Tag Archives: romance

I searched high and low…(Wednesday’s Wisdom)

‎”I read and walked for miles at night along the beach, writing bad verse and searching endlessly for someone wonderful who would step-out of the darkness and change my life. It never crossed my mind that person could be me.” ~Anna Quindlen, Writer (1953- )

I spent many years, walking through my life, thinking someone outside of me would/could change it. If I just found my prince… Isn’t that the draw in romantic movies? Isn’t it what (most of) the Disney princesses bank millions on? Most often, it is the female being “rescued” from her dreary existence, but on occasion, the man is “rescued” by the “perfect” woman.

In either event, we are enticed into believing that happiness is found outside ourselves, that our lives will be magically transformed when the “right one” comes along. Now, I love a good romantic movie just as much as the next gal, assuming I’m sitting next to my older daughter, not the 14 year-old, but there comes a point when these movies can be as toxic to our spirits as that theater popcorn is to our bodies. Hollywood rarely has the star end up alone, finding his/her own beauty and purpose. Nope, 9.5 times out of 10, the romantic leads end up together living “happily ever after.”

I remember the feelings I had when I was my daughter’s age, the flutters that came when watching a romantic movie, the secret desires to be “swept away.” And though I never saw myself married, I did (secretly) want a man to “whisk me away.” I wanted the fairy tale romance, for all the wrong reasons. I wanted to be whisked away from myself, thinking that would make me complete and change the loneliness I felt inside. I thought happiness existed outside of myself.  I bought into the fairy tales, hook, line and sinker. And then, I grew up.

Next month, my husband and I will celebrate 26 years as a couple together. I had left most of my unrealistic girlhood fantasies behind by the time we said, “I do”, and I will admit those that  those I carried into the marriage caused some bumps.  However, it wasn’t until my early 30’s that I (really) stopped expecting him to make me happy and started creating my own happiness. When we look outside ourselves, to a boy/girlfriend,  spouse, friend, child, or job to “fill us up and make us complete,” we search for treasure in an empty vault. Joan Didion once said, “The willingness to accept responsibility for one’s own life is the source from which self-respect springs.”  Only when we take complete and total ownership of our lives, our choices, and our happiness can we truly live “happily ever after.

However, this is often easier said than done. Like all journeys, learning to take charge of your life begins with one step, regardless of size. One step in the direction of the life you’ve dreamed about. One step out of the darkness and into your own happiness. One step.

Often times, our steps lead us away from the things that once made us feel happy or empowered. Life gets busy, or our partner doesn’t enjoy the same activities, or we land last on the list of “to-do’s” and rarely find the time to ___________.  And, often, we’ve simply forgotten what we liked before marriage, children, divorce, health problems, etc. Somewhere along the road, we lost sight of who we were…who we wanted to be…what made us happy. We may not even know who we really are today, outside of the roles that define us as wife, mother, sister, employee, volunteer, etc. Like the romantic lead on the big screen, we may simply be waiting for someone else to come along and change our lives for us.

Today is the day to take one step in the direction of your dreams. Begin by re-discovering who you were when you were young, before you dreamed of someone else “changing your life” for you.  Did you paint or draw? What was your favorite way to spend a day? Did you have a favorite author, food, color? Where did you go to be with yourself? What made you feel empowered? What would you be doing right now if you knew you couldn’t fail? Ask yourself questions. Get to know yourself, once again. And, above all, (as I’ve told my girls)

“Go out and be the kick-ass heroine (hero) in your own life!”

Please join the conversation. What one step will you take to change your life today?

What love looks like on an ordinary day.

Love on an ordinary day. (Prepping candy canes for the garden.)

When I was a young girl, I bought into the idea that “real love” was demonstrated by the grandiose gestures of diamonds and carriage rides. According to the movies and cheap romance novels (that I sneaked because they were banned in our house), the man always had the perfect compliment. The woman never struggled with her self-esteem. And, oddly, children were never around to mess up a moment of good passion. I thought I knew what love looked like on an ordinary day, not just the extraordinary days. Then, I grew up, fell in love, and entered reality.

On Thanksgiving afternoon, my younger daughter and my husband began the annual holiday excavation.  Together they uncovered and slid and pushed and carried boxes and boxes of Christmas decorations from the attic. The center of the garage was soon filled with towers of boxes that would transform our home into a Christmas wonderland. It took a couple of hours to pull everything down. The garage was cold; the attic was colder. Neither complained. They were enjoying their time together, just the two of them, working as a team. That’s what love looks like on an ordinary day.

As the boxes were shuffled about, C and I worked in the kitchen. It would be our first traditional Thanksgiving feast in over a dozen years– so many years, A doesn’t remember ever having one. Many years ago, in response to “What would you like on Thanksgiving?” my husband replied, “I don’t want you in the kitchen. Let’s just do appetizers all day.” It was the same the following year, and the year after that. And, a new tradition was born. For years, we have gathered in the living room over appetizers, games and puzzles. This year though, we decided to change things up and we gathered over turkey and mashed potatoes at a formally set dining table. The girls wanted to do it,  “the way Grandma would have done it.” A change which gave me the gift of some time alone with C, my almost grown daughter, who will be starting her own traditions someday soon. It was time to talk about college and the future and relationships and…life. That’s what love looks like on an ordinary day.

Yesterday, my husband, quiet as a Christmas mouse, began the stringing of the lights. Every year, he strings lights up and down the front of the house. He strings them across the backyard fence and across the cottage roof-line. He decorates the small deck off the dining room and places lighted decorations along the paths and in the died-off garden so that when I look out the window, I “get a pretty view, too. Not just the neighbors.”   He drags his ladder to and fro without so much as a whimper of complaint. He does it because he knows I like the lights. And, as he unwound, tested, and hung the lights, the girls and I unpacked boxes and reminisced and laughed together. Together, we prepared for the Christmas holiday. That’s what love looks like on an ordinary day.

Last night, my husband and I were scheduled for some “date time” while the girls had  plans for some fun “sister time.” (I love that they’re not just sisters, but truly best friends!) Leftovers sat on the counter, self-service buffet style. My battery was running low, the muscles in my back ached, and my head was toying with a headache. I sipped on a strong cup of coffee with the intention of actually being present during our date. In the other room, the girls and my husband watched an episode of “Psych” together. The coffee wasn’t working, but given the amount of coffee I am known to consume in a day, this should have been no surprise. I asked my husband if he would mind if I took a 20 minute cat-nap on the couch before we headed out. No objections, and despite the TV noise, I went out faster than I can type “o-u-t.” When their show ended, I was awakened by the noise of plates being rinsed and loaded into the dishwasher. I sat up and tried to find my bearings. I felt more “out of it” than I had before my nap, and it was barely 7. My husband looked at me, love in his eyes and said, “Let’s get you upstairs. There’s always tomorrow.” He kissed me goodnight and told me to just take care of myself as he turned out the light and headed back down to hang-out with “his girls.” That’s what love looks like on an ordinary day.

Sure, carriages and diamonds are nice, but “ordinary love” makes any day extraordinary.

What does love look like on an ordinary day in your life?