It has felt like a rough few weeks. A few days ago our water heater burst in our basement, ruining the floor, baseboards and some of the walls, and they found asbestos. Luckily we were home and not traveling, as the water heater was continuously refilling and emptying, it started in the middle of the night and we found it the next morning. We took this week off to recharge a bit, so starting Sunday morning using the wet vac to suck out the water, call plumbers for new water heaters, and the insurance company was not how I wanted to start a week of vacation. Additionally, most of Nico’s toys are downstairs and it is where we spend the most time with him.
I am not going to lie. I’ve been extremely frustrated and short. I had a plan for how we were going to spend the week. Day dates with Chris, sleeping in as much as Nico would let us, and definitely not waiting for contractors to come or sitting on the phone to find out the insurance process is extremely slow and frustrating.
And then…we take a moment and realize that the insurance company is slow and frustrating because they have been on the phone with families in California who have lost their homes. My heart goes out to those that have lost their homes and it is a startling reminder that the flooding in our basement while annoying and disruptive is not nearly as big of a deal when I think of all the families that may not have a home. Interesting how quickly things can be put in perspective.
A few weeks ago a good friend was attacked in the face by a stranger and may need to undergo reconstructive surgery to his face. It took me almost a week to process that this happened. My friend is extremely fit and definitely capable of taking care of himself and hearing about the experience made me realize how vulnerable we all are – which can be scary. As a woman I am always aware of when I am safe or not, and when I am alone at night how freaky it can be. To learn that someone I care about was hurt, and probably did not have a moment to react, makes me fearful, but also aware that we never really know what is going to happen next. If we live in fear then we are never really living. A group of friends that love him started this Go Fund Me to raise money for his recovery. Feel free to contribute if your heart desires. He is one of the really good ones, and always takes care of others.
Like I said it has been a rough few weeks (other things in addition to the water heater and my friend) but I will not bore you with the details. Instead I am hopeful that I am reminding you to look up and squeeze the hand of someone you love, give them a hug, tell your kid how much you appreciate and love them, or maybe it is a coworker that could use a little lift. We always have more than we realize even when the world throws curveballs our way. Just take a moment to see and be grateful for the little things even when they may be hardest to see.
I am not sure my parents really prepared me for all the curveballs that life has thrown at me starting at an early age. In some ways the curveballs have made me incredibly agile to which way to swing, when to duck, and when to let the ball pass right by me. That does not mean that all that movement and reaction is not exhausting, and it also does not mean that I have always reacted, or presented myself in the best of ways. I have high standards and expectations at work and in my personal life. Maybe my dad overly ingrained in my head: “Do it right the first time.” Now to me that does not mean only try once and get it right the first time. What it means in my mind is give it your all and keep at it until you get to where you are going.
“We can’t control what life throws our way, but we can control how we react to it. As we do, maybe we come closer to a meaningful life than any plan could ever take us. To do this, though, we have to let go of what we think we deserve and embrace what is, which just might lead to something better than we could have imagined.” Page xxvii
The part I love about the above quote is about letting go and letting ourselves be lead to something better than we could have imagined. While I have high standards I also have witnessed how taking a step back and listening to intuition allows for life to sometimes fall into place.
I will give you a tiny morsel from my day on Monday. All morning things kept changing — meetings moved, deadlines shifted, and when I tried to unravel it all it was just horribly frustrating and time-consuming. I kept (as often happens) getting pulled into other things and dealing with requests and the thought that came to me during it all was: ‘Let it go. you will figure it out later… as messed up as it all happens to feel right now.’ Later in the day when I had a moment to look at the mess, each conflict and deadline had actually all moved again and all the things I would have had to unravel were put in a place that worked out. I did not have to do anything other than respond to a few emails and accept moved meetings. No rearranging needed. Now — that does not mean that I think you should procrastinate or that my morsel of happenstance from Monday will occur all the time. What I honed in on from Monday is that I listened to my intuition to let it go for that time and it all worked out.
That is just a small moment in time. Think about what can happen if we let go more often, for the small and the large events in life, and let things naturally be designed in front of us. Somehow the universe has a way of bringing color, hope, and a graceful design that often surpasses what we can imagine for ourselves.
11 years of marriage. I cannot tell you that marriage is a perfect place. It is full of love, laughter, frustration, emotion, and so much more. I love almost every minute of it, because I am walking forward with Chris. More than being lovers and spouses we are best friends. A best friend that I can truly say anything to at any moment. He might not always like what comes out of my mouth, but at least it is the truth. Here are a few ideas of what I think are steps toward a happy marriage:
Go to bed together every night. If you cannot orchestrate that, then if one is going to bed before the other, come and tuck the other in. I know that might sound old school, or childish, but do it. It will make a difference. It is a way to connect at the end of a long day and allows your spouse to relax. Having said all that, Chris is the night owl and I rarely get to tuck him in. Better yet, what we often do is go to bed together, snuggle, and then the one that is not tired gets to read and/or catch up on episodes of their favorite TV show on the iPad. A win-win situation.
Tell each other what you think as much as possible.
Try not to snap or react. Sometimes we are grumpy, have a poopy day, and we snap. Okay to be fair, Chris is WAY more patient then I am, and I snap way more often than he does. Do not take it personally. You know when your pants feel too tight and you plop down on the floor of the closest ready to explode with tears? Be there for each other at those moments. I know, I know 99% of the time it is the woman sitting on the floor. So to all those husbands out there. Sit down next to your wife and listen to her emotions, her hormones. Just love her immensely on those days.
Eat together at your kitchen table. Do it without your iWHATEVER device, your DVR, or Netflix. Absorb those moments together. We do not do it often enough, but when we do if makes life feel so different. Sad, but true.
Communicate, communicate, communicate. Just because you might have been with and lived with someone for 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 years does not mean that you should ever stop communicating. I should have made this point first because to me it is by far one of the most important aspects of marriage. Talk it out. Share what is on your mind. Listen. Discuss and resolve.
A happy marriage. No prescription. Just start with respect, love, and a listening ear. It is all up to both of you.