To say that B and I have existed in a happy little newlywed bubble for the past year and a half is an understatement. Just when we were starting to settle in to married life, we were sent away to France. Absolutely nobody was complaining about that opportunity (except maybe my mama-in-law - love you!). But it gave us another six months in a different but happier newlywed bubble.
Eventually, as I'm sure you all saw coming, that bubble had to end. I will say that our relationship itself is wonderful and in that respect we are still like newlyweds, which is nice (who knew it lasted this long? I didn't, but it's amazing!). But we needed to get serious about some other things.
It started on our way back to Tours from Chateauneuf-du-Pape/Marseille/Lyon, when we got stuck in a traffic jam and our supposedly 6-hour trip took 8 hours. There is only so long you can put up with French radio, so we started talking. Actually, I started talking - I started complaining about how I felt fat. And I made it very clear to B that this wasn't one of those instances in where the girl says that just to get her boyfriend/fiance/husband to tell her she's pretty. I wasn't happy with the way I looked and felt. And I started talking seriously about changes I wanted to make and asked him to keep me accountable. Not only was he willing to do that, he was also willing to jump on that bandwagon with me.
And from there it spiraled. We talked the remainder of the trip back to Tours. It was one of the deepest, most honest, and most connecting conversations we've ever had. There were so many things that were important to us that we wanted to do, that we needed to do, that we had been neglecting. Nutrition and exercise, friends and family, our spending habits, getting rid of a lot of our stuff that no longer served us, looking at purchasing a house. It ran the gamut, really.
But in all we discussed that we wanted to work on or change, some themes kept popping up. We wanted - nay, needed - to get organized. We wanted to be intentional in our habits, especially moving forward. And we wanted to be authentic to ourselves and to others. Seeing as how we had been in Oia, Santorini, not too long ago, I quickly realized the first letter of those themes spelled Oia. I thought it was beyond fitting. Oia isn't a perfect place, but it's simple and it's beautiful. And so our new "lifestyle project" (for lack of a better term - I realize that sounds immeasurably cheesy) was born.
As we began to make changes such as making healthier recipes, saving money on grocery shopping, or cleaning out the closet, we will look at everything through a lens of O.I.A. But before I started sending out blog posts laced with this O.I.A. business, I wanted to explain it to you so it made sense. I know this sounds bizarre, but organizing anything is my passion, and I like to be the girl with a plan. I've learned the hard way that sometimes things don't always go according to said plan, but even if everything doesn't work out perfectly it tends to get closer than you would be without the plan. So here goes. The launch of O.I.A. And a pretty picture of Oia. You're welcome.
Obsessively Organized E
Organized: This doesn't necessarily mean having your pantry spices alphabetized or your clothes hung up in color order in your closet, although it certainly can mean that if you want it to. But for us, it's a broader definition. We want to know what our goals are so we're not floundering along without a plan and then being shocked when we don't reach them.
"Organized" will mean knowing what we're working toward and having a goal and a (loose) plan. For us, it means getting our spending under control so we can save up for a down payment. It means getting a meal calendar organized so we can minimize food waste and create healthier meals. It means having a schedule or a routine so that we both know what to expect from ourselves and each other. And yes, it does also mean trying to get the @#$%ing guest bedroom closet cleaned out - but that's probably the least likely thing to happen.
Intentional: If "organized" is the goal (such as weight loss), then "intentional" is what we're doing to reach that goal, and also what we do after we reach it (weight maintenance, for example). One thing we both noticed and talked about was our pantry and grocery shopping. In America, we tended to buy bulk stuff at Costco (canned tomatoes, chicken broth, black beans) or we would buy stuff on a whim. Invariably, stuff would go to waste. We would do at least bi-yearly pantry clean-outs and dump a ton of stuff that had gone bad...or furry (the amount of science projects we've had...).
But in France, we noticed we only bought what we needed for that particular day. Because the market wasn't far and I could walk everywhere, I bought produce almost daily - occasionally I would stock up on some fruit to have for a few days, but that was rare. Plus, bread, pastries, anything like that didn't have preservatives in it, so you absolutely did not buy that baguette until you actually wanted it, and then you ate it all...because by the next morning it was a terrific baseball bat. We rarely had any food waste in France. That's something we realized we wanted to emulate here.
By being intentional, we're going to try to ask ourselves things like, "Does this food item go with my meal/recipe, or is it just a well-placed advertising grocery store whim?" When I'm shopping (Target, I'm looking at you!), I try to ask myself, "Will this actually make me happier in the long run, or is this just an impulse purchase because I feel like buying something?" If we're going to put calories in our bodies, they're going to be worthy ones - I'd rather have a glass of good Bordeaux or some chocolate than some cheap crackers. If we're going to spend money, it's going to be on things like books, movies, entertainment, experiences, and trips rather than a $10 candle at Target because I was bored. Basically, all the choices we make, we want to try to understand why we're making them. It's okay to give in sometimes - but there needs to be a reason other than, "I just thought I'd do that today."
Authentic: This is the hardest to define and the strangest, but it's something that's important to us both. With our particular age group and the prevalence of social media, we've seen a lot of really fake people. Not only are we sick and tired of the posing, we don't want to be like that. We don't want to be the supposedly perfect people who intimidate and make others doubt or feel bad about themselves. Yes, we just spent six months living in France which even to us was kind of dream-like, but we are so not perfect and so don't have it all together.
Especially here, on this little forum of mine, I want you all to feel like you're getting the real us. Yes, I try to take really good photographs - but that's mostly because I love photography, not because I want to pretend like I've got this perfect blog going on over here. I mean, I've taken some really bad pictures before, too, and you've seen those. It balances. I want you all to know that I'm basically just a hot mess who is enough just as I am, and you are, too. I love you all - and I never want you to read this blog and think, "Oh, wow, she lived in France and makes healthy oatmeal cupcakes, she's got it all together." Ahahahahaha no.
Authenticity also has another side: we want to be honest with ourselves and each other if something isn't working. If the healthy recipes are getting to be a little too much and someone (most likely me) needs Taco Casa occasionally, we want to be honest, and not drive ourselves and each other to do things that just aren't a good fit for us, either personally or as a couple. Because life is too short to make ourselves miserable - there's always another way.
So there you have it. O.I.A. in a nutshell. As we unpack our trunks and settle back into life here, you'll see lots of tips and ideas coming your way. So stay tuned!
P.S. - HAPPY 30TH BIRTHDAY TO MY LOVE! I am forever grateful you were born, that you're the man you are, and that you chose me to be your wife. #teamstevensonforlife