Category Archives: Stories that Define Me

Sometimes, you just realize.

Sometimes, the seemingly smallest things stop you dead in your tracks, and make you realize what a crazy, amazing, blessed life you have.

Something as small as this – a promotion Facebook did to celebrate their sixth birthday – creating a video of your first and biggest moments on Facebook, and I sit here in a puddle of tears, in awe, over what the last six years has brought me, and conversely, what I have made of it.

…my first moments on Facebook include my beautiful Nala and Kayla, seeing Nala as the very first picture made me cry right away, I miss her so, but equally love that this was the start of my six years. Because soon after was when I began my journey, and where my kitties became my companions, my support, my laughter, when I was sad, when I was alone, when I was learning to be myself again.

…one of my more popular posts was this one, from September 2012: “I am pretty sure I am the luckiest girl alive – with M” the day after our engagement. Even in that less than two years, and less than 4 since we met and married, that statement couldn’t be more true then, or now.

…my most popular posts were our ‘surprise‘ marriage, and becoming homeowners. Both of those have me beaming with pride, love and blessings.

It’s so funny how something as ‘trivial’ as a social media gimmick to promote Facebook’s ‘birthday’ has me sitting here in stunned silence. The last six years have been nothing short of life-changing forever. From a then 28 year old married woman who knew nothing about herself, to a divorced 29 year old starting fresh and from scratch, in quite literally every way, from home, to finances, to self, to body, to love, to today, 34 years old, married to the love of my life and in what could very well be our ‘forever’ home, and I am feeling unbelievably blessed.

e86a3f50e69e0d14be3b5948c851da5fSometimes it truly is just taking a step back and reminding yourself where you came from, where you are today, and where you can go from here. The possibilities are endless.

Stories that Define Me: on friendship.

*This is the seventh in my mini-series on stories of my past that define me. I’ll write these periodically, as the ideas flow. Enjoy.*

M remarked to me recently that he feels like I have SO MANY friends. Especially compared to him, as he considers just a few close friends as just that: friends.

I found his statement interesting, because I  too consider myself to have a handful of close friends as well as a circle of all of YOU in this home I’ve cultivated here that truly ‘get’ me. That don’t make me feel compelled to compromise, to censor myself, to walk on eggshells, to feel short-changed. Real, solid, friends. Sister-friends, if you will.

Let’s start at the beginning. 

My very first best friend was a girl I met in Kindergarten. Her name is Tali (and yes, we still keep in touch, though, relatively loosely as she is a missionary in Guatemala and Haiti!) and to this day, I truly believe she is who ‘taught’ me how to have a sense of humor. And to cultivate my own sense of humor, with a dash of wit and sarcasm. She is, to this day, still one of the funniest people I know (and actually, now that I think about it, her humor mirrors M’s quite a bit. I bet they’d get along so well…). But beyond humor, she ‘got’ me, even back when we were 6 or 7 years old. We had each other’s back at the playground, we stood up for each other, and we were always together. She is also one of the first friends I made that I felt was ‘my’ friend and not ‘our’ friend (given my sisters and I shared virtually all of the same friends, often, they were ‘our’ friend, not Jess’s or Jen’s or mine, but Tali? Was my friend first and foremost).

Tali and I stayed close friends all the way through middle school and into high school, even after we were no longer classmates (after fourth grade). But what united us was the ability to pick up where we left off, even if it were one month, one year, or even more. There were never apologies needed. There was never the need to feel like you ‘owed’ each other a reason why it had been awhile since we’d last gotten together. Life simply happens, and when you can keep in touch and get together when you can and really value that time together? That’s friendship. 

And that friendship and what I learned from her over all of those years (reuniting once again after my divorce, and talking all through that, and talking all about her own love and life experiences) really set the tone for what I deem the friendship foundation: mutual respect, love, give-and-take, and simply for it to be effortless. For you both to WANT to make the time for each other, to make each other a priority. To honor each other’s life paths and goals and desires. To listen, and not always immediately advise, or provide an opinion. To laugh. Friendship is happiness, and when it is no longer happy, friendships evolve

It took me a long time to realize that friendships evolve and that it’s okay if you come to a point where you realize that you have outgrown a friendship, or that friendship is no longer enjoyable for you, or for them. Where there is more strife, tension and negativity, than laughs, caring and respect.

The friendships I hold dear to me now are those that I consider sister-friends, that ‘get’ me, that understand why I live my life the way that I do, in every single way. Because that’s exactly how I treat those friends as well. Respect what they do, love them for who they are, and that friendship will thrive for as long as it’s meant to.

On marriage: more than ‘just’ a piece of paper

**The fourth in my mini-series on marriage. I am exploring why I want it (or trying to), what goes into a successful marriage, and snippets of conversations M and I have had on this very topic**

Marriage is more than ‘just’ a piece of paper.

For those of you that didn’t know me when I was married, for me to say this now and truly believe it…telling.

Because when I got married, I don’t think I truly believed in marriage and what it stands for. I saw it more as a formality, as the next ‘logical’ step in our (then) 7-year relationship. I pish-poshed the rituals of the engagement party, bridal shower, the whole nine yards wedding. I got married with none of my family or friends nearby. When we said our vows overlooking the waters of Kauai, I distinctly remember thinking ‘I should be more emotional. I should be crying. Or something. This should feel different. And powerful. And ‘us.’ But instead? It felt lonely (as I’ve said before). And it did feel like ‘just’ a piece of paper afterwards. We were happy, but we weren’t any *more* happy because we were married (not that I think that it’s like a light switch, suddenly your now-marriage is perfect puppies and rainbows, but there is something to be said for the ‘honeymoon period’ for a reason, right?!).

As these words flow from my fingertips…I am actually surprised at what I’m revealing. And the revelations I am uncovering through this post and this series, overall. I think my disbelief in marriage and what it stands for was one of several underlying reasons why our marriage ultimately failed. Because my ex-husband had this very same view…marriage is ‘just’ a piece of paper.

But now? I think in order for marriage to succeed, both have to believe that there is a reason to get married. That it’s not just a ‘logical’ step. That we want to publicly commit to each other (hopefully) for a lifetime. And put in the commitment necessary to make it succeed. Now, I am not saying that I suddenly ‘believe’ in the big white puffy dress fairy tale that so many do as they grow up, but I do know this: if/when M and I marry, we will be surrounded by our close family. Where/when/how/what is still up for debate, but making this commitment with our families there is important to me. For the very first time.

Because, it’s not just a piece of paper anymore. It’s purposeful. It is filled with intent. And it is a commitment I am ready to make. When the time comes.

~~~

For now, this is the end of my ‘on marriage’ series, though there may be more of these down the road…ya know, when the time comes (wink). Writing this series has been an incredibly eye-opening experience for me. Because with each topic that comes to mind, I actually have had no idea what I was going to write, until I wrote it. Free-flowing. Stream of conscious. I urge you…if there is something you are trying to work through, like me, and my thoughts on marriage and what I want it to look like, write it out. It truly makes it all come together.

On marriage: never sliding into complacency

**The third in my mini-series on marriage. I am exploring why I want it (or trying to), what goes into a successful marriage, and snippets of conversations M and I have had on this very topic**

I think one of my biggest fears when it comes to marriage is sliding into complacency. Looking back on my previous marriage, I think that is ultimately what did us in. It’s like a silent ‘killer’ of sorts, that isn’t easily seen until it’s (sometimes) too late. So now, I am hyper aware to it, almost too hyper aware to it, in a way. Overanalyzing my (or M’s actions) and worrying about getting too comfortable and worse, complacent.

And I think complacency can mean several things.

Complacency in showing each other love. Whether this is intimacy, a touch, a hug, a kiss. It’s easy to just go through the motions, rather than to stop whatever you are doing in that moment and focus on just them. Just that hug. Just that kiss. Nothing else matters. Back to the very first touch or kiss or hug. The magic of it. Keeping that alive, while hard to do all the time, at a minimum, being present in the moment of a loving gesture goes a thousand miles further than a kiss out of habit. (it goes back to can’t-wait-ing too…not rush, rush, rush through it all. Focus. BE. Presence.).

Complacency in fostering your relationship. As I said in a previous post, marriage (and any longstanding relationship for that matter!) is not ‘set it and forget it.’ It takes work. It takes dedication. It takes commitment. And most of all, it takes time. When things are going smoothly, it’s REALLY easy to just go with that. And for it to feel good and normal. But I challenge you…is normal *good?* Or is it borderline complacency? I tend to think it borders complacency. Our relationships should always be challenging and growing and (re)freshed. It should never be the same. This is what I want my marriage to look like. A challenge. (in a good way)

Complacency in spoken words of love. M is very good at spoken words of love. And I am not. I show, he speaks (and shows!). I tell him that I love him all the time but he is just so good at the unexpected words of love when I need it most (like the other day!). It’s something I am working on and something I think is so very important. To tell them him that I love that he always compliments me at moments I need it most, or that he calmly takes the trash out even when I pile it high (and I get the eye roll) and that he makes a mean scrambled egg. The #littlethings that he does. In addition to the big ones. I just assume that he knows. But why should I assume and why should he just know? I know I love to hear it, and I think he does too. But it’s easy to fall back into the habit of showing, not saying. Complacency. I’m working on it.

Complacency. This is a huge one for me. And I think being hyper aware of it helps, but doesn’t mean I still don’t catch myself falling into it sometimes.

What about you? What do you think complacency means in a marriage or relationship?

Stories that Define Me: On being ‘alone’ vs. being lonely.

*This is the sixth in my mini-series on stories of my past that define me. I’ll write these periodically, as the ideas flow. Enjoy.*

***

I wrote this post for Emma over at Divorced Before 30 a few months ago…but for some reason, feel compelled to repost it here, as a story that has defined me. Because I don’t think there is a day that goes by where I don’t embrace being alone, to some extent, and look back at where embracing this came from. As I near closer and closer to three years since my divorce began, I can’t help but continue reflecting on how it has shaped me and how I still learn from that time, every single day.

(and to be honest, this distinction between being alone and being lonely doesn’t *just* apply to those that are divorced, I think it’s one of those universal truths that we all need to embrace…embrace being alone. Celebrate it. Truly appreciate it.)

***

Being Alone vs. Lonely

One of the biggest things I learned as I went through my separation and divorce was the difference between being alone and being lonely.

I found that as much as I feared being lonely, I was more afraid of being alone, and for how long I might theoretically be alone before finding love again. I remember how often my mind would just want to skip and jump ahead to the part where I was no longer alone and no longer hurting. To the part about being in love and looking back on the ‘bad’ as a distant memory.

It is the ‘fast forwarding’ in my brain to ‘the good parts’ that I think was more detrimental than actually just accepting my situation for what it was. 29. Divorcing. Short selling my home. Starting over…alone.…and, yes, from scratch, in just about every way possible, but the difference being seeing that as a positive. A mindset shift. Seeing my situation as an opportunity to shape my destiny, and who I wanted to be after all is said and done.

And truth is, had I not experienced being alone, I would never have learned how to be comfortable with being alone, not to mention actually embrace it. And embrace it I soon learned to do!

Settling into my very first apartment, living alone, also for the first time in my life…I remember looking around and realizing, wow, everything in this apartment? Is MINE. And ONLY mine. There is a huge sense of pride in that feeling, and to this day, I look back on that time in my life and am so proud of myself, for learning to live by myself, sleep alone (a scary thing to me previously!) and do things by myself. But that soon became empowering, and fun, and a way to step out of my comfort zone and push myself. Because every time I did that, gotuncomfortable, I learned. I stretched. I grew.

And being alone, doing things alone and experiencing that? I never once felt lonely. Because I had learned to embrace being alone and saw it differently than being lonely. To me, lonliness can be more easily rectified than being alone.  And if you are afraid to be alone, I firmly believe you somehow are more closed (than you think!) to those around you, potential mates and friends, even.

You gotta be comfortable with being alone in order to truly open yourself up to what you may want most…love and companionship. Once I truly embraced and loved being alone? I met M. And the rest, as they say, is history.

So, I challenge you…separate being ‘alone’ and being ‘lonely.’ Get comfortable with being alone. You’ll be surprised at what you learn.

EMBRACE it.