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Becoming Mrs. Josie Ahlquist

josie+lloyd-628Four years ago today on October 18th 2009, my husband and I were married.  I didn’t know it would change me.  At first these changes surprised me.  But as the years have progressed since, it has been the greatest gift.

I never really dreamed about my wedding as a little girl.  I knew myself enough, that once I would start planning the details, I would have had the entire thing planned out before I was even engaged.

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That’s not to say I wasn’t boy-crazy, chasing boys on the playground as early as kindergarten.  I had crushes on John Elway (my family is still avid Denver Broncos fans), Prince Charming from the movie Snow White and of course Superman.
When it came to dating as a teenager, growing up in a very small town in Wyoming, my options were limited.  No mall, Target, or Walmart and we had only three fast food restaurants.  It was a big deal when Subway came to town.  There was not enough girls interested in playing soccer, so I played on the men’s team.  Everyone knew everyone.
In high school, during a goal-setting school project, I anticipated I would be married right after college around 22.  Following I would build a family of five, all before turning 30.  Even in family planning I was an overachiever!
Going to college gave me a bit more perspective; I was still definitely a small town girl, hoping to find my own version of Superman.  But I was unimpressed with college dating.  Even in committed relationships, tides changed quickly with school demands, social pressures and shifting priorities as we moved closer to graduation.
It was around spring break my senior year, two months before graduating and ‘getting the heck out of South Dakota,’ I met him.  I had given up on men, or at least expectations that I was going to find a good one anytime soon.  All my energies were put toward preparing for graduate school and living up the rest of my college experience.
josie+lloyd-234Statistically, Lloyd and I were not supposed to be together.  After meeting at an improv comedy show at my college, I was shocked that only a couple days later he actually called me.  I fell hard.  Two years and thousands of phone calls later, we finally moved to the same city of Los Angeles.
I wrote about our meeting, which will be 11 years ago this March.  So, I won’t go into the detailed story in this post.
There we were, on October 18th 2009, facing each other with hands joined, surrounded with our closest friends and family.  Just like training for a marathon, getting to the starting line (or in this case the altar) was challenging.  The to-dos, the costs and endless decisions.  I reflected recently on this experience in a blog post, learning many things I would do/not do again.
With an overwhelmingly year and a half worth of planning behind us, we were finally getting married!  Ahead of us was a memorable reception, two-week Greek honeymoon and of course a lifetime together.
Since our wedding, much has changed in our lives.

  • The creation & explosion of my husbands project Epic Rap Battles of History, found on YouTube or on the ERB website here.  Be warned, my husband plays such characters as Hitler, Chuck Norris, Genghis Khan and more.  Be ready for lots of laughs, learning a bit more about history, as well as graphic language.  I couldn’t be more proud of him.
  • I have become a doctoral student and now a ‘free agent’ in higher education.  In other words, I am solely focused on my studies, as well as advancing my research.  This bold move simply would not have been possible with out Lloyd’s support.
  • We moved!  For six and 1/2 years we shared a cozy 700 square feet apartment and now we finally have more room.  Lloyd even gets a man cave/office where he shoots his Youtube Vlogs from.  I get room for my hundreds of books and even an extra closet, every woman’s dream.
  • Most recently we have grown our family!  We are proud rescue animal parents to Isabella & our new puppy Parker.

At the beginning of this post, I talked about how surprised I was that things changed about myself and our relationship after getting married.  By the time we married, we had already been together around six years.  I knew Lloyd, and how we worked as a couple.  But being a wife, having a husband and living as a married couple was different.  A difference which as a single woman I never realized, but have made me proudly into who I am today.

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Becoming Mrs. Josie Ahlquist
A Few Funny Things:

  • I’m First!  I am now first in the alphabet.  The first time this happened, being called nearly first, I was caught of guard.  Gotta say it is a perk I enjoy.
  • People’s Perceptions.  People realize you have a wedding ring.  Women compliment it.  Men sometimes look at it before looking at your face.  At first I found this odd, especially with men.  I guess it just gives people perspective…or that I’m not available!
  • Children.  We get asked about kids all the time.  Surprisingly this does not come from my family, but from friends, Lloyd’s YouTube fans and even more awkward, from complete strangers.  For the record, as of today we are happy with our rescue animals, but hope to become ‘cool’ Aunt Josie & Uncle Lloyd very soon.

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My Personal Growth:

  • Self Awareness. I will honestly say, that after getting married my identity changed.  I had no problem taking his last name.  But I did feel more convicted to make sure I had my own voice, identity and career path aside from my husband.  This process forced me to explore further who I was and what priorities I have, as it aligns with our relationship.  Now that I have gone through this exploration, I more clearly understand what my personal/professional goals are and how as a couple we can make them happen.
  • Communication.  I’m not the best person in an argument.  In fight or flight, my first instinct is to leave the room and cool off.  This doesn’t work so well in a marriage.  Now, I have learned the skills to buckle-up in conflict, use constructive words, admit when I am wrong and most importantly work toward compromise.
  • Fostering Friendships.  Since getting married I realized how much I wanted more friends, especially girlfriends.  Leading up to the big day I put all my extra energy into planning the wedding.  So when the post-wedding bridal blues hit me, I knew I needed more support.  It has taken a few years, but now I take note of my new and old friends and feel extremely lucky.  As I write this, many of them are teaming up to take care of our new puppy while we are out of town.
  • Increased Confidence.  This one was not expected, but appeared in many ways.  More confident in our relationship, in my career path, in where we are going as a couple, etc.  I think this comes from having someone I know who has my back and is along for the ride no matter what.  Stability, trust and commitment allowed me to explore new frontiers of my own and be more comfortable when Lloyd’s adventures change too.

As a Couple:

  • josie+lloyd-304Teamwork.  We are co-captains in this marriage.  Even before we were married we used this team mentality.  To maneuver through the changing tides in our lives, we need each other to back each other up.  In times when Lloyd is in video production, I step up.  When I am nearing finals week, he takes on heavy lifting.  I love this about our relationship, just knowing each other so well in how to respond with extra spurts of support.
  • Closer as a couple.  I’ve heard the first year of marriage is difficult for a lot of couples, which I would completely agree.  For us, much of this was financial, paying for our wedding.  My message to future newlyweds would be this: Yes after getting married there will be hearts and flowers, but expect a few bumps in the road.  Now four years away from that, time brought us even closer as a couple.  We had to set hard limits, goals and sacrifices for the betterment of our family.  It was worth it.
  • Extending My Family.  I have grown very close with my new brothers & sisters.  Earlier this year I wrote how lucky I am to have them.  I consider them much more than in-laws; I really (really) care about their wellbeing, and many times feel motherly (especially with Lloyd’s brothers) in checking in on them.  It also warms my heart to see Lloyd just as connected to my side of the family.
  • Space (Trust).  Long work hours and extended periods away from each other has been woven into the fabric of relationship, starting as a long distance couple.  Now married, I find myself not fretting about his late hours, last-minute trips and lags in communication.  I may still worry, but I trust him completely.  Luckily with technology like text messaging, FaceTime and Facebook we can still be in touch, which none of these existed when we were long distance.  This space gives us the freedom to be independent yet always connected.

Life is about change, whether it is embraced or fought against.  I am one that usually seeks out change, welcoming newness and growth.  I even get antsy having the same car for more than three years, so thankfully I now lease.  But sometimes, the more significant changes in our lives come on gradually and once looked at collectively make a huge difference.
At my core I am still the same girl before getting married, then referred to as Josie Hutchinson.  But who I am and what I am becoming today is different.  Becoming a stronger woman, co-captain, cheerleader and improving communicator as a wife.
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Marriage takes a lot of work.  It’s not always perfect and it will change you.  For me, these changes were not expected or realized until after they happened.  But collectively make up who I am, Mrs. Josie Ahlquist.
I’ll just say it, I got lucky.  If this post didn’t make it obvious, I am head over heels crazy about my husband.  The endless laughter he surrounds me with, sacrifices he takes on to support our family and, as cheesy as it sounds, is my very best friend.
Happy Anniversary to my Lloyd, my love, my rock, my superman.  
Becoming your wife was more than this small town girl could have ever dreamed.  I’ll be your trustee sidekick now and for always.  
Together we can do anything.

About Josie

I’m Dr. Josie Ahlquist—a digital engagement and leadership consultant, researcher, educator, and author. I’m passionate about helping people and organizations find purposeful ways to connect, engage, and tell their unique story. I provide consulting, executive coaching, and training for campuses, companies, and organizations that want to learn how to humanize technology tools and build effective and authentic online communities.

My blog and podcast have been recognized by EdTech Magazine, Inside Higher Ed and the Chronicle of Higher Education. My book, Digital Leadership in Higher Education, was published in 2020 and was listed as a #1 new release for college and university student life. I have been growing my consultancy since 2013 and am based in Los Angeles. When I’m not helping clients lead online, you might find me training for a triathlon, spoiling my nieces and nephews, or exploring with my husband and our rescue dogs in our new RV called Lady Hawk.

I’d love to connect! Find me on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Facebook.

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Rebekah Tilley

Assistant Vice President, University of Iowa Center for Advancement

Rebekah Tilley is the assistant vice president of communication and marketing for the University of Iowa Center for Advancement (UICA). In that role she supports fundraising and alumni engagement efforts for the university, including its CASE Gold winning Iowa Magazine, and serves UICA in a variety of strategic communication efforts.

Previously she was the director of strategic communication for the University of Iowa Tippie College of Business, and the director of communication for the University of Kentucky College of Law. She is a Kentucky native and a proud alum of the University of Kentucky.

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