life is good

Life is good…

Posted on February 20, 2009. Filed under: life is good |

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Do you know the “Life is Good” line of products?  They’re quite popular here in my part of the country and early in my relationship with the mister, I thought of them all the time.  I’d come out of a nasty breakup (with a coworker *knocking myself upside the head*), was living in a city where I didn’t know anyone, and was in the middle of negotiations for a new role at work (awesome, but nerve-wracking).

I met my guy, and I thought, “Man, life is good” way more often than I deserved.

Then we started renovating a house, bought another house, moved, talked about marriage, got engaged, got a puppy, dealt with job tension, tried to plan a wedding… in short, we were living life in super speed without many relationship skills yet developed.  I didn’t think “life is good” very often at all anymore.

As of today, we are approximately 90 days from our wedding day, and I’m thrilled to report that I’m thinking that life is good, really good, once again.  What changed?  I don’t know.  It certainly didn’t happen all at once, I’ll tell you that much.  I learned not to yell, he got better at offering help without being asked, we both grew up a bit more.  I remembered that I’m here by choice and finally let go of any resentment I had at the choices I made to stay with my guy and build a family.  I’m closer to forgiving myself for mistakes made in my past.  I’m remembering to hold my tongue and not lash out when I’m hurt.  He’s apologizing better and checking in with me more often.

This engagement period was very important for me.  Not easy, and not really fun, but definitely necessary.  When we first got engaged, I didn’t “get” the point of engagement (something I’ve blogged about more than once), thinking it a byproduct of the need to plan and pay for an event rather than what it is: a rite of passage giving you time to accept and heal as you close one chapter and prepare for the next.  I had a lot of healing and accepting to do!

With 90-ish days to go, I’m over the hump, on the home stretch, rarin’ and ready to go.  Rather than feeling frustration, tension, and pressure, I feel excited – the kind of excited that balls up in your throat and makes you giggle.  When I think, “wedding,” I see my husband holding my hands and pledging himself to our newly formed family, I see the smiles of our people as they offer their support, I see candlelight and hear laughter and smell warm summer air on my guy’s skin.

A, ha!  This is what being engaged is supposed to feel like!

So, take heart, dear friends.  If you’re not feeling giddy and excited, or if that feeling left you soon after the question was popped (probably around the first time you were asked about your wedding colors!), hang tight.  Don’t try to fight the panic, the worry, the nervousness or the sorrow; if it’s there, it’s necessary.  You will get through it, but there aren’t any shortcuts.

And then we can giggle like fools together!

How are the late May/ early summer brides feeling right now?

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Learning lessons everywhere

Posted on February 19, 2009. Filed under: life is good |

We have a puppy.

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And he’s a boy. 🙂

Well, to be accurate, we had a puppy who is now a rather handsome adolescent dog (I’m a proud mama).

Indiana Jones Jr. (What? It was the first movie we ever saw together!) has been incredibly helpful in teaching me skills for life, as I hear dogs are wont to do.

I struggle with the idea of being a team, my guy and I. In what I’m willing to call a flare of arrogance, I want to be perfect all by myself, so I tend to look at him as an aspirational example rather than a partner. Said another way, if what I love about him is that he’s funny, I try to be funnier rather than appreciate that he balances my seriousness.

Back to the dog. I’m the dog trainer, strategy researcher, curriculum creator, put-the-foot-and-lay-the-law-DOWN one. My guy is the resident playmate, puppy chaser, dog wrestler, rile-him-all-up one. Today it whacked me over the head that we’re the perfect pair. {My epiphanies often take the form of a rather violent smack upside the head.}

Without me, Indy Poopyhead Jones would have no manners. We’d be covered in muddy pawprints, stinky dog drool, and cat-poop dog breath. We’d be nipped and licked and sniffed in all sorts of uncomfortable ways. And we’d be unceremoniously stuffing a quickly growing dog into a crate on a regular basis, or using our bodies to try to prevent him from forcing his way out of the quickly closed door. Because of me, he happily trots into his crate at a softly spoken request.

But without my guy, Indy Stinkybutt would be a very well-mannered but slightly boring (and bored) dog. He’d never get to run around the yard maniacally chasing a sprinting and juking owner until they both collapsed in a heap. He wouldn’t get to lick a human’s face up one side and down the other without getting scolded. He’d miss out on the unique experience of a sudden full body hug from a full-grown man. And de’d never have gotten a sibling. Yup, our pup was gifted with another dog of his very own.

Meet Beau.

He likes full body hugs, too. And someday, he might even have manners.

I’m think I’m beginning to understand this team thing.  Have you learned about your relationship in unexpected ways?

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Mourning the fairy tale

Posted on February 13, 2009. Filed under: life is good, reality |

At some point, you discover that how you thought it would be isn’t how it is.  Whether it’s work-related (dream job not all it’s cracked up to be?) or personal (not nearly where you thought you’d be at 30?), it’s tough and you have to mourn.

My personal fairy tale was that when I found the right person, all of my b*llshit would go away.  With the right person, I thought, everything would be easy.  I’d cease being too much — too loud, too emotional, too intense — even for myself, and I’d settle happily into the stability that a partnership would bring.

When my first marriage ended, I let myself believe that it was because he wasn’t the right person.  Through our divorce, through living alone in a city where I knew nobody, through moving across the country alone and discovering that I was stronger than I gave myself credit for, I still believed in my fairy tale.  I mourned every dream I shared with my ex-husband, every future vacation, every lost opportunity to do what we’d planned.  I mourned the fact that I’d grown up with him and would never again be with a man who understood my roots as well as he did.  I lost a lot in that divorce — relatives-in-law, a great man, our future — but I held on to my fairy tale.

Marriage is a rite of passage, a transition from one phase of your life to another, a closing of one chapter in order to begin the next, and mourning the past is a natural part of that process.  As our wedding approaches, and with it all of the requisite stress and tension, I’m mourning the loss of my fairy tale… because as hard as it is to accept, my reality is myself and no relationship is going to save me from the hard stuff.

With every fight, I mourn a little more.  With every swallowed scream, every awkward silence, every unmet need, I wave a sad goodbye to any hope of miraculous ease.  I wonder why I chose to spend the rest of my life with a man who, hard as he might try, just isn’t as verbal as I am, why I’ve essentially condemned myself to leaning on friends, acquaintances, and the internet to get my words fix.  I wonder why I wasn’t smart enough, aware enough, determined enough to find a man more like me.

Then I remember.  I’ve had that, and I didn’t like it.  Yes, those relationships were stimulating and intellectually satisfying.  They were also exhausting, a constant struggle to come up with the best words, the clearest words, the words that would fix it all.  We’d endlessly debated what we were, how we were, what we should be, and had no time left to become anything.  And there’s an innate danger to relationships built on words because words can be so easily said.

I remember my relief upon meeting my man because he could just be – be happy, be content, be with me without needing to narrate.  With him, words weren’t necessary.  His life just was, unencumbered by a compelling need to be affirmed, and that life was so unlike the frantic mess of words my life had been.

He was my beacon, guiding me to a calmer, simpler, truer place that I’d forgotten existed.  And he did all that just by being himself.

The poem by George Eliot describes all I’ve ever wanted in a mate: the ability to be myself without having to edit.  Somewhere along the line I started to believe that to be accepted was to be reciprocated, but that’s just part of the fairy tale.  To be accepted to is be accepted, nothing more, and when he asks me if I need to talk and listens patiently while I do, I have all I’ve ever wished for.  If I happen to want a debate, I’ll call a friend.

So while I mourn my fairy tale – and the last hope that with my one true love I’d become someone different – I will soon celebrate a new story, a non-fiction epic where I don’t need to be anyone but myself, and when I need a break from my frantic, foggy wordy world, I can look at the man with whom I’ve intertwined my life and we can just be.

What’s your fairy tale?

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Things that are better since being engaged

Posted on December 5, 2008. Filed under: life is good |

I was working on a sewing project last night (I know, I still haven’t told you about it, but it’s because I’m not finished yet!) and I noticed how much I enjoyed pinning fabric, which I usually hate, because I liked the way my engagement ring sparkled when I spread my left hand to hold the pieces in place.  It got me thinking about other things that are better since we’ve been engaged.

  1. Meals with the future in-laws.  My fiance’s family is very small and very close, so I tended to feel like an intruder when I joined them for meals, especially for special occasions.  Since we’ve been engaged, I’ve felt less like an interloper.  Mr. Cheese and I have noticed that we’ve had more fun with them lately, and I wonder if this is why?
  2. Home improvement.  Rather than working on projects for the sake of temporary aesthetics (I was a happy renter before we bought this house), we’re now “building a home together.”  Every decision has more meaning, from paint (is it washable?) to bathroom tiles (will children slip on them?), so I’m enjoying the decision-making much more than before.
  3. Cooking.  This is likely one of my strange quirks (there are many), but before we were engaged, I only had fun cooking for us if it was an elaborate meal.  That’s how you cook for your boyfriend, right?  You try to impress him!  Now that we’re engaged, deciding what we’ll be eating each day is fun because the pressure’s off (and also, I’m lucky enough to have a man that could care less what he eats, but enjoys the heck out of it once it’s in front of him).
  4. Dinner with the neighbors.  We live on a fabulous street with very close neighbors who have twice-yearly block parties, among other things.  The mister already lived on this street before we bought our house together, and I always felt a bit like a temporary resident.  Everyone else is either married* (seriously) or comes solo, so I was the exception.  Now, I’m not… we’re official!!
  5. Sewing.  I like to look at my sparkly ring, and it keeps me from hating sewing so much.

I’ll keep updating this list as I think of or discover more things.  What have you found to be more fun or enjoyable since you got engaged?

*We have a couple of same sex couples on the street, and I count them as married for this purpose (even though they can’t be — don’tgetmestarted).

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    About

    I’ve been there, done that, got the t-shirt (and divorce papers) to prove it. Here I am again, pledging my life to my (new) love with eyes wide open (and heart racing) knowing full well how emotionally traumatic this can end… and doing it anyway.

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