Life Through My Eyes

Life Through My Eyes

Sunday, September 11, 2016

September 11th 2001. September 11th.

This is a date that doesn’t just pass without a flood of emotions.  I recall this day perfectly, as many of us do.  The country was left stunned and saddened.  People of all social, political and economic backgrounds united together in hopes of accomplishing the same goal, to heal.   

This morning as I turned on the TV and opened up my computer, I was once again left saddened.  I saw a country full of blame and hate, while offering no attempt to resolve conflicts or willingness to compromise.


A few years back I started practicing yoga after an athletic injury.  I found myself not only challenged physically, but mentally, and I suppose even spiritually.

I’d like to share a piece of  Meditations from the Mat: Daily Reflections on the Path of Yoga. You only have to go as far as the first page of the book to find this gem.  My hope is that it resonates with others in the same way it did for me.

“All of us carry a desire for a better way, a hope that we will somehow leave the world a better place than we found it.  Whether we practice yoga or meditation, vote Democrat or Republican, write popular music or computer code, we cherish the notion that things can improve and that our own good life contributes in some way to the good lives of those who will come after us.”

Thank you for reading,


"Have only love in your heart for others.  The more you see the good in them, the more you will establish good in yourself..." ~ Paramahansa Yogananda

Sunday, October 11, 2015

A Year Since "I Do's"

November 1st will mark one year since Keith and I became Mr. and Mrs.  It seems like only last week I was writing Bridezilla Posts as a coping mechanism for all the wedding stress I endured.  As I sit here and reminisce about our wedding day, I realized I never concluded the Bridezilla series (The RSVP and The Guest List) with the finale....... The wedding at The Old Sugar Mill!  

People often ask me about specific wedding details, like "what song did you use for your first dance?"  I found that I couldn't remember, and it hadn't even been a year!  When I'm old I want to be able to share my wedding story with all of those who don't care to hear it.  I decided I should gather my notes and write everything down.  Since this blog is my diary, this was the place to do it.  It's complete with dialogue and music/video links.  Hope you enjoy and laugh a little.

The day started out with coffee, hair and makeup in the brides room at The Westin Sacramento located conveniently overlooking the river and bike path! 
Going through my Bride Box my sisters made for me
Trying not to be nervous
Getting Ready Process
More Getting Ready 
Four or Five hours later we packed down our limo and headed to the Old Sugar Mill.  
Me, Mom, Felicia
Got the dress on.

Getting ready collage (and all photos) by Bellus Photography - Neisha

Relaxed in our bridal and groom sweets.

Took a "few" pictures.
First Look
First Look
Couples Shots
Bridal Party
Bride Family 
Groom Family

We decided not to go super traditional with the ceremony.  It was held in the beautiful Barrel Room at the Old Sugar Mill and incorporated our family, close friends and love of cycling. 

The very talented Arturo playing an acoustic version of Marry Me - Train
Ceremony was in the Barrel Room 
My Groom and our officiant and best friend Chris waiting for the fun
Brian, the best man and brother of the groom, walks mother of the groom down the aisle 
Paul, groomsman and brother of the bride, walks mother of the bride down the aisle 
Kathryn, reader and sister of the groom, walks with Dad (father of the groom) down the aisle
My Little Sister Kay, 1/2 of my entourage 
Little Sister and maid of honor Felicia
Last, but certainly not least!

Officiant's Opening Remarks
(Chris) “Welcome everyone! You may all be seated. If anyone has a mobile device, or a small human being, that will make noise during the ceremony, please silence them now. Please enjoy this reading by Keith’s sister, Kathryn."

Reading (Kathryn)
"Marriage Joins Two People In The Circle Of Its Love" by Edmund O'Neill

Marriage is a commitment to life, the best that two people can find and bring out in each other. It offers opportunities for sharing and growth that no other relationship can equal. It is a physical and an emotional joining that is promised for a lifetime. Within the circle of its love, marriage encompasses all of life's most important relationships. A wife and a husband are each other's best friend, confidant, lover, teacher, listener, and critic. And there may come times when one partner is heartbroken or ailing, and the love of the other may resemble the tender caring of a parent or child. Marriage deepens and enriches every facet of life. Happiness is fuller, memories are fresher, commitment is stronger, even anger is felt more strongly, and passes away more quickly. Marriage understands and forgives the mistakes life is unable to avoid. It encourages and nurtures new life, new experiences, new ways of expressing a love that is deeper than life. When two people pledge their love and care for each other in marriage, they create a spirit unique unto themselves which binds them closer than any spoken or written words. Marriage is a promise, a potential made in the hearts of two people who love each other and takes a lifetime to fulfill.

The charge of the couple/Invocation

(Chris) Thank you Kathryn. As most of you know the couple we celebrate today has an immense passion for cycling and I apologize to those of you who won’t understand the rest of this wedding’s metaphors and their meanings, but today is a day to celebrate Keith and Jennifer for who they are and what they mean to each other in their own language.
While many couples shy away from the thought of racing and training together, Keith and Jennifer, you choose to take on the ultimate cycling challenge, the team time trial.  There's a good reason why the team time trial is known as 'the race of truth'. It’s the clearest test of team unity, strength and selflessness.
You must train, race and recover together. You must let the other draft when they are tired and not leave them behind. You both must give the unending individual positive support that the other needs to keep going when they bonk or suffer a mechanical. Continue to learn where one is stronger to help when the other is weak because each person’s turn will come to block the wind and set the pace. From this point forward you must share your victories as one with the complete awareness that it takes both of you to take a podium.

The Exchange of Vows
(Chris) With that challenge ahead of you I ask that you now declare your commitment to each other individually and as a team in the exchanging of the vows.
Keith with his notecard
(Keith) I Keith Hillier, take you, Jennifer Zierke to be my lawfully wedded wife and team time trial partner for life.  I promise to remain yours for richer, for poorer, for better, for worse, in sickness and in health, for when we win and the very, very rare occasion when we lose. I promise to love, honor, and cherish you, to maintain your bike, and keep you protected in my draft. If there ever comes a time when an obstacle lies in our path, as the team leader I will do my very best to guide you safely past. This I vow to you.
Me with my notecard
(Jen) I Jennifer Zierke, take you, Keith Hillier to be my lawfully wedded husband and team time trial partner for life.  I promise to be your lifelong teammate for richer, for poorer, for better, for worse, in sickness and in health. I promise to love, honor, and cherish you, to make you homemade energy bars before the race, and do my very best to dig deep and remain on your wheel until we cross that finish line and can celebrate together through eternity. If there ever comes a time when you are in need of a break, give me the signal and I will take the lead, allowing you to rest in my draft until you’re able to pull us again. This I vow to you.

Declaration of Intent & The Ring Exchange
Chris (To Jen) Do you Jennifer, take this man, Keith, to be your lawfully wedded husband, to accept this ring as a symbol of Keith’s vows to you and to honor your vows as pronounced to him freely in front of friends and family today? If so answer, “I do”

Jen (To Keith) “I do”
I get a ring
Chris (To Keith) Do you Keith, take this woman, Jennifer, to be your lawfully wedded wife, to accept this ring as a symbol of Jen’s vows to you and to honor your vows as pronounced to her freely in front of friends and family today? If so answer, “I do”

Keith (To Jen) “I do”
Keith gets a ring

Sand Ceremony
Pouring sand
(Chris) This sand ceremony uses three separate vessels of sand one from Keith, One form Jen and one from all of you. Poured together, mixing the sand as one. Each grain of sand can be representative of a thought, feeling, or experience that brought these two together today. The combination of the sand represents the summation of two lives, now lived as one.

The Pronouncement of Marriage
(Chris) Marriage will be an exhilarating team ride. Together it is possible to accomplish things that are impossible to attain alone. Being within a harmonious team is one of the finest emotions to feel and sharing the bouquets and champagne on the podium is even better. However, even the most seasoned team will likely lose if they don’t have the necessary support. The couple asks that all of you here today please be in their team support car. You have been there for them in their lives up till now. Your support and experiences with Jen and Keith are many of the grains in the sand that is now one. I ask that you help them navigate their way and uphold their wedding vows. If so answer “I do”
The crowd.. aka our guests

Crowd says “I do”
(Chris) With this vow from your friends and family and your vows to each other, I use the authority vested in me by the State of California to now pronounce you both husband and wife. Jen, you may kiss your husband.

The Kiss

The Closing Remarks
(Chris) Now please let’s all celebrate this marriage’s first podium with food, fun and champagne!

The Recessional
We exit the Barrel Room with "You always make me smile" by Kyle Andrews
We did it!
Bubbles! I also love how Adam holds Ella!

and greeted our guests before sending them off for Hors d'oeuvre and photo booth fun while we signed our marriage license.
Groom greeting
Bride Greeting
The Signing
Bride Brothers - NERDS!
Conor and Natalie - always silly
Frank having too much fun... or too many drinks?
Hillier Family


I am still so amazed how all the little details came together. I can now appreciate how much work, thought, sweat and even tears goes into making a wedding your own.
Galleria and all it beauty
Mother in law picked out a great font 
Love the Tandem toasting glasses from Ari

Michelle did a beautiful job on these 
Keith and I DIY escort cards

Grand Entrance
We showed our appreciation to our bridal party by making them ride in to the Galleria on scooters and bikes being while being tormented with funny Chris introductions to "Ready Set Roll" by Chase Rice. Here is video proof!

Keith and I came in to "Buttons Up" by Brantley Gilbert 
Bride and Groom
After all the fun everyone was seated for dinner!
Father of the bride saying prayer 
Asante Food

On the Menu
Dinner Rolls

Winter spinach salad
baby spinach leaves, caramelized onions, gorgonzola cheese, sliced pears or green apples topped with candied pecans

Grilled/Roasted vegetable platter 
seasonal vegetables seasoned with fresh herbs, garlic, and grilled

Wild rice pilaf
long grain and wild rice flavored with a variety of herbs, stock, and bing cherries 

Garlic mashed potatoes
red potatoes blended with butter, cream and garlic 

Chicken Marbella
chicken breast marinated in Italian oregano, olive oil, minced garlic, green olives, dried plums, and topped with brown sugar and baked

Casino Roast
seasoned baron of beef served with au jus and creamy horseradish

Felicia - MOH
Brian - BM

Brad -FOB
Bride Parents

Father - Daughter  I loved her first by Heartland
Mother- Son My Wish by Rascal Flatts
First Dance Making Memories of Us - Keith Urban

We were flash mobbed by the bridal party to Cupid Shuffle
Why are you joining our first dance Chris?
Chris gets the party started 
Bridal Party Shuffle - why not join in?
Look at this moves
Soon everyone joins in
Ari, Michelle, Sara
Megan and Brad
Keith and Kerry
Annie and Frank
Grandma and Paul
Then there was cake 
I love our cake topper
Uh Oh 
He isn't laughing, is he?
Groom Cake Face 
KK is Shocked! 
Bride cake face
Kay to the rescue
Well, looks like we will smell like cake the rest of the evening

Then there was the bouquet and garter toss. I faked the girls out and Keith did a dance.
The toss... Kay was in the bathroom!
Video Proof of Keith getting down

He may or may not have been denied once.. or twice:)
The day was perfect!
Having fun with my girlfriends  
Enjoying my day as queen
Needless to say, the day was magical. I couldn't have asked for anything better. I am so grateful to all of those that made it possible.

Happy First Anniversary to my Groom! I love you! I can't wait to eat year old cupcakes and drink our Carvalho Boat Shed Red in a few short weeks.
Love this photo of my groom.  Have it on my nightstand!
Thanks for reading!