Marriage & An Anniversary

Marriage & An Anniversary

Today is my 20th wedding anniversary to this guy.

To say that I feel lucky doesn’t begin to tell the whole story.

We met at a Christmas party on Christmas Day in 1998. Neither of us were expecting to meet the person that would completely change our lives, and yet, that’s exactly what happened. I was 38 years old and had pretty much given up on the idea of marriage, children and everything that comes with that. Ours was not a conventional story: meet, date, fall in love, get married, have children, blissfully live happily ever after.

Our wedding ~ December 22, 2000

Right from the beginning life threw boulders our way, but clamber over them we did, over and over. And, now, here we are. We have worked hard, really, really hard for the happiness and love we now enjoy together. It hasn’t been easy. In fact, there were times that were so painful we didn’t know if we’d make it through, but we did. And the one thing both of us kept doing over and over again was to show up, no matter how tough things got, we kept showing up. We were willing to work on ourselves, on our relationship, and now, more than two decades later we are enjoying that “honeymoon period” people talk about.

In Bermuda

One of the single most important lessons I’ve learned from these last 22 years is to appreciate everything, the little things, the big things, everything. So, for example, when I wake up in the morning (being a morning person, my husband is still asleep) and go out to feed the cat and make my morning tea, I notice my husband has emptied the dishwasher. He always empties the dishwasher. It would be easy not to notice. It would be easy to dismiss this fact, just one of countless things he does to make our lives (my life) a little easier and nicer. And then I might notice how he’s taken the cat dish and put it in the sink to soak over night, so that I’m not left with an encrusted cat dish to scrub out, and while I’m at it, I might also notice my laundry that is neatly folded and sitting in a little pile for me or the garbage that he took out the day before or the mail that he brought in or the little list we keep of things we need to do or get and he’s added something to it, something we will undoubtedly get together or how he makes our bed every morning after he wakes or the card he’s written commemorating our anniversary, because he remembers and commemorates all the holidays and every event that is, in any way meaningful, or, or, or… and those are just the little things, there are big things, huge things, personal things requiring tremendous courage and hard work, stripping away layers and layers of childhood trauma, things from our past that we needed to deal with individually and together so that we could show up for each other in kind and loving ways, consistently and without hesitation.

Glacier Ice Cave in Iceland

Years ago, okay probably more like 15 years now, we saw a marriage counselor who told us to list all the things the other person had done right. It was an exercise in appreciation; simple, yet incredibly powerful. I hate to admit that I needed someone to suggest I do this, but I did. Being a critical thinker it is easy for me to see what’s wrong, harder to see all that is right. And now, we see what’s right everyday without trying or consciously reminding ourselves to do so, it just comes naturally (most days). On the days it’s more difficult, I remind myself to do so. Which isn’t to say that we never disagree or fight, we do, but we show up until the conflict is resolved or at least until there’s been some understanding that we’ve been able to reach together.

This morning we did our “reading” together, just as we always do. Each morning we read an excerpt from something and then discuss. Today’s reading was, “For it’s disgraceful for an old person, or one in sight of old age, to have only the knowledge carried in their notebooks.” Zeno

We discussed the wisdom we have gained and fought so hard for and again I was reminded of how much I appreciate this man who just 22 years ago I would soon meet. This man who has changed the trajectory of my life, in myriad ways and whom I appreciate and love more today than when we first married. Which reminds me of another quote we read recently from an anonymous person, “There isn’t enough darkness in all the world to snuff out the light of one little candle.” And as I sat next to this man that I love more than I ever imagined possible, I thought of how grateful I am to get another day with him and then I thought about how one little candle flickering in the darkness, when joined by other little candles become a beam of light.

My husband, partner, best friend, hero, knight in shining armor, and beam of light.

A Commitment to Show Up

A Commitment to Show Up

I’ve been thinking about relationships a lot. Perhaps that’s because I’m coming up on my 20th wedding anniversary with this awesome man. Our relationship has seen its ups and downs, but we are committed to doing the hard work of showing up for each other no matter how painful and difficult that may be. As a result we have entered into, what I think of as, our golden years together. I love this man more today than those first few years when we met and decided to have children together. I am well aware of how fortunate I am, it helps that he is as committed as I am, and is also funny, smart, kind, thoughtful, complicated, a great dad, a great friend and all around amazing human being.

Or maybe I’m thinking about relationships because it’s the holiday season when we typically fly to Colorado to visit my mother and sister, but because of the pandemic are unable to do so or maybe it’s because this year has thrown a couple of relationships into stark relief. I have had to come to terms with the fact that a few were not what I thought and others that have only reaffirmed how wonderful they are. I’m grateful for the lessons I’ve learned from both.

I’ve mentioned before that my husband and I start the morning reading something, usually something philosophical or a meditation of some kind. This morning’s reading began with a quote:

There are two equally dangerous extremes – to shut reason out, and to let nothing else in.

Blaise Pascal

When I’m stitching the magical moments come when things just flow from one idea to the next – easily, magically. But there are other moments when everything I stitch feels wrong. Color is often at issue. If my base color is one that I don’t find particularly appealing, then everything I subsequently do can feel off simply because the base color isn’t one that speaks to me. The trick is finding the magic even then.

As many of you who follow me on Youtube know, I’ve been struggling with my latest improvisational piece. It uses a flesh-colored hand dyed piece of linen as its base, and it’s been problematic for me since I took that first stitch. Still, I’m determined to continue, if for no other reason than as an exercise in working through the myriad issues that are coming up for me. And what I’m learning is that if I’m committed to something, really committed, I am willing to have the difficult conversations, I’m willing to hang in there even when things get problematic, I’m willing to keep showing up. And when I do that, something magical always happens. (Of course if we’re talking about two people then BOTH people have to be willing. It won’t work if only one person is willing and the other isn’t.)

With the piece shown above, this is the magical moment that occurred a few days ago. I don’t know that it’s enough to shift this piece from an exercise, into something that I’m able to fully embrace, but I’m getting there and I’m going to keep showing up for it and see what happens!

Marriage & An Anniversary

#StayAtHome aka When Will it End & Other Musings

New Yorkers are a resourceful group for the most part, but we are also impatient, easily distracted, and busy. We are very, very busy. Don’t ask us what’s our hurry, you’ll be met with a bleary-eyed scowl of contempt. Don’t believe me? Ever walked down a street in mid-town Manhattan in the middle of the day? Everyone is rushing. People dart, purposefully, in and out of any who seem to have all the time in the world – aka tourists. You take your life in your hands just to walk a few blocks. At least this was the case before. Before #stayathome was a thing. Before our streets looked like this…

You can always tell the New Yorker from the rest of the pedestrians. We’re the ones who are waiting for the light to change like race horses out of the starting gate, jockeying for position, ensuring we’re the first to begin crossing seconds before the light actually changes, because that’s what we do. It’s in our blood. Even those of us who weren’t born and raised in New York City, that need to get across the street before the rest of the pack, and don’t kid yourself, it is a need; it’s part of our DNA. It’s probably what attracted us to NYC in the first place.

So telling us that we must stay home, not for weeks, but for months and months, that we mustn’t venture out unless we are in need of something essential, which might explain the run on toilet paper (for actual reasons see note below) merely an excuse to leave the house – is cruel and unusual punishment. Picture a race horse cooped up in a tiny stall for months on end and you’ll get a good idea of what it’s like for NYers. By the way, race horses are routinely given small animals to placate them, like a goat, sheep or chicken and though we’re not allowed to keep such animals in our homes here in New York City, dog walking has never seemed more enticing and exciting.

Which also explains why a trip to Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s feels like a thrilling adventure. My husband and I refer to it as a “date”. As in, “hey honey, want to go out?” And the other responds, “Absolutely, which will it be?”

“I was thinking of shaking things up!”

“Oh, really?!!”

“What do you say we head over to Gristede’s just to take a look.”

“Going downmarket, are we?”

“I can do Wholefoods, just thought it’d be fun to spread the love.”

“Absolutely! Gristede’s will be fun!”

And off we go, hand in hand, reveling in our courage and sheer inventiveness to try new things, still, after so many decades of marriage.

This is what the lockdown has done to us. We are a changed group. New Yorkers, known for their edginess are becoming downright pedestrian. We wear sweatpants and wander around in slippers, our hair unbrushed, sometimes for days. When we venture out we stroll, no longer needing to rush, we stop in the middle of the street to take photographs of flowers and our city, now unrecognizable. We smile at each other, even stop to chat with complete strangers. We even wave to our neighbors. People we’ve never exchanged two words with, we now know their names and the names of their children and pets. We know intimate details about each other, such as whether we tested positive for antibodies. I’m telling you, it’s a changed world…

*Fun Fact: I did a little research and learned that one of the main reasons there continues to be a run on TP is due to the fact that everyone is now at home and not going into their offices, which stock an inferior type of TP, versus the coveted TP most of us prefer. Evidently the machines producing the inferior, industrial brand TP are different from the machines churning out the more luxurious, cushiony and soft TP we use at home and therefore the production is not able to keep up with demand. For those of you wanting to know more –