The Seven Keys to a Long & Happy Marriage

The Seven Keys to a Long & Happy Marriage

Marriage has the capacity not only to teach us more about others, but mostly about ourselves. When I was younger, I figured I would never marry. I was a hard and fast feminist with little patience for the opposite sex. Growing up taught me to really evaluate my own behavior if I wanted to have a partner in life. It wasn’t all about me. When I met my husband, he taught me patience, and the importance of sticking it through; even when its tough. Marriage

Marriage needs a firm foundation to outlast the pressures of everyday life. The national divorce rate is over 50% in the United States; and climbing! A wise woman once told me, “as quickly as you enter into this decision is as quickly as it can end.” How it begins, could very well be how it ends. I’m sure glad we put forth a lot of effort into our marriage. We met opposition almost immediately, but stood strong in our belief that we were doing what was right for us, and not losing sight of what was important to our end goal. Sometimes being there for each other doesn’t make you popular, but when your choices are made for the right reasons, you don’t need the popular vote. Since then, we’ve had lots of ups, mostly wins, and just as many losses. We haven’t always had the support system we needed, but we’ve always remained on the same team. Respectful of each other as human beings, and always willing to work through it and come out stronger on the other end. We encourage one another to always take the high road, and stand by each other when the other is making some tough yet necessary decisions. In our twelve years of marriage we’ve learned a few things..

 

Be Yourself

Nobody wants to marry the representative. You know, the person you met while dating that has gone missing and been replaced by this new person whom you swear you’ve never met before. My husband often tells me, “you are exactly the person I met fifteen years ago,” and it’s true. For all my faults, being a flip-flopper is not one of them. I have remained true to myself and the things that matter most to me. I never sold him a dream, or changed my entire belief system to stay on trend. I’ve never needed to be the most popular, and I am completely comfortable with sticking to my guns in the name of authenticity. I’ve always been forthcoming with him, and for that he respects me. He has a quote he uses often, “lies always change, but the truth remains the same.” If you are spending your marriage saying what you think the other person wants to hear (lying), then you aren’t being authentic, and eventually this will back-fire. If you enter into this union with any feeling other than you want to spend your life with this person, then it will eat away at you until there is nothing left. That voice that you tried to silence will never go away. To thine own self be true! I think Shakespeare nailed it with this one, don’t ya’ think?

Do You

Being married doesn’t turn you into Siamese twins. Two halves may equal a whole, but you can’t marry half a person. It’s imperative that you keep your individuality. Stay focused on what mattered to you before marriage, and respect the same for your partner. All too often folks get together and forget what they loved to do pre-relationship. I recently joined a book club, because I love to read (always have), and it can be difficult to get the time in at home. Reading allows you to escape your daily responsibilities and can provide an exciting escape. I meet with a group to discuss our latest read and how it’s impacted us, share our thoughts, and have a good laugh/or cry. Our latest book, The Marriage Pact, focuses on exactly this point. It’s the perfect summer read by the pool, a real page-turner sharing the twisted facets of marriage and just how far people will go to keep it as it is. This all-nighter is scary and insightful all at once. Creating time to do what I love, like read The Marriage Pact on the beach, helps me be a better version of myself for my family. Depositing into my own tank, helps me stay focused on what’s important to me; my family. The Marriage Pact is a fun read for any married folks!

Keeping your partner from the lifestyle they love to satisfy your own needs is selfish and will only implode the first chance it gets. I feel a sense of responsibility to encourage my partner to explore what means most to him. Sometimes he may need a nudge in that direction to help remember what he was passionate about, pre-marriage, and especially pre-kids. Sharing in the joy of what your partner is passionate about will not only re-enforce their individuality, but bring you closer together in the end. Bonus!

 

Ban Labels

We try to avoid labels at all cost. Any label really.. You know the kind, “I’m the bold one, he’s just shy.” “He’s the big earner, she’s just a housewife.” All of these are damaging and in no way reflective of any one person. Still, it can be easy to fall into a trap of looking at your partner through a specific label. You see, labels change our perception of a person, and if we only see one dimension of  a multi-faceted human being, our estimation is off; and such is our judgement. Each of us possess many attributes, more than we could count in a lifetime. At times we put forth different energy and have different experiences. To pigeon-hole our partner into being one way, or one type of person, will keep the marriage stunted; and only make each other resentful. Do yourself a favor, don’t be a label-whore.

Work From The Inside Out

We carry many triggers inside ourselves. Eckhart Tolle refers to them as the “pain-body,” memories we’ve accumulated over a lifetime that made an impact on us, and show up emotionally in other situations. Have you ever lost your temper over something silly? It wasn’t really the small issue, there was a trigger from a much larger issue that has never been addressed. It’s easy to adopt a victim’s mentality and just blame people for how you feel, or how they “make” you feel. But the truth is, it’s all your baggage. Certain situations wouldn’t even bother you if you didn’t have an internal trigger waiting to be offended. It’s easy to be jealous of time that your partner spends with someone else if you are insecure in your relationship. It takes bravery to be honest and share your feelings openly and without blame, then dive deeper to the root of it all. These triggers make navigating a relationship  like walking through an emotional mine field. Colin Tipping believes that in every situation (even where you feel wronged), there is a manifestation of a trigger that the other person is re-enacting with you. If every time we felt uncomfortable or offended in any situation in our lives, we just took a moment to step back and see what our own role in this could be, the world would be a much more forgiving place with a lot more compassion. Going on and on blabbing to the free world how another person made you behave erratically is futile, and will never heal your relationships. Besides, it breaks the next rule..

One on One

There is no room for a third-party in your relationships, and that includes your ego. I have a saying (I can do these all day), “if you have a problem with me, and you haven’t addressed me, then you do not have a problem with me. You just have a problem.” There is nothing that will kill any relationship faster than taking it to the streets. If you need the approval of “the people” to help validate your case, then perhaps you don’t have a case at all. Remember, the loudest person in an argument usually has the most to hide. Handle your disagreements one on one, don’t fight dirty. No one else should be involved in your relationship, because at the end of the day they don’t have to live with your choices; you do. Involving another cast of characters to your quarrel invites a new level of disrespect, one that won’t be so easy to dissolve. If you gather an army of minions to take on your plight, you’ve just started a war. Where is the resolution in that? Taking your private matters onto a public forum invites the opinions of the masses, which is never helpful in repairing a relationship. In fact, it pretty much seals the deal and puts the final nail in the coffin. Going public with a dispute of any kind violates the privacy of your relationship (whether marital or not), and sends the message that you don’t intend on resolving it. Finito..

Be Vulnerable

This is perhaps one of the most difficult of all the rules. Being vulnerable opens us up to a world of happiness, it also makes us available to pain. The two ride alongside each other in life. No risk, no reward. People tend to shy away from being vulnerable enough to say things like, “I get upset when I see you do..,” or I don’t feel important when you don’t..” Instead they use lines like, “you make me feel like..” or “because he didn’t do…” Vulnerability is tough, but it opens your relationship (all relationships, including familial) to all kinds of joy! The two aren’t mutually exclusive, you can experience heartache, and still find the joy in it. The ego tends to encourage us to attach ourselves to a label, “I am right, you are wrong,” so that it can exist at all. When you rid yourself of the ego in your relationships, there is no need for a label or any justification. It is understood that something happened, and two different people can have two totally different experiences, both deserving of respect. Once you are vulnerable with someone you trust completely, you realize you’re in the same boat rowing for the same team, and both perspectives are valid. Where there is understanding and acknowledgement, love flows freely. Don’t get me wrong, you shouldn’t walk through life being vulnerable with just anyone, reserve it for the folks you keep nearest and dearest. Or as Brene Brown would say, “those that have earned the right to hear your story..”

There is Always Something To Learn

The first step in losing it all is thinking you’ve got it all figured out. A wise man knows that he knows nothing, is how the saying goes. If everyone you know, knows what you know, then you need to meet different people. You can’t possibly surround yourself in the same environment and expect to evolve. Evolution is bold, and at times uncomfortable, but completely necessary. If you can’t learn and grow together, how can you spend a lifetime together? A lasting marriage often means that two people have learned to acclimate to life’s spontaneous twists and turns, and still come out of it together. The journey is just as important as the destination, and if the road there was filled with damaging moments like disrespect, lack of compassion, and blame; then who wants to celebrate with that person afterwards? If you stay the course and continue to put forth your best self, have compassion for each other when you aren’t your best selves, and always come back to the strong foundation you’ve built; then you will be alright..

These are just a few of the many lessons marriage has taught us, and they have helped improve all relationships in my life. I’m sure there will be many more to come!

Click here to learn more about The Marriage Pact available now, or to order your own copy!

Essentially yours,

Erika

 

The House That Hair Built

The House That Hair Built

The saying goes, “necessity is the mother of invention.” Well, if that’s the case, then Inger Ellen Nicolaisen is that mother. All the way from Norway, Inger has become mama bird to many, and created the most successful salon franchise in the world. After discovering motherhood at only sixteen years old, she not only survived teen pregnancy, but she rocked it; and shattered all kinds of glass ceilings on her way up. Inger, went on to grow both her family and her business. But still, it took a single song (Elton John’s “Nikita”) on a dance floor in a disco that would spark one of the greatest projects she could ever birth, Nikita Hair.

Nikita Hair USA

Since then Nikita Hair has opened over 150 location in Norway, and now can finally be found right here in Boca Raton. The doors opened to this gorgeous salon with impeccable lighting and even more impressive stylists. So, what brings Nikita to the U.S.?

Passion

Nikita Hair USA

Forty-three thousand. That is the number of zip codes in the United States. Once Inger heard this, she couldn’t rest until she occupied at least one of those US zip codes, and here she is. The Nikita Hair Salon is located on Federal Highway and Palmetto Park Road, that’s prime real estate here in Boca Raton. The driving force behind Nikita Hair is passion. Everyone from the top to the bottom is passionate about this brand, and they should be. Nikita Hair has launched such successful sister-brands like Eleni & Chris, the likes of which have received top billing in the hair and skin care industry. A unique and powerful brand with the finest quality natural Scandinavian ingredients. I’ve been using the Facial Hydration Spray and am in love with it.

Eleni & Chris

While sitting and learning directly from the master behind this glorious madness, a group of us bloggers were treated to a bit of a history lesson in Inger’s life. We listened and learned, and then began asking questions. What struck me most in this interview portion was her answer to a fairly simple question, “how did you come to open your first business at 16?” She replied very honestly, that is what I was passionate about. In a world where authenticity is few and far between, Inger had the presence of mind at only sixteen years-old to pursue her passion, knowing that success would eventually follow. Since then she has written many books on how to be successful and even starred in a local reality show.

Nikita Hair USA

Family

While visiting with the staff of Nikita, it became evident that Nikita is built on family. Inger is a mother to many, but most importantly her fourteen children. Three of which are her biological children and even more that are adopted (although it seems as though even she has forgotten which  is which). We were lucky enough to have them cater a delicious spread for us from scratch. After all, it seems that is how they do things around here; organically, and as a family. Everyone is invited to the table it seems, from the PR team, to the managerial staff, and even the receptionist. All hands are on deck, giving this top of the line hair salon a feeling of home. Just a very stylish home.. Everyone leaves Nikita with a  great feeling,  including the staff.

Nikita Hair USA

Luxury

Nikita Hair USA

Nikita Hair USA prides themselves on helping their clients to be the best version of themselves. So after a decadent brunch, they whisked us away in a stretch hummer limo to give us a private tour of the first Nikita Hair USA location. This salon is beautiful and equipped to handle all of your beauty needs (mani/pedi’s/ hair color, cut, blow dry / deep conditioning treatments w/ a complimentary shiatsu scalp massage). You can choose from a Junior / Senior / or Master Stylist, all of whom are thoroughly trained. I inquired whether they could work with my curls and have been assured they are plenty qualified! In order to become a stylist in Europe you must first apprentice for as long as four years! All of their services are within a very reasonable price. Right now you can get a wash and blow dry for only $39! All in an effort to inspire all clients to feel great about themselves, and become a part of the Nikita family (this family is gorgeous!). After all, if you look great, you feel great. Feeling great about yourself can help you to accomplish anything your heart is passionate about. In any one of our 43,000 zip codes. I’m sure glad Nikita landed here at 33432!

Nikita Hair USA

Nikita Hair USA

Essentially yours,

Erika

Nikita Hair is located at 193 East Palmetto Park Road, Boca Raton 33432. You can book an appointment online or by calling (561) 362-7102, or walk in. You can also keep up with them on Facebook!

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Photography Tips for Beginners

Photography Tips for Beginners

This post is sponsored by KEH, Inc. As always, all opinions expressed here are 100% my own. This post contains affiliate links, purchases through these links will support essentiallyerika.com.

Photography has always been a passion of mine – I will never forget my very first camera! It’s a passion I likely inherited from my father. When I was ten years-old, he got his hands on an old manual Pentax camera. A fire ignited and suddenly he was capturing photos of my younger brother and framing them in the back office of his storefront. I watched as he would learn how to get the right exposure, then have the film developed to see his handy work. It inspired me to photograph the parts of life that spoke to me, the details that perhaps were overlooked. A set of hands, feet, cars aligned perfectly.

Tip #1: When photographing kids be sure to have your fastest shooting speed available. For a DSLR, this may be a sports mode or the “CH” setting on a Nikon. There is magic in child photography, but they are quick and you need to be ready!

Travel Photos

Today, one of my favorite subjects to photograph are my children. Motherhood is perhaps the greatest inspiration and can spark all kinds of creativity from every day moments. I also have an affinity for lifestyle photography. Travel, architecture, are all interesting to me and beg for a little camera time. In 2008 we booked a two-week trip to Hawaii. We spent a week in Waikiki and a week in Maui. I knew we needed a decent camera to photograph the beautiful sunsets we were promised, and boy was I right. I hit a local electronics store and bought my first DSLR. I went with Canon because I’d heard they were very user-friendly, and would be a simple start. I got some great shots in Auto mode, and I still treasure these photos.

Tip #2: Shooting in manual or aperture mode takes some practice, but the payoff is sweet. There is nothing wrong with shooting in Auto, it’s a great way to focus on other things, like composition.

Travel Photos

However, when I first started my blog, I knew I would need to step up my game and learn to shoot manually. I spent a good amount of time discovering which brand I wanted to put my trust in, as well as the best way to purchase. I landed on a trusty Nikon, and bought the body separately. Selecting a lens was a bit trickier than I’d expected. Like the camera shop told me on my first visit, “photography is not a cheap hobby.” So I quickly learned that buying used / refurbished gear was a smart investment. With a trusted name like KEH, who has been helping photographers buy and sell used photo gear since 1979, you can rest assured that what you are purchasing is a wise investment. The savings comparison between KEH vs purchasing at the store is considerable. This is perfect for novice photographers looking to save as well as expert photographers looking to branch out.

Tip #3: Kit lenses are generally very limited. When purchasing a lens, make sure to factor in all types of pictures you want to take. An all-around good lens that is great for photographing lifestyle, food, and portraits is ideal.

KEH

Photography

Apart from my children, travel photography is one of my favorites. You can use up to three to four different lenses on one trip, this can be pretty expensive. I rely on the folks at KEH to help me sell a lens I may have outgrown, and search for high quality lenses that I like to think of as “pre-loved.” I’m a thrifter through and through and often enjoy the character that comes with pre-used items. I believe it adds character, and I can’t help but wonder what amazing photographs this lens has capture previously.

Bonus Tip: IF you don’t feel it, don’t photograph it. Love can be felt through a lens, don’t force the photo.

Nikon

KEH’s online ordering system is simple and easy, making the time between you click the button on your laptop to the moment you can snap a photo minimal. I rest assured knowing I am just a click away from some incredible images coming my way. Cutting down on the worry and stress help to keep momentum going and ensure the inspiration keeps flowing.

You can appraise your camera gear or browse items for sale on the KEH website.

Happy Snapping!

Essentially yours,

Erika

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