Why Kristen and I Almost Didn’t Get Married (For a Good Reason)

by Richard Furleigh

The decision to get married is a big one; one of the biggest of your life. The decision to spend the rest of your life with one person is daunting to say the least. Now, Kristen and I love each other (a lot) but when talking about the rest of our lives we had a serious debate whether we wanted to get married or not. We definitely wanted to spend the rest of our lives together, but the question was the paperwork behind it.

It wasn’t until more recent history when governments at a local and state level began requiring licensing for marriages; starting around the mid 19th century.  Prior to that announcements in newspapers or by word of mouth in communities was accompanied by a simple ceremony without all the lavish trappings of modern weddings.

For Kristen and I it came down to a few things. One, we knew we wanted to spend the rest of our lives together and didn’t need a piece of paper telling us that. Two, those pieces of paper do cost money to get in addition to the time required to go get them processed. So in many respects it just felt like an unnecessary step in our lives.

The United States however thinks otherwise in many respects. Unless we wanted to jump through a ton of other legal hoops at various points in our lives, being married is one of the only ways to ensure life with your chosen partner is smooth in the legal sense. End of life care, life insurance, health insurance, taxes, offspring rights, even renting an apartment all become massively more difficult to navigate if you are “together” but not married. On top of that, with our name change we would have had a harder time convincing a judge to allow it.

In the end we did get married in Harris County, but only for the simplicity of legal processes throughout our lives. I really wish the US and it’s states made unmarried life for committed couples a little more accommodating in this respect because, as I stated, it really just feels unnecessary. We love each other and choose to be together and we don’t need a document to tell us that.

We do know there are couples out there who have chosen to go without that paper, and we would love to hear from you so some of our other readers can be informed too! What issues have you run into and how have you overcome them? Do you have any recommendations for others who may think about doing the same? Let us know down below and thanks in advance for sharing your knowledge! Until next time Pengminions!!

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Finding A Wedding Venue

When starting to plan for your wedding one of the biggest choices you have to make is the venue. Venues come in all shapes and sizes and determine when, where, and how you get to celebrate your wedding day and reception. When picking a venue Richard and I knew we did not want to break the bank but since we were going to be inviting about 60-70 people we knew we needed space. We also knew that cost was our greatest concern. To start we definitely, for s’s and g’s, looked at your more traditionally utilized spaces for weddings. They were: $10,000, $15,000, $20,000 and often they didn’t include everything unless you want to pay even more!

*Dead*

So, once we reinforced our gut feelings we sought out alternatives. We knew that we were not looking for an all-inclusive venue because food, alcohol, decorations, cake, flowers, ect. we could and wanted to do ourselves; besides knowing we could find it much cheaper than if we had it included in the venue. We went with a basic, bare community center in Texas knowing we could turn it into something all our own. All for the great big price of, $350. There are many community resources out there that offer spaces indoor and outdoor to hold your event and for a fraction of the cost of most wedding venues.

Before: Venue

Some alternatives can be, depending on size and what you are wanting to do, are:

1.) A local or even destination park – You can often rent spaces at community parks for almost nothing. You might not even have to pay if it is super small.

2.) A beach – Just do your research early on for potential permit requirements or restrictions.

3.) Community centers -They offer spaces that are sometimes really basic and bare and other times quite beautiful. They almost always will be many times cheaper than a true wedding venue.

4.) Have a backyard wedding – If you, family or friends have a nice house that wouldn’t mind offering up their home for your big day you could make it an extremely budget friendly wedding.

5.) The great outdoors – Even some National Parks offer the ability to hold your event in beautiful locations. Check out some of these suggestions, here.

6.) Have your wedding on an off-peak day (during the week) or during the off season.

7.) Use your creativity! You can get married almost literally anywhere! Use venue search terms that don’t include “wedding” and you might find something perfect that you may have missed otherwise.

The greatest key here is start doing your research early. Some of these ideas fill up swiftly like normal wedding venues so getting the process started early is important. Some don’t require as much prep or any permits but you should make sure you find out ahead of time so you know what you are getting yourself into.

Find out the requirements and restrictions when you are researching so you know what you can and cannot expect from a particular site. You don’t want to have paid for particular elements like a band, decorations, alcohol, ect to find out the day of they are not allowed. Know what you want and what you are willing to do without. Not every THING is as important as it may seem. Save money and just enjoy spending time with the people you are sharing this all with.

Remember it is supposed to be an experience of a life time not an experience you end up paying for for a whole life time. What are some unique ideas you have for a wedding ceremony, reception, or both? How were you able to save money planning your wedding? Let us know in the comments; we love hearing about your experiences. Til next time Pengminions!

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Hubris

“It’s often foolish pride that tells us we’re not wrong” – What If I Was Nothing? by All That Remains (one of my favorite hard rock love songs, who says headbangers can’t have feelings too?!)

When it comes to relationships I feel pretty confident in saying that this one thing more than almost anything else is the killer. Yes your ex’s of the past may have been slobs, or didn’t show they cared, or were too controlling, or any other slew of problems. But, peel back the layers however and I’m willing to say that a lack of true consideration for the other person stemming from an inflated sense of ego is at the root of it all. Even in my relationship with Kristen, which I think we work pretty well together most of the time, I see the telltale signs on both ends of arguments.

Acknowledging this lurking monster has been one of the greatest challenges of my adult life. Looking back I can see how this one thing has torpedoed past relationships with people, and strained others with family and friends. So what exactly have I been doing and how can it maybe help you?

  • For starters it helps to try to keep a level head before the real argument even starts, once things begin to go red it’s too late. Understanding that in most cases the other person isn’t genuinely trying to be mean, it’s just a matter of how you’re interpreting the situation that is leading you down this path. Back up a little bit and try to understand where they are coming from.
  • If you find yourself getting agitated during a conversation ask yourself why is it that you feel that way? Exploring the rationale behind your emotions is a powerful tool to not only understanding the situation better but understanding yourself.
  • Learning to take criticism (even about small things) is pivotal. People don’t like feeling like they’re nagging, but if something is out of place or unclean there is then good reason to bring it up. General cleanliness can make items easier to find for future use, and can lend to a general sense of well-being. Not helping the other person feel good about their living situation is selfish to say the least.
  • On the flip side of that one, learn to let some small things go. Not every blanket, shoe, and cup has to be put back 100% of the time. Much in the same way that letting go of your ego about not needing to “keep everything perfect” isn’t helpful; insisting that everything be in it’s perfect little place isn’t either  and can be just as selfish. Balance is sometimes found in the grey areas.

These are only a few of the tools I’ve employed, but much of it comes down to self monitoring. That in itself is another crucial tool for life but here it has such a profound impact, if you are honest with yourself and allow yourself to grow out of it.

The next time you find yourself approaching argument territory in life pause for a moment and ask yourself why? If you’re honest I bet you’ll find a completely different way to navigate the situation in a much more positive way! If you have any other tips feel free to leave them below! Until next time Pengminions.

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Why You Should Include Travel in Your Education

Richard and I are stoked for this summer! We have plans to travel with the Global Business Program (GBP) again this summer but to London this time.
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We had so much fun in New York we just had to do another one. I am sure you have gathered by now our love to travel so why not take advantage of another course that will count toward our MBA and visit another country together (or two this time). We were sold during our MBA program orientation and have a goal of attending at least one every year that we are in the program.

I will be honest, it definitely isn’t the cheapest option when it comes to getting out and traveling the world but it allows us to double dip some of our time which is important to us so that we graduate on schedule. We also get to network in a completely different way than traditional schooling. Not to mention the classroom dynamic is a completely unique experience with the GBP than sitting in a classroom lecture. We are able to glean lessons via experience and conversation as opposed to reading a textbook, hearing a lecture, and potentially having some peer discussion. The discussion and immersion aspect I find to be more engaging because the setting is different. Ideas seem to flow freer because the “classroom” is more relaxed. The size of the class also helps in this regard.

I do understand that not all travel programs are like this. Some are hosted at a University where you do have a traditional classroom for learning but often these classrooms are filled with students from all over the world. This provides a far more diverse atmosphere than at most home Universities, so the perspectives you receive from your peers has the potential to be more varied.  Sometimes their perspectives will be surprisingly similar to your own; both scenarios will give you a broader and deeper appreciation of others.

The most spectacular thing to remember is you aren’t in class 24/7 whether in the GBP or otherwise and off school times you get to explore a whole other world! When in New York we had seen one of those fancy food videos floating around Facebook and made our way down to Black Tap for this glorious shake!
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If you are in school or know someone who is I highly encourage you to find/encourage them to find a program that works with their degree and get to traveling! The world opens up to you when you open up to it. Do you have any plans or experiences traveling in school? Leave us a comment we would love to hear about your experience! Til next time Pengminions!

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Our Anniversary Wine

by Richard Furleigh

New Zealand. It’s kinda an awesome place that we may or may not have gone to on our honeymoon three years ago. Pssst, we totally did. One thing the country is know for is it’s wine.DSC_0774

Pictured is us at Greystone, one of the many excellent vineyards on the southern island. Our time at Greystone was so exceptional that we ended up buying a bottle of their Basket Star Riesling (2011) to take with us back to the US. As the bottle sat around we ended up deciding to save it and open our special honeymoon choice on our one year anniversary. It was even better than I remembered.

After that I began to wonder, as I saw other wines at different stores I began to think back to our time abroad and got an idea. It took a year and a half of searching (mostly because our taste in wine is so different) but we finally found one that we thought was good enough for our plan. The plan: find a wine that both of us enjoy that was made in New Zealand in 2014, then buy a case and open one every five years on our anniversary.

There was just something special about finding a wine that was crafted the same year we trod the ground where they grew 7,000 miles from where we now live. These bottles get to grow in depth and complexity along side us, and for the next 50 years we will have a special reminder of one of the greatest adventures the Penguin couple ever embarked on. Happy third anniversary Kristen, PenGLAP, I love you to Sirius and back!

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YOU Can Be the Key to Innovation

It is not always easy to be different but it

is important to embrace your different. No one has your exact story or your experiences in life. You should bring those with you on any project or any job that you do. You have a unique story so don’t forget to utilize your differences to bring something new to the table no matter what you do. We are all different but our experiences aren’t so far removed from someone else’s that they aren’t relatable on some level.

You could also be bringing a perspective that a particular group had not thought of, based on their individual histories, but would be important in order to reach more people or create a better idea overall depending on what you are pursuing. Innovation cannot happen without a ‘different’ thought.

Innovation involves deliberate application of information, imagination and initiative in deriving greater or different values from resources, and includes all processes by which new ideas are generated and converted into useful products…”

You have to be willing to put yourself out there in order to help the collective. No one can share your story but you. No one knows your perspective if you do not share it with them. This can be in art, business, relationships, ect. In art, theatrical arts for me, we are story tellers. If we are not willing to give of ourselves the stories fall flat and become a hollow shell of the power that they could have had. Or we could miss out on creating the next Hamilton because we were unwilling to share our unconventional ideas. In business, that new product or service may never be thought up if we are not willing to change things up or share our experiences. In relationships, with any and all people we encounter, we could be missing out on new or deeper connections.

I know we talk about innovation in terms of business often but really I think the opportunity to innovate in all aspects of your life is endless and we are the key if we are willing to put ourselves out there and share who we are. I challenge you to stop doing all you can to blend in and not makes waves; MAKE WAVES and share your thoughts. Where do you plan to start sharing more of YOU? Let us know down in the comments. We love hearing from you. Til next time Pengminions!

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She said , “We don’t want to have kids…”

At least that’s the thought right now. Kids might be cool…One day…Maybe?
We often get the “Oh, you will want kids one day” or the “Kids are the best thing to every happen to you” cliches. I am not so sure. We have time if we change our minds and right now I know I don’t want them; possibly ever.
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We can hardly take care of ourselves let alone children.

Why? Because my thoughts on the subject have changed over the years. In a previous blog you found out that I was the oldest of five kids to young parents. All of my aunts and uncles have kids too. When I was younger I figured, I’d end up with kids also, most likely as a youngin rather than later in life. I got older those ideas changed. As I went off to college and started thinking about what I wanted my life to be I started to realize the responsibility that came with having children; it takes away the freedoms that I have and am enjoying as an adult. My aspirations with art and travel are not financially nor time conducive to the commitment that raising a child(ren) requires.

No one, or rather most people, don’t talk about the challenges and down side to being a parent. The cool thing to me is that it IS optional. In this day and age the number of childless men and women has been increasing and the decision process is usually a rational one.

Over the years I have put a LOT of thought into what having children does to an individual and family. As a woman I have come to realize the psychological and physical tolls having kids can have on your being. No matter how much your partner chimes “We’re having a baby!” truly the woman is the only one who undergoes a number of dramatic changes to her life not for nine months but forever. Is it worth it? I’m not sure I believe it is. The physical changes your body endures is more than just superficial.  There is also no way to know whether or not postpartum depression will effect you and to what extent your brain changes. It is not selfish to not want to purposefully affect your being in these possible ways.

In many relationships, more often than not, child rearing disproportionately ends up falling on women in a heterosexual relationship. It takes great effort to keep this from occurring. This can prove difficult when your own upbringing was as such, which was the case for us both. This can be detrimental for those women who have other aspirations than just child rearing.

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Besides, our fur~baby family makes us pretty darn happy!

The happiness that people talk about with their “bundle of joy” also isn’t the case for all parents; some people are really unhappy after having kids and the stresses it can cause. I am quite happy with the life that Richard and I have been building and having kids just doesn’t seem to fit in with our plans as of now. We have plenty of time to reassess as we go on this journey together. Currently I like that our time can be spent only factoring in each other’s respective lives. We are able to focus on our goals and aspirations; not to mention the traveling we are able to do that would potentially be cost and time prohibitive if we had children.

Another reason having kids does not seem right for me is the number of children that are without a home. I have thought if I were to have children that comes with the caveat that its a two for one deal; I would have to adopt as well.  If I’m going to bring a child into this world I am going to take in one that is already here and needs a family. To me it feels wrong to bring another human into this world when there are already so many people that go without. That is twice as much time, energy, money, ect.

Whether or not we have children is to be determined and only time will tell but as for now our reasoning together points toward no. We are completely OK with that because we know that it is a choice and a responsibility not to be taken lightly. What are your thoughts on having kids? Let us know in the comments below. Til next time Pengminions!
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He said, “We don’t want to have kids…”

By Richard Furleigh

If there are a small handful of choices we have made in our lives that truly define us as questioning everything it is our decision to not have children. While the number of children per family has declined over the last few decades the general attitude is that couples will end up having kids together. Separately both of us had even wanted them ourselves when we were younger but the times they are a changin!

Growing up I had assumed that I would have two kids, and my wife and I would split work/home duties and raise our little loving family. As I got into college and toward graduation I wanted to make sure that if I did have kids that it was under circumstances that would be conducive to a good upbringing; then Kristen and I got to talking…

It’s not that either of us changed the others mind, rather our thoughts had been shifting on their own for some time before we sat down and discussed what our potential family would look like. As we talked we realized that our life plans seemed so chaotic already, full of ambitions that take an exceptional amount of time and dedication, that we LOVE to travel and see the world. These things, while not impossible with children, definitely become much more difficult and not to mention costly (because unless that 4 & 6 year old have jobs they aren’t contributing to that trip to Disney that suddenly doubled in price). We also recognize the monumental effort it takes to actually be a good parent (shout out to Mike and Tracie Furin for being that!), to raise children in the best way possible becomes your #1 priority, everything else falls to the wayside when that bundle of joy arrives. This means your life, goals, and ambitions now play second fiddle.

Beyond these is also a harsh reality that people have ignored for a long time because the subject of unhappiness and children is too taboo: having kids is incredibly stressful. According to a recent study, the drop in happiness experienced by parents after the birth of first child was larger than the experience of unemployment, divorce or the death of a partner. So Kristen may actually be better off if I keel over dead than if she has a child with me.

At the end of it all what it boils down to is that I love my life with Kristen, we have a pretty awesome thing going. There are significant ambitions that having children would massively complicate in terms of artistry, career, and travel. Not to mention the costs in terms of monetary, mental, and physical health are enormous and understated. In many ways I feel that I just don’t want to give up the life I have with her, the things we are able to do with relative ease right now that would become giant undertakings with even one child. If it happens, then hey, I will welcome the little Furleigh. I hope I would make a good Dad, and I know Kristen would be a great mother. For now though, this is the last thing we are trying to make happen in our lives, and we are just fine with that.

What’s your take on kids? To have them, not to have them, maybe you already have a couple and could shed a little more insight on the topic? We’d love to have a conversation with you about it! Just let us know in the comments. Until next time Pengminions!

Also read Kristen’s take here!

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Doing things Different Inspired by Grit

In our MBA class we just finished reading a book called GRIT by Angela Duckworth. When thinking about grit it really struck me that it is in many ways doing things differently. Not allowing your set backs to define your future and that you can persevere over your situation. Where many would give up you don’t; that difference has a huge impact. I’d like to share with you a few quips from my life’s story where I believe I persevered and hopefully inspire you in the process.

Growing up my family was pretty poor and my parents weren’t good with money. When I was young I remember going to the grocery store and my mom only being able to purchase food that was on the WIC list. One of the cool things about it though is I never remember her placing any shame around it. It was just a fact. We didn’t stay on them forever; but they were a necessity for a young family with 5 kids in order to work themselves to a place where they no longer needed them. It was accepted that it was where they were but not where they had to stay: a tool not a crutch.
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I had another big lesson in high school when I learned that the government can take money from your bank account if you owe them. I decided that would never be (my parent’s account was where my working money had been kept.)

This happening canceled the senior trip I had planed on taking and had been saving for and though it hurt I decide not to allow that to crush me for long. It galvanized me to never make their same mistakes. I also resolved that just because this trip didn’t work out didn’t mean I would never travel.

My parents didn’t include me in the conversations about what had happened until they absolutely had to because they couldn’t come up with the money in time for me not to notice. I then decided that honesty will always be my policy. The truth can hurt but being lied to hurts worse. Those involved should always have a say.

After all this, when turning 18, I took charge and the first thing I did when I woke up that day was get the couple hundred dollars I had saved and opened my own bank account so I got to decide what happened to my money.
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Going to college was ingrained in me from very early on, but my parent’s didn’t have the means to financially support me to go there so I had to find a way to make it work. So, I worked, went to community college, attend rehearsals, made time for friends, and eventually made my way to University. Not going wasn’t an option. Although it was slow, (I didn’t always take a full course load) and was without a doubt nontraditional, I finally finished 6 years later.

During my senior year of college I decide that the study abroad program was something I couldn’t miss out on. I didn’t let my small bank account, lack of a job because of the demands of the thearte, or the failure of my last senior trip dictate the pursuit of this one. I recruited friends, found support in my home town, and put together a plate sale to help fund the trip. And I went!

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Without these happenings I would have missed out on a lot of learning:

If you allow them, harsh lessons can lead you to develop further and  hopefully inspire you to think of things different to accomplish your goals. In many ways I changed my narrative and so can you. Share with us some of your stories of perseverance or what is going on in your life and what you plan to start doing differently! Til next time Pengminions!

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Experiences are the Best Gifts

~Kristen Furleigh

The best gift you can give some one is your time. Rather than spending your hard earned money on things that in most cases only offer short term fulfillment why not think differently next time a holiday or birthday come around. We as people remember most the experiences we had and the people we had them with more readily than the gift items we get. Why not give the gift of experiences and/or time when the next gift giving event takes place?

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Around here we prefer just that. Any chance we get we are trying to come up with a meaningful experience in which we can gift our time when these milestones hit. This year was my Dad’s 50th birthday and what we came up with is for me to take him out to a different spot once a month for the whole year and we grab a beer together . This encourages us to make time for each other; which with our busy schedules can get away from us sometimes. For the year we are dedicating once a month to an experience and quality time; which is better than any ol’ tie or bottle of aged whiskey could offer. It’s just two months in and it has been a blast!

If you are looking for some grand adventures or experiences and don’t know where to look try out Groupon. You can get ideas and even try something new for a fraction of the original cost. They have offers in most cities.

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Christmas this year was a great year for Groupons, one of my favorite gifts, my parents got each of us ‘kids’ a voucher for go-kart racing! And for my parents I got us an adventure for a group snowshoeing adventure up in Lake Tahoe. For Richard and I we purchased one for parasailing this summer up in Lake Tahoe also. I can’t wait to go on these epic adventures with people I love.

cpAnother place to start when trying to come up with gifts that are more along these lines is to think about the person’s interests and how you can incorporate those into an activity or outing. When my birthday came around last year Richard remembered my love of arts/crafts and weakness for a sweet Moscato and signed me up to spend time with my Mom at Crafted Palette (a local paint and sip establishment) since he had to work.

These are just a few of many ways you can change your gift giving habits that we encourage you to try out. What are some of your favorite non-traditional gifts or some ideas that you have come up with that we didn’t talk about? We would love to hear about them. Having trouble or feeling stuck; lets brainstorm some ideas together! Til next time Pengminions!

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