Pressing pause on wedding planning

The beginning was easy: Book the venue, pick the attendants and have an engagement party. But after the engagement party, my desire to do anything wedding-related seemed to disappear. I didn’t understand. With a 15-month long engagement, how could I already feel burned out? Then Lilia and Olivia of Wedwell reached out and introduced me to their Bridal Wellness Guide.

Bridal Wellness Guide

The Bridal Wellness Guide from the ladies at Wedwell

One paragraph in and I was nodding my head and smiling with relief. Lilia recently got married and Olivia, her best friend, was a bridesmaid. The beautiful, 26-page guide was relatable, easy to digest and so helpful. They understood what I was going through! They knew what I needed!

Well Wed at Wedlocks

Me and Olivia of Wedwell at the Wedlocks bridal beauty event

Unlike most bride guides, this one isn’t about deadlines, checklists, budgets and family politics. This is about YOU. What a sigh of relief to have someone give you permission to prioritize your own wellbeing during the engagement and wedding planning process.

The guide covers protecting your energy, creating rituals, building confidence, meditation, keeping your perspective and more. I love that in incorporates mental, emotional and physical exercises.

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Wedwell takes a different approach to wedding-prep

By approaching wedding prep from the inside out, the tips, instructions and worksheets in the guide help me feel more balanced, calm and confident. With the overwhelm behind me, I made a catering appointment for us to taste some food we’ll hopefully serve at the wedding.

The Wedwell Bridal Wellness Guide is available for download now and would be a great gift to a bride you know — or to yourself if you are a bride. It’s a breath of fresh air and something you won’t find in the magazines. The ladies at Wedwell gave a special promo code to share with you: Use code “Empowered” to save 15% on the guide.

Thank you Lilia and Olivia!

-Winters

 


*Note: This post contains affiliate links which allow me to earn a small commission if you click through and decide you want in on this goodness. I promise to always be honest and only share the good.

When divorce was the right thing to do

This is a different kind of post and I debated whether or not to share it. It’s a letter I wrote yesterday to my 24-year-old self who five years ago to the day was about to end her marriage and turn her world upside down. She didn’t have a clue what was about to happen and what she would go through. I want her to know it will be painful but it will be worth it. It will be the right thing. If someone else is going through this, or is about to go through this, I want them to know too.

There are no pictures because this isn’t about my life then. It’s about my life now and paying tribute to my journey.


Hi honey,

Take a few deep breaths. Everything will be OK. All flowers must grow through dirt, right? Trust yourself on this.

When you get home from work and sit Him down on the loveseat, don’t talk yourself out of it. Don’t try to convince yourself again that things are fine and you’re just getting in your head too much.

Tell Him what is going on inside you. Tell Him the thing you spoke aloud for the first time last weekend when you were out at the bar with one of your closest friends and couldn’t hold it in any longer. Be honest, you should have had this conversation a long time ago before that day you woke up, popped a Xanax, and went through the motions of a wedding day. Even then, you knew it wasn’t right.

Well, this is your chance to make it right. This is your chance to set each other free.

Now, listen to me: You will never forget how His face crumbles when you say, “I don’t think I want to be married anymore.” Your heart will continue to hurt, even five years later, when you recall how He cried and asked, “You don’t want to be married anymore? You don’t want to build our life together? You don’t want to have babies with me?” You will be numb to His pain. You will be numb to your own pain. You will be numb.

Then, without even realizing it, you will slowly but surely lose your mind. You will spin wildly out of control in the most euphoric way and then you will wake up to utter devastation when you realize what you’ve done. You’ll feel guilt, shame and pain like you have never known. You will feel betrayed by people you consider family and friends who don’t understand why you are doing this and think you are wrong. You’ll be accused of sleeping with your boss to further your career and they’ll call you a cheater, toxic, bitch. He will tell you to, “eat shit and die.” Know that you are none of those things and be strong in your own conviction. This is what needs to be done.

Take another deep breath, honey, cause you haven’t thought about this next part yet. You’re going to lose your baby boy. The funny looking little dog you brought home after his first mom passed away will not get to stay with you. The pup that was your good morning snuggle buddy and your companion during crime scene stakeouts will not be there for you any longer. For the rest of your life, you will pathetically ask mutual friends if he is still alive and if they’ve seen any recent pictures of him. You will be crushed if the answer is, “no.” You’ll wonder if he is happy and if he remembers you. Listen to Scott and take one last photo with your beloved boy. Even more – sneak back in the apartment while He is out at work and get in some final snuggles and kisses before he is gone forever.

In three short weeks they will be gone forever. But somehow they’ll still be everywhere all the time. You’re going to listen to a lot of Kate Nash and rapidly transition between dancing in the kitchen and crying on the bedroom floor. You will simultaneously withdraw from some relationships while constantly seeking out connection from others. You’ll want to be alone in despair and you’ll want to never be left alone to feel what you’ve done. Do not hide during this time. You need to own this. You need to be honest about this. And you need help with this.

Jon is going to tell you that divorce is like a death in the family. He is right. When you begin to feel that – to feel that your family is dead – it will be compounded by guilt knowing you are the reason it died. It will take you four full years to forgive yourself and be absolved of that guilt. Courtney will tell you, “There are no rules for how you get through this.” That will help you feel OK even as your entire life seems slip through your fingers like sand.

Embrace the chaos. It is taking you somewhere better. Know that despite the insanity of losing what you thought was everything in life on purpose, you will discover that you have the power to cultivate your own style of life and you can slowly, painfully, chip away at everything that isn’t you until you’ve revealed who you were meant to be.

You were not meant to be His, honey. You were meant to be yours.

Dear 24-year-old me, don’t ever forget that.

Sending you so much compassion and love and understanding,

-29-year-old me

What I learned as a speaker at Style Summit

There are only two things I would change about this month’s Style Summit at W Bellevue: First, I would not lose my voice, and second, it would last at least two days. That’s how much value I got out of the Sunday event bringing together women (and a few men) from the blogging, creative, fashion and entrepreneurial spaces in Seattle. And I have to share a taste of it with you.

Fashion essentials panel

Photo by Vivian Hsu Photography

The summit had 150 people in attendance and I was there because Sydney Mintle, the powerhouse behind Gossip & Glamour, invited me to speak on the “Fashion Essentials” panel. Since I established the influencer marketing program at my company and have years of experience with events, outreach and cultivating relationships, I shared some inside knowledge on what brands are looking for when it comes to collaborating with influencers. While I got great feedback from what I shared on the panel, I want to talk about what I learned from the other incredible women speaking at the event.

Sydney

Photo by Vivian Hsu Photography

Sydney, pictured above, hosted the summit as part of the #WhatSheSaid series with W Hotels. If anyone understands the importance of listening to female voices and empowering them, it’s her. We first met years ago when I first started blogging (different blog, different lifetime). I’m always in awe at how she can connect people and activate a room for a common purpose. Participating in this event with Sydney taught me the importance of putting myself out there to help others and to also be willing to listen to the help others can offer me.

Panel 2

Photo by Vivian Hsu Photography

Let me introduce you to Brittany Hicks (pictured above). Not only is she a buyer at Amazon Fashion (talk about #careergoals) but she is also passionate about bringing more women into the tech/fashion space. The founder of Girls in Fashion and Tech, Brittany understands the business of fashion as much as she understands the human element of it. Learning about the stories (aka the women) behind the intersection of tech and fashion is key to increasing the representation of women in companies that sell goods and services to the largest purchasing demographic– women. She made a great point about how few women are in senior leadership positions in the very businesses that constantly try to market to and optimize for women consumers. Check out her website and you’ll likely find yourself nodding in agreement with her.

Steve Madden

Photo by Vivian Hsu Photography

During our breakout sessions, we were connected with other people in our niche (mine was e-commerce) and talk about our experiences, share ideas and brainstorm solutions to any problems. Through that session, I learned from Bhawna Gupta, the founder of Tema Athletics, that pop-ups aren’t necessarily the optimal way for online brands to increase sales (though that’s actually how I first met her). The group came together with some great ideas on how we each could leverage different channels to reach our goals. I can’t wait to see some of them go into action!

Kacy Om

Photo by Vivian Hsu Photography

There were also, of course, some fun brand activations including special access to the new handbag line by Kacy Yom, the spring shoe collection from Steve Madden and some delicious and healthy drinks from Pressed Juicery.

Pressed

Photo by Vivian Hsu Photography

The good news for those of you who couldn’t attend Style Summit is Sydney posted some incredible recap content on the Gossip & Glamour blog. There’s even a FB live video where you can hear me use my poor little voice to talk about brand communications marketing and the influencer space — until the recording cuts off suddenly cause the phone dies. Sometimes, the universe tells you to stop talking. When I did, I could feel the inspiration and fulfillment of the day really sink in. I walked away from the event full of ideas and next steps and insight I knew I could build on for work and for Call Me Winters. Everyone else I asked about Style Summit said the same.

So, who wants to build it out to two days for next year?

-Winters

How to get the perfect engagement photos

If there’s anything I know for sure about Mason and I, it’s that our relationship is a little unorthodox and always has been. (You know the story of how we met and how we started dating) We do things different. We just are different.

Home engagement session

Photo by Kailee Elizabeth Photography

So, when it was time to think about engagement photos I couldn’t help but feel turned off by the inspiration I saw on Pinterest. Don’t get me wrong — I think a bride-to-be standing in field in flowy dress looking longingly into the sunset while clasping hands strategically (to show off the bling) with their betrothed at her side is totally beautiful and good. And the cradling of each others faces and gazing into each others eyes? Precious. But not us.  You want to make us feel awkward? Ask us to strike a polished pose and see us turn into a couple of jokesters or two deer-in-headlights.

Home engagement session 2

Photo by Kailee Elizabeth Photography

I met Kailee Powers through an awesome group of Seattle women who are passionate about creating beautiful content, sharing stories, building each other up, and collaborating over competing always. She expressed interest in doing a couple photoshoot that wasn’t the standard — something in their home, showing more candid moments and the things that make the relationship special. You better believe I DM’d her right away! We set a date and from the minute she walked through the door I knew we were going to have an absolute blast. She just got it. She got us.

Home engagement session 3

Photo by Kailee Elizabeth Photography

She caught the little things: How I laugh with my mouth wide open and he envelopes me with an arm around my shoulders. The peach crate of records and the bottles of craft whiskey. The “Love You More” pillow and the mugs that have stories behind them. We recounted how we met, how we started dating, how he proposed, how he loves my quirks and I can’t get enough of his laugh.

Home engagement session 4

Photo by Kailee Elizabeth Photography

It was so natural. One of my favorite things about my relationship with Mason is how thoughtful yet natural and effortless it is. We both put a lot of thought into if we should date, if we should move in together, if we should get engaged, not to mention the day-to-day thoughts required to nurture a relationship. It doesn’t feel like a chore, though. It just flows. When we chose our wedding venue, Westland Distillery, it was serendipitous to see the motto: Thoughtfully Made. That is us.

Home engagement session 5

Photo by Kailee Elizabeth Photography

Kailee took so many amazing pictures and it never felt forced or awkward or disingenuous. We’re endlessly grateful to her for capturing our engagement in a way that also captured who we are as a couple.

Home engagement session 6

Photo by Kailee Elizabeth Photography

To the soon-to-be-wed, here are the tips I have to share so you can also get engagement photos you love:

  1. Look at the photographer’s style and see if it matches your own. Then, talk to them about how they like to shoot and what inspires them.
  2. Make sure your partner shares your vision and work together to find little details that show the intimate side of your relationship. Ritual Sunday morning pancakes? A shared love of vintage vinyl?
  3. Don’t be too matchy-matchy but keep it comfy and simple. We went with basics in fairly neutral tones and it worked perfectly without us even comparing outfits beforehand.
  4. Shoot in a location you’re familiar with so you don’t feel uncomfortable or out-of-place. Maybe your favorite happy hour spot or go-to neighborhood park.
  5. Relax into each other and let your energies flow. Make each other laugh. Have normal conversation. Do that thing he can’t stand. Do the thing that makes her crack up. Be yourselves and don’t worry about what it might look like on camera.
Home engagement session 7

Photo by Kailee Elizabeth Photography

Home engagement session 8

Photo by Kailee Elizabeth Photography

Home engagement session 9

Photo by Kailee Elizabeth Photography

Honestly, I can’t pick a favorite and I think that’s pretty great. Do you have tips on engagement photos? Drop them below and let’s pass it on.

Happy #WeddingWednesday,

-Winters

I quit the gym for my wedding

A few weeks ago, Mason and I sat down and created a preliminary budget for our wedding. We had an aggressive savings goal to work toward and we agreed we weren’t going to have a huge, fancy, expensive wedding. An hour later, we realized a wedding doesn’t have to be huge or fancy to be expensive.

According to The Knot, the average couple spent more than $33,000 on their wedding in 2017. It sounds insane, but it’s normal. Actually, it might even be on the low-end of what it costs to have a wedding in Seattle. We cut everything we felt wasn’t essential, but there remained a sizeable gap between our savings goal and the estimated cost of our March 2019 wedding.

So, sacrifices were made. And against the advice of every bridal article ever written, I canceled my gym membership at Orange Theory. Savings over sweating.

My new fitness plan is to go on power walks with my coworkers during lunch as much as possible given Seattle’s wet weather. Also, scoping out new fitness studios that are offering introductory classes or specials, finding free community fitness classes, and opting for jogs around Green Lake more than boozy brunches (RIP). I also joined Beachbody on Demand because it’s low-cost, mobile, and has a lot of variety in the programs offered, which should help me avoid boredom.

So far, I’m doing OK with this new plan. The motivation to get up and GO is lacking (I’m currently sitting on the couch rather than doing day three of PiYo) but I’m determined to find the self-discipline to make fitness a priority. If you have creative ideas on how I can pull this off, I’m all ears!

-Winters

The Seattle blogger event you must attend

Face it: There is no shortage of bloggers or social media influencers and brands are catching on. With a saturated market, ever-changing algorithms, and fickle followers, it’s hard to know how to stand out and grow your personal brand.

There are dozens of blogger workshops, seminars, and conferences promising to help you get to the next level and be a social media success. But in my experience, you usually walk away with a nice bag of swag but no idea what tactics to implement to reach your goal. Enter Style Summit.

GameOver-StyleSummitGraphic

In its third year, Style Summit is the passion project of Gossip and Glamour founder Sydney Mintle, and it’s where bloggers go to grow. Though I didn’t attend the last two years, I paid attention to who did and I saw how they elevated their content, strategy, and branding with great results. This year, as Style Summit partners with W Bellevue and the “What She Said” series, I’m thrilled to attend — not just as a blogger but as a panelist representing the brand where I work as a PR/Influencer Manager.

My panel will discuss style blogging in relation to digital assets, affiliate marketing, social media strategy, and how to establish solid, ongoing brand collaborations. Other panels include tips from top bloggers on how they made it to the 50k+ Club and insights into the rapidly-changing landscape of retail. On top of all this goodness there is also a keynote, break-out sessions, brand activations, and an after party.

style summit

The day kicks off at 10 a.m. on Sunday, March 11, at W Bellevue, and wraps up with a 4 p.m. after party at Civility and Unrest. There are still tickets left, but I’m sure the event will sell out in the next two weeks so get on it! You can get tickets here and use code BLUENILE to save $50.

See you at Style Summit!

-Winters

 

That Awkward Moment I Asked Him To Be My Boyfriend

So, if you read my last Wedding Wednesday post you might recall when I asked Mason to be my boyfriend he said no. But this is a wedding post, so obviously we’re engaged now and I did manage to convince him to be my boyfriend, right? Read on, my friends.

Christmas 2014

While home for Christmas, we texted almost non-stop. We said a lot of cute, corny things to each other like this:

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And yes, he was in my phone as “JC” because I didn’t want anyone at work to know I was seeing him yet. What if I turned out to be wrong and there wasn’t actually anything special between us and we went our own ways after his internship ended?

Yeah, right.

My dad noticed how much I was texting while I was home for Christmas and I saw him glance over at me more than once with that tiny worry line forming on his forehead. Here’s the thing: My dad is the one who I ran to at 17 crying when my high school boyfriend told me he thought we should “take a break.” My dad is the one who comforted me at 19 when my college boyfriend took a similar route. My dad is the one who took me to coffee early in the morning when I was a 23-year-old crying wreck, reeling from an awful experience with my then-fiancé and his family. And my dad was the one who managed to get me in the car for a long drive to talk after I went through with that marriage anyway and then saw it come to a sudden end.

Basically, my dad had reason to worry about what I might be putting myself through next.

“Don’t worry, Dad,” I still remember the exact words. “This is a good one.”

New Years Eve 2014

After barely eating for four days, I could finally fit into the tiny pink and silver dress I bought from Forever 21 for my first public outing with Mason. We took some tequila shots and went to a huge New Years Eve party in the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle.

New Years

Our first photo together, New Year’s Eve 2014.

It was a bizarre night. First of all, my ex-boyfriend was there and I had a sudden urge to go up to him and tell him I didn’t like the giant bushy beard he had grown since we broke up over six months before. Yes, it was petty. Yes, I did that. Second, one of our coworkers was there — one who sometimes acted as Mason’s supervisor. Mason and I spent the night strategically dancing and talking and hanging out wherever my ex and his sometimes-supervisor weren’t.

Then, just after the midnight kiss, overcome with happiness and drunk on love (*cough* tequila *cough*), I looked up at Mason and said, “You should be my boyfriend. Do you want to be my boyfriend?”

“No,” he said with obvious hesitation. “Let’s talk about it tomorrow.”

CRUSHED. But I played it off, you guys. I was totally the chill, fun, cool girl who didn’t really care and definitely was not looking to fall in love and marry him someday and, who knows, maybe even have his babies.

New Years Day 2015

When I saw him the next day, I continued to play it off.

“Remember last night when I told you that you should be my boyfriend?” I said with a laugh. So chill, you guys. I’m a cool girl.

“Yes,” he said, seriously. “I said we should talk about it tomorrow.”

“Yeah…”

“Well, it’s tomorrow. Do you want to talk about it?” he asked.

“Okay.” I was so nervous.

He looked at me and said, “Do you want to be my girlfriend?”

I laughed at him, so confused. I asked, why did he say no last night?

“I didn’t think it was a decision we should make after that much tequila,” he answered.

I was impressed. This younger man who came out of nowhere while simultaneously living a life very connected to mine was more thoughtful, deliberate and intentional than I could have imagined. He showed he was able to provide a safety buffer around my impulsiveness without smothering me. He was a good one. And now he was my boyfriend.

Best of all, now he is my fiancé.

Engaged

Engaged 10/25/17 – Brooklyn, NY

 

-Winters

DIY Thursday: Background checks

If I learned anything from my years as a crime and courts reporter, it’s that there are a lot of people out there who could hurt you. Not just “hurt” as in breaking your heart — “hurt” as in breaking your arm, leg, face, life, etc.

Yikes.

A lot of people don’t know this, but there are thousands of public records online that can help you determine if you want to open your heart and life to somebody before it’s too late and you’ve got the feels. Learning how to look up someone’s criminal record started off as a way to help me do my job as a reporter but turned into a great way to help me (and others) dodge some seedy dates.

Note: Some may view this as a violation of privacy or ruining the mystery of getting to know somebody. If that is your view, this post isn’t for you and that’s OK.

Also: *trigger warning* rape, murder, violence.

So, how does it work? First off, its important for me to state I can only speak to Washington State records as that is where I have the most experience. I’d assume other states (hopefully) operate similarly. Please feel free to ask questions in the comments below or shoot me an email if you want any guidance. I’m a big proponent of empowering people to keep themselves safe.

The More You Know — right? (please tell me someone got that reference…)

Step One: Do a google search. Seriously. First name, last name, city or state of residence. This works even better if you have a middle initial. Add things like “jail roster” or “suspect” to pull up potential news articles.

Next: Plug their name into the Washington Courts database to see if there is a list of cases filed by/against them. Again, this is better if you have a middle initial. Below is a screengrab of someone I used to report about frequently at my second newspaper gig.

Screen Shot 2018-02-01 at 6.50.44 AM

In the example above, I erased the person’s name but you can see they are listed as the defendant in more than 20 cases in various district courts. District court is where small claims, traffic tickets, misdemeanors, and other relatively minor cases are filed. When you’re the defendant, it means something has been filed against you. Some notes on the case numbers:

  • PCR = Port Angeles Criminal case
  • CCR = County Criminal case
  • PIN = Port Angeles Infraction (non-criminal) case

This is standard for the most part across cities and counties. If there’s a “C” in there it’s a criminal case and if it’s an “IN” or “I” it’s a non-criminal infraction such as a speeding ticket.

Most district court records are not viewable online and you have to go to the court office to see them. So, take a look at the list above and decide for yourself if you want to invite this person into your life or go into the office and read up, or pass.

What about Superior Court? I’m glad you asked! Superior Court is where serious criminal cases are filed and also is the venue in some jurisdictions for restraining orders, family court, and larger lawsuits.

superior court example

In this example, you’ll see this person is the defendant in case 09-1-00904-3. Dissecting the case number tells me this case was filed in 2009 (hence the 09) and is a felony criminal case (the 1). This person is also the respondent in a civil/restraining order case (that’s what 2 means) and the petitioner in a family court case (3 indicates family court like custody, child support, divorce). Respondent means someone filed against you and petitioner means you were the one to file against someone else.

Often, you can click into the person’s name or “Available” to get a more detailed look at the case. See below.

detail

These are the details in one of the Superior Court cases involving the person above. You can see the prosecutor filed a motion for arrest and determination of probable cause, which means, “We think this person did this thing based on this evidence and should be arrested and stand trial for it.” This is usually a combination of police reports, witness accounts, and other details about the incident in question. A judge must agree that there is enough evidence to establish this person probably did this thing and sign the order before the person can be arrested and charged. In this case, the person was arrested, charged with third-degree rape, and given specific conditions of release to follow if they were bailed out of jail. Sometimes that means turning in your guns, abstaining from alcohol, or promising to stay in the county/state and not flee. Also, the victim in this case was given a protection order against this person. This generally means no contact — not even through a friend of a friend — and you must stay the hell away.

But what if I can’t dig in this far to see the records? There’s more! Try searching the Washington State Digital Archives. You can find birth records, death records, divorce records, and court records here.

sbasic search

While not all counties have records available online, Snohomish County does. For this example, I looked up the name of a person facing murder charges in the Washington State Courts database and plugged the case number in here. The archive pulls up a list of documents filed in a case and gives you the option to preview or pay to view the documents.

snohomish county

Other ways to search: Go to your county court website and look for “court records” or “clerk of the court.” Sometimes you can access the database online and sometimes you have to request access to records — especially if they are sensitive in nature such as sexual assault protection orders.

Hopefully this is useful for you all. I know it is useful for me.

-Winters

An accidental love

It was never going to happen. For the first time in my life I was single and happy. Three months free of a tumultuous relationship, I reached a point where not even the worst of Tinder dates could get me down — and trust me, I have some stories you wouldn’t believe. Dating was actually really fun and I was determined not to allow myself to get into another committed relationship until I saw serious signs (and no red flags) that it would be worth all the energy, work, and emotion that goes into those. My friends were incredible, I was getting a promotion at work, and I loved my new apartment and roommates. I didn’t need a man.

Summer fun

The month we met I was loving my single life.

September 2014

I saw him across the office, wearing a pale yellow dress shirt with skinny jeans and a head full of hair that would make a newscaster jealous. Who was THAT? I started pinging coworkers on IM, trying to get some information about the new guy.

Turns out, he was the new intern. And even though I was on a different team, I had to train him because the person on his team that was supposed to do it was out of town. Sitting across from him in a small conference room, I dutifully stuck to the topic at hand and maintained a very professional demeanor even though inside my head were thoughts like:

  1. Whoa. His eyes. Are they green or gold?
  2. He’s so good looking. Is he Italian? Greek? (Later I looked up his last name and realized he was Chinese)
  3. This is Never. Going. To. Happen.
  4. Nope.
  5. He’s a baby.
  6. He’s an intern.
  7. This is Never. Going. To. Happen.
Mason

“The Intern”

October 2014

My dating life continued outside of work. But at work I learned more about him just by our proximity (my desk was next to “intern row”) and working on projects that incorporated his team. I learned his name was Mason Cheung (Chinese), he went to the same university as I did (though he was three grades behind me), graduated with the same major (journalism FTW), also had a seasonal family name (his Summers to my Winters), the same name convention for our Gmail addresses, and one day we both showed up wearing Richard Sherman Seahawks jerseys.

But, whatever. It was Never. Going. To. Happen. And I was seeing other people. And so was he. So, whatever.

November 2014

Then I started feeling jealous when other coworkers got to work on projects with him. His laugh made me light up even when I didn’t hear the joke. I tried to talk to him about beer at an office baby shower out of sheer desperation. (Note: I didn’t know anything about beer except that Rainier was cheap and IPAs were “hoppy.”)

December 2014

As the year came to an end, my dating life was pretty “meh.” Nothing was going anywhere, which was fine, and I was coming to realize the only person I really gave a damn about wasn’t right for me and we both knew it. It was time to move on.

I took my best friend to my company holiday party and she was an incredible date. Beautiful, charming, smart, and wicked funny. She met many of my coworkers, including a handsome VP and, yes, the handsome intern.

Maybe it was the months of staying away despite my burning curiosity or the confidence I’d found as a strong single woman. Or maybe it was the bottomless champagne. It’s not blame I’m looking for — it’s credit.

I grabbed his hand and encouraged him on to the dance floor with the rest of our coworkers. After the party, we sat next to each other at the karaoke bar and I tried to casually ask if he was seeing anyone. Then we talked about getting pizza.

There was a sense the following week that if this was going to be a thing, it was going to be A THING. I told my friends I had a crush on a guy from work — they thought it was the VP and teased me when I said it was actually “the intern.” Still determined that it was never. going. to. happen. I decided to cut out the flirtation, be extra-professional, and talk to him about his internship and career aspirations at coffee one morning. If I couldn’t date him maybe I could mentor him?

Instead, I became completely intrigued by him. We had so much in common. He was casual and cool and his laugh contained all the joy in the world. A few days later, he asked me if I wanted to get a drink after work. I was supposed to go on a date with this guy (we’ll call him Tweedle Dum) who pursued me for six months but always, without fail, would flake out on our plans to go on a date. So, I told Mason that, yes, I’d get a drink with him. And I waited for Tweedle Dum to flake out on our date, even though he made reservations at this nice Italian restaurant and swore up and down it was going to happen. It never did.

Actually, in the most amazing twist of fate, I ran into Tweedle Dum on the sidewalk in downtown Seattle mere hours after he texted me that he had to cancel our plans because of blah, blah, blah. Literally, my face running into his chest as he came around a corner on Third and Pine. I laughed as he blushed and when he began to stammer an apology for canceling our date I cut him off — “It’s ok, I’m actually on my way to a different date right now.”

I skipped down the sidewalks, giddy with victory, and met Mason at Local 360 in Belltown. As I drank up every word he said,  it dawned on me that this guy — with his green eyes and his yellow shirt — was going to rock my world.

When he kissed me goodbye at the bus stop, I knew. This. Was. Going. To. Happen.

New Years

Our first photo together, New Year’s Eve 2014, when I asked him to be my boyfriend and he said no. We’ll get to that story another time.

Okay, Ladies

I’m so excited to start off the new year by inviting you to celebrate the launch of a new, female-focused business support group in Seattle next week. Business Babes Collective is a platform connecting and inspiring women in select U.S. and Canadian cities through workshops, events, and retreats where they can learn, network, and find opportunities to grow together. When they asked if I would partner with them to spread the word, I was thrilled! One of my goals for this year is to participate in more conversations that help women become more empowered and connected. And I want to share that with you.

Business Babe Balloons

Photo by @creativewifeandjoyfulworker

The launch celebration will feature refreshments, photo ops, prizes, vendors, mingling and a Q&A with Desiree Siegfried. If you’re not part of Bachelor Nation, Desiree is a bridal designer best known for meeting her husband Chris on season nine of ABC’s The Bachelorette. I actually met her last month and was excited to hear about her new wedding dress collection, which is so beautiful! Can’t wait to pick her brain on the risks she took to build her business (Desiree Hartsock Bridal) — not to mention meeting her husband on TV.

Desiree Sigfried

Photo by @katieparraphoto

I hope you’ll join me and dozens of other Seattle-area lady bosses from 6:30 – 9:30 p.m., on Thursday, Jan. 25, at Sole Repair Shop in Capitol Hill. You can buy tickets here.

-Winters


Note: Seattle Business Babes provided me a free ticket in exchange for my assistance with publicity. I’ll always be transparent when organizations provide an incentive for my work. But rest assured, my opinions and recommendations are strictly my own and if I don’t like something or believe in it, you’ll know.