the stairs – but good to get all that out now!). I forgot how beautiful it was there, as well as how big! We brought our moms with us, which was a relief to have other people see it and start thinking about all the things we need to think about and do! After we got home, I wrote a detailed list of all the things we need to do – it has now crested 60!! I’ve been grappling with the amount of tangible stuff we need to think about/get/bring – iron/ironing board, board games, center pieces, decorations, lights, bathroom kits, and who knows what else (hopefully my spreadsheets know?!).

Some of the “what we still need to do”: invitations, get officiant, get David’s clothes, Jenny’s jewelry/hair/make up, center pieces and decorations (a lot!), flowers, playlist, wedding rings, marriage license, design ceremony, write vows, cabin assignments, seating charts…ok, I take back the part about feeling good about what’s already done!

We’re definitely going to need to ask friends and family to help us…We just need to get organized to figured out what to ask for help with!

Lastly, the camp is going to be totally awesome. It’s not hotel accommodations, it’s better! It’s not really roughing it – the walls are sealed, there is heat, electricity, plumbing, etc. It’s going to be like a big sleepover with adults, or like being at college, but our family is there too!

Now, back to spreadsheets!

 

 
5 Comments

Posted by on June 5, 2014 in Marriage/wedding

 

What’s in a Name?

Exactly 6 months from today (basically, exactly to the hour that I’m writing this), my wedding will be coming to a close. It will have been a beautiful day full of emotions, fun, laughing, and special moments. But I’m not writing about my wedding right now. Instead, I’m writing about my name.

For some women, there isn’t a question of if they will change their name or not once they are married – it’s not a decision to be made but more of an obvious of course. For others, some of my friends included, it’s been a decision they’ve wrestled with, basically deciding to just not decide (aka do nothing, as changing your name can be quite a hassle). So, what about me? Will I change my name?

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose

By any other name would smell as sweet.” – Juliet

Well Juliet, I think there is a lot in a name. For the last 31 years of my life, I have been Jenny Duquette. I am Jenny Duquette. That is who I am, that is my identity, that is who my friends and family and colleagues know me as. My many nicknames come from my name – Dukey, Dukes, jDukes, Sweaty Duquettey, etc. Who is Jenny Marie Norcott? Who is Jenny Marie Duquette-Norcott? Who is Jenny Marie Duquette Norcott? Who is Jenny Duquette Norcott?

I don’t think I can completely drop the Duquette name. It is too much of who I am. Too much of my identity, my pride, my family, my history. I know my identity will change as a married person (a wife!), but I feel like losing my name would make me feel like there was someone that I was and I am no longer. On the flip side, David and I are going to become a family, a unit together. I like the idea of being “The Norcotts” – a family together. For many women, they are their married name identities longer than their maiden names, which seems crazy to me.

So, perhaps we could just become Jenny & David Norquette? I like the ring to that…..

 

 
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Posted by on March 14, 2014 in Marriage/wedding

 
 
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