Happy Anniversary to Me!

As 2015 marks the year of my fifth wedding anniversary, I find my mind wandering over the past ten years of life with my husband. He came into my life when I was not even remotely interested in beginning something new. I had been bullied throughout my teens, leaving my confidence fragile and wounds that ran deep in my psyche. I had barely left a relationship that took me three (if not more) years to work up the courage to end. That relationship happened during a period of my life where exponential personal growth allowed me to tentatively take my first few steps into adulthood, and I had the misguided idea that I owed my ex for this journey. Once I realized the answer was in me all along (and clicked my heels three times), I was ready to fly. I was a chronic relationship girl ready to step into my own, and a husband was not on my radar in the slightest!

According to Brian, he had interest in me long before I knew who he was. We worked together at a local gym, and I knew his father and brother long before I knew of his existence. The men in his family were known to be charming, attractive and trouble (or so I was told, and a fact they proudly endorse). Still, much to my chagrin, a few upside down push up’s (he was an irritatingly fit meathead) and some persistent friends forced me to consider a date with Brian. I did not take our time together seriously at all. I was having fun, and I refused to let some macho big mouth deter me. We spent a year or so alternating between intense magnetism and extreme dislike. We took turns calling each other on the other’s bull shit. I am not a gambler, but looking back we repeatedly went all in on a regular basis.

About a year and a half into our on-again-off-again drama, Brian’s grandfather passed away. Without thinking, I dropped everything to be by his side. I witnessed his grief, and experienced firsthand how deep his love ran. I was in awe at how large his community was, and realized then how profound his impact on others truly was. Decades long friendships were a testament to his character. Slowly, I began to realize this loud, hot-tempered, cocky man who was fun to party with was weaseling his way into my heart. I’d like to say it was happily every after from there, but of course we had lots of growing pains left to overcome. We loved as hard as we fought. Our highs were the brightest of the bright and our lows the most painful pangs my heart has experienced. We frustrated our friends and family, who couldn’t keep up with our temperamental and fickle hearts.  

Day after day, I saw him interacting with his personal training clients (who were often little old ladies) and was amazed at how he  treated everyone with the same level of respect, whether the CEO of a million dollar company or a random stranger who had fallen on the side of the road who he pulled over and jumped out to pick up and give a ride to (yes, that actually happened). Week after week, I met more and more of his friends and family, astounded that one person could actually know as many people as he did. Time and time again, they would pull me aside to tell me how I had “the good one”, how Brian was the kindest, most genuine friend, brother, son, cousin, uncle, co-worker they knew. 

Despite all the drama, one thing that never wavered was dedication and commitment to our roller coaster love. We both share old-fashioned ideals about marriage that clicked for us from day one. There was no giving up on us. We had an unspoken bond that drew us together over and over.  If we had a fight, we duked it out. Of course, sometimes one of us walked away with more bruises (emotional, not literal) than the other, but over time the intense extremes became less. We learned how to communicate, how to compromise, how to forgive, and how to grow together. We held each other accountable and didn’t let each other shy away from doing the tough emotional work. We shared the load together, and when one of us stumbled the other we carried the load for us both.

After moving into our home, my husband and I undertook the task of opening boxes that hadn’t been opened since prior to us getting together. To my delight, my husband uncovered a list he made for himself years before meeting me. He and I have a shared history of being hopeless romantics who allowed our hearts to be dragged through the mud for the sake of other’s happiness. After a particularly rough ending for him, he decided to get clear on his vision of a perfect partner. He wrote in great detail what he wanted, poured all his soul into this project, and put it away. Manifesting through writing, intention and visions boards are a relatively new practice for us, and the universe has amazed me yet again that so long ago he instinctually knew how to ask for what he needed in his life. Miraculously, his list described me in stunning detail.

This sparked a memory of a similar list I created long ago. My love of romance has been in my blood since before birth. I came into this world knowing that I would experience a great love. My heart searched frantically for it. Of course, as a teenager and young adult who was naïve to the world, this led to MANY missteps and mistakes. But through all the heart break, I always knew I’d get right back in the saddle because my love was out there and he was waiting. I’d love to say I found my list, but I have not. However, I actually remember a lot of it clearly. Of course my love would be rich, tall, handsome, charming, kind, etc, etc. I distinctly remember at one point deciding his name would be “Brian” because that was a “hot guy’s name”. Obviously I had my priorities straight.

The best gift my husband has given me is genuine, unabashed love and the decision to choose that love over and over. We are literally that couple that you want to hate but can’t (mostly because my husband is so damn charming). I joke often how Brian has a knack of making people instantly his best friend, and he can often be seen at gatherings with a trail of enamored children hanging on his every silly joke. Friends exclaim to me regularly about how “amazing” he is, and I always jab him with a “Yeah, I don’t really see it”. But the truth is I see it every day. There is not a day that goes by that he doesn’t love me with his whole heart and soul. Even on my worst days, he grits his teeth and rides it out with me. He is the definition of a partner. He is my loudest cheerleader, and taught me to never give up. He pushes me to follow my dreams, wipes my tears and challenges the negative voices in my head trying to hold me back. He has patiently soothed old wound after old wound, sometimes without even realizing the wounds were there. He brings me out of my shell, and encourages me to put my bravest face forward even when I am terrified of what others might think. I will even admit that all his lame, tired jokes that I’ve heard a million times still make my heart happy because they are a part of him. 

Until you have met him, you will not fully grasp what it means to be known by him. His gift to the world is to find value and grace in each experience. He lives life with reckless abandon, and will give you his whole heart and the shirt off his back. He laughs easily and loves deeply. He is one of those people in life where even just the briefest encounter with him leaves you feeling as if you have just experienced something magical.

Happy Anniversary to my partner, my friend, my love. Thank you for choosing me to share this journey. Thank you for seeing my completeness and raising it to heights I didn’t think possible. From the depths of my heart and soul, I love you.

With Gratitude,

Your Wife

Service to Others

“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” Mahatma Gandhi

My favorite client sessions are the ones where I am stopped in my tracks. I love to learn from my clients, and am often in awe of their insights and experiences of the world. We all live on the same planet, but how we live, grow, love, hurt, laugh, weep and so much more are unique to each of us. Therapists are not experts. We don’t hold some magic key or hidden wisdom that solves all of life’s problems. So moments in which we too can grow, learn and experience the greatest depths and highs of humanity are gifts that I find myself cherishing.

Recently I sat with a client in a particularly “easy” session. This client and I have been working together for a year, and she has been in therapy off and on before me. She views therapy as a support, a place where she can come and vent, have a sounding board and charge her batteries. Like many of my clients, this client is a care taker. She spends much of her energy raising her beautiful children, being a loving wife and business owner. She came to me already possessing astounding insight and an arsenal of “coping skills”, and has a huge support network of loving friends and family. She is highly intuitive, and channels much of her connection through her Catholic faith and prayer. 

When I was young, I naturally distinguished for myself a difference between “religion” and “faith”. I’ve always had faith on some level, and find that organized religions that support extremists and black and white thinking make me squeamish. In the wrong hands, these rigid views can breed hate and discrimination. I enjoy eclectic and Eastern-based inclusive philosophies, and love exploring the field of energy therapy and non-traditional concepts. When I cross paths with those who align deeply with traditional religions, I have an immediate gut-reaction of judgement and wariness. I have come to be conditioned to equate this with negativity, and I see this same discomfort reflected around me daily in others. 

My experience with her, however, finally connected some dots that have been hovering below the surface of my psyche. This client has such a strong relationship with and confidence in her faith, she often says things like “I just prayed to Jesus, and I knew he would provide”. This verbiage generally triggers cringe-worthy responses in me, but bear with me because this is not about holding onto old beliefs! In our session today, she noted how in recent weeks she struggled to overcome patterns of negative thinking (terms I am super comfortable with), and during a particularly moving service at her church, while in prayer she received the guidance “Your faith and strength can move mountains”. In the days following, the client was able to reframe experiences and reconnect to her higher self in such amazing ways. One example was when she felt particularly disconnected and unsupported, she accepted a position as a “greeter” and suddenly realized she had found a way to manifest or create the connection to others she had been missing. Her take home message? “This life is not about me. I am here to give back, to serve others, and that’s when I find peace.”

I sat with these insights for the rest of our session, and the rest of my day. I reflected on the beauty of universal truths, and was amazed by the intricate dance we do every day. Her empathy, intuition and the beauty of her selflessness humbled me. I felt ashamed for my snap judgements, not only with her, but towards others who possess such resolute faith. The truth was that it unnerved me so much because I lacked the completeness of faith they unwaveringly held. I could sense something “greater”, but my “black and white” brain needed more “facts” to truly let go and trust. As I released my definition of faith and spirituality, I received more. As she gave herself up to service and universal energy, she received more. While I was so busy avoiding her world, and she avoiding mine (i.e. energy work and intuition as she believes it to be against her faith), we had unknowingly stumbled upon the same concepts in a language we both spoke! Service to others, acting for the higher good.

In the face of global turmoil, hate and destruction, it’s important to seek out these moments of truth. We have to be willing to connect with humanity. We have to allow others in while releasing our judgements and expectations of others. We have to actively turn away from thoughts and behaviors that create separation and live in the faith of a higher purpose. We have to be willing to never stop learning, and trust the insights and messages as they are brought to us, in whatever form they come. Words can be powerful and healing, but taken too literally or concretely can create divides between us or foster hate that really amount to nothing but semantics.

Today I feel humbled and honored to receive such a gift from my client as she has helped me reaffirm my faith, and my desire to serve.

With gratitude,

 

*What beliefs have you held that limit you, whether currently or in the past?

*What would it take for you to release a belief that separates you from others?

*What has changed for the better after a time you release an old belief?

*In what ways are you in service to others?