• 6 Months of Marriage

    October was six months of marriage for Michael and I. Over those six months, I have settled into a life I am incredibly grateful for. Each morning, I wake up happy in the bed that we share, and each night, I am full of joy as we cook dinner together. I am so in love with my husband and the life we have created, and I no longer feel like I am waiting for what comes next. I am perfectly content with where I am.

    We married on April 15th—the best day of my life. I frequently think back about our wedding day and smile about all of the perfect moments that I shared with Michael, my bridesmaids, my parents, and all of my family and friends. From the flowers, to the food, to the church ceremony, and dancing at the reception, I could not have asked for more.

    Our honeymoon was straight out of a dream. We visited Italy, Spain, and Portugal—the first big trip I have ever been on. We explored every day, ate the most delicious food, and spent every day feeling so happy to have each other. Some of the highlights of our trip were touring the Vatican City, hiking on the Amalfi coast as well as our sunset boat ride, dinner at Quinto Elemento in Madrid, our wine tour in the Douro Valley, and the most delicious dinner we have ever tasted at Casa de Chá da Boa Nova.

    I turned 24 years old in August and Michael surprised me with a nice night out to dinner. It was one of our first date nights since returning home.

    During the summer and into fall, we spent time with friends and family. We spent a weekend in Key West for my sister’s 21st birthday, visited New York to see family for a week, had family visit for the Fourth of July, and tried some new restaurants nearby, including Loretta & the Butcher.

    Lastly, we have continue to grow our community here in Miami. I am so grateful for a husband who loves going out and doing the things that I do. We have continued volunteering for Special Olympics, getting to know people in our church community, and learning more about the life that we want to live.

    Here are some reflections on my first six months of marriage as well as some thoughts on what is to come.

    1. Michael and I love to spend time together. We were long-distance for years, and I am now noticing how grateful I am that after spending a year living together, we do not get sick of each other. Whether we are going grocery shopping on a Sunday night or working next to each other on the couch, we love to be together.
    2. Michael is my number-one cheerleader. He is so proud of my accomplishments, big or small. It feels amazing to know how much support I have coming from him.
    3. I am so very happy with where we are right now, and yet I can’t wait to see what is to come!

    Here is the link to another blogpost I wrote reflecting on marriage a few weeks back. Enjoy!

  • Soulmate 101

    I was 15 when I met Michael. We dated for six years before Michael proposed on a beach in Montauk—four were long-distance. I was 21 when we got engaged, 22 when we moved in together, and 23 when we got married. Occasionally, we argue, but the disagreements never last long. We love spending time together on dates at Barnes & Noble, and we cook dinner together almost every night.

    Soulmates? Feels like it to me.

    Michael proposing to Kristen Carolan on the beach in Montauk.

    Yesterday, I woke up feeling less than refreshed. I trudged through my morning. Breakfast was rushed and the traffic was heavy. I love my job, but that does not exempt me from having days I would rather spend lying in bed. The kids had a lot of energy, and I had none. It was a long day.

    A new experience living in a big building is that when I walk down the hallway after a long day and smell a delicious meal, it is hard to tell whose kitchen it is coming from. Yesterday, it was coming from mine. I opened my door, and Michael was at the stove wearing his cooking apron (we have matching ones). I could tell he was cooking Indian by the way the aroma of spices immeditely flooded my senses. “Dinner is almost ready,” he called, “set the table”.

    I smiled while I put out the plates, forks, and cups. I ran to our room to put on my slippers while Michael moved the meal to the table. He turned to hug me. Warmth spread over my face when he kissed my cheek. “How was your day?” he asked. “Great,” I responded.

    Michael and Kristen Carolan hugging at a backyard party in 2022.

    While preparing for marriage, Michael and I took Pre-Cana classes through our church. One thing that they shared has stuck with me and impacts the wife I am every day.

    Relationships are not 50/50 they are 100/100.

    I tried to live this way in the weeks following. I gave 100% of myself to Michael whenever I could. I put away his laundry when he told me I could leave it on the bed. I stopped to make him breakfast when I felt rushed in the morning. I searched for his glasses each time he lost themand this was frequentdespite wishing he found them himself.

    This practice has helped me to build a lot of trust in my husband. At first, I worried my needs would be unfulfilled. How could I get my lunch packed on a busy morning when I prioritized making Michael’s breakfast? Then, at night, I come home from a long day. I am dreading cooking a meal. But, when I walk in the door, I see my husband standing at the stove, asking me to set the table.

    With love,

    Kristen Mary Carolan

  • I Had A Perfect Wedding and How That Matters To You

    I tucked myself into my sister’s bed by 11 pm. My best friend, Carolyn, was on an air mattress on the floor. Every few minutes she would check in with me, asking if the excitement had died down enough to allow me some beauty rest. It hadn’t. 

    At some point, I drifted off into a shallow sleep. I was woken up by the sound of my sister Erin walking through her room. I shot up.

    “Is it morning yet?”

    Carolyn and Erin giggled. I slept for an hour. Unfortunately, that was the only time that I had managed to fall sleep that night.

    Claudia V Ayala getting ready wedding photos. Kristen and her sister Erin with their dog the morning of her wedding.

    My wedding was more beautiful than I could have dreamed it would be. Perfect and magical were the two words I used to describe the day as I recounted it with coworkers and neighbors.

    When you plan a wedding, women with more years and experience than yourself warn you of all of the wedding blunders that they have seen. They tell you to try to slow down or the day will fly by and, you will miss it. They share stories of brides who didn’t see their groom all day as they ran around sharing pleasantries or the bride who forgot to drink water and fainted in the bridal suite. They will warn you not to get stuck taking photos too long, but also that you will regret not having photos to remember each moment and guest. After your wedding, they will remark on how exhausting the whole process was. They might even say “Aren’t you glad it’s over?”.

    Claudia V Ayala wedding dress photo of Kristen Carolan’s wedding dress

    Over the past few months, I have been thinking a lot about how strong the mind is. Specifically, I have been thinking about how crazy it is that our mindset will completely shift the way that we experience life.

    I tell everyone who cares to listen about my perfect wedding. I mention that my cousin slipped and got blood on her bridesmaid’s dress as we were rushing to the church (she was okay!). I laugh as I mention the rain that came down as we stood under a gorgeous weeping willow taking photos. I show them photos of my dress after the straps had broken off. The first one popped off while I was hugging my uncle during cocktail hour. The second broke ten minutes after sewing up the first. 

    All of these beautiful blunders are what made up my flawless day.

    I feel incredibly grateful to view life the way that I do. It is such a gift to be able to see the world for the goodness that it has to offer. It has never taken much for me to recognize the good in people and experiences. When it does feel hard (because sometimes it does), I prioritize changing my outlook from one fogged by negativity to an outlook of gratitude and joy.

    I wasn’t lying when I said my day was perfect. Focusing on the beauty in life doesn’t mean lying to yourself about the darkness. The more you look at the light, the easier it is to see.

    With joy and love,

    Kristen Mary Carolan

    Flowerfield bridge wedding photos, Kristen and her brother
    Flowerfield celebrations reception hall, Kristen and Michael Carolan playing the drums at their wedding.

    can you spot the missing wedding dress strap?