[24] 29 Lessons

You are not your own.

If you've ever held a toddler while pooping, nursed while dusting, or awoken to a foot directly in your face, then you know what I'm talking about: You are not your own.

If you've ever rolled your eyes at pants hanging on the wall hook, wanted the car armrest to yourself, or have longed to just watch that dang chick flick on Netflix, then you know what I'm talking about: You are not your own.

If you've ever wanted to pick the happy hour spot for once, wished you could be the star instead of the wingman, or hoped to learn the ending of a book by actually reading it, then you know what I'm talking about: You are not your own.

And how often do we just yearn for these moments where we have our own blocked out space--physically, emotionally, spiritually? As a self-proclaimed introvert, I have learned that the best way for me to recharge is to carve out the coveted "me time."

Yet.

If you've ever longed to be needed, hungered for human touch, or been excited to share your latest epiphany with someone who will listen and care, then you know what I'm talking about: You are not your own. 

We are beings designed for community and connectedness. If we were created to live in love, it stands to reason that we need something--someone--to love. While a healthy balance in all relationships (friendships, marriages, parenting) is essential for the sake of, not only both parties but the functionality of the relationship itself, the point is we need it to exist more than we need our space. And though you can find yourself irritated over the tiniest things living in close quarters with a guy for the rest of your life, don't forget how your heart so deeply craved that simultaneous romance and comfort before he came along. 

Then the kids. Oh, the kids. My kids and I have certainly had our fair-share of togetherness time in the past six weeks. We are attached at the hip all hours of the day while we adjust to this crazy new place. But come fall, it will be time to start talks and tours and interviews for sending Iris to school, and just last night I recounted to Trevor all the overwhelming emotions that brings with it. Can it really be time? Can't I just keep her here with me?

In the good times or the bad, it comes down to one simple fact: We are not our own. Even if we chose selfishness over love and skipped town leaving it all behind, the consequences of that decision would play out forever and ever, ripples effecting people we never dreamed might be touched. We try to live singularly and we cannot. 

So whenever you feel yourself desperate for alone time, take it, for sure. But also remember that to not be your own means you are not alone, and we shouldn't want to have to go it ourselves. 

[23] 29 Lessons

Fall in love again.

I had this thought the other day about Rapunzel. Like, of course she fell in love with the prince! She'd been trapped in a tower for most of her life and he was the first person she had ever met besides her kidnapper. I mean, the odds were pretty in his favor.

I dated a bit in high school and less in college. I always got bored, and once I realized I got bored, I just sort of...quit dating. What I'm saying is, I didn't acquire a lot of real serious relationship experience before I met the love of my life. Trev and I met and married quite young. Did you know I take flack for that sometimes? Like because I met the perfect man at 21 and we've been happy ever since I actually have nothing real to say about love and relationships? This accusation has been brought against me more than once.

The thing about Rapunzel and the prince is that you don't know anything of the story outside of the honeymoon phase. I mean, what happens when he rescues her out of that tower and suddenly she sees this big wide world out there? The prince was good when he was all she knew. Does he remain "the one"? 

I married a Prince Charming. And he has continued to be a Prince Charming all of the days that I've known him. And while he is a knight in shining armor (because I think you can be a prince and a knight? Can you? Well, he is.), I entered into this relationship on my own accord. He chose me and I chose him and I like that about our love story.

But whether or not he was the 100th man I loved or the first; whether or not I met him at 15 or 55; whether we stayed locked in a secluded tower or visited every city on earth, sooner or later there's going to be a time to choose. We choose to love. You might think that sounds unromantic, but I say it's the most lovey-dovey thing there is. I married a man who chooses me every day even though he knows that girls do poop and that I'm super cranky almost every morning. 

The point is, I realized, that when you make this choice, sometimes it comes easily and sometimes it is harder, even if you don't know why. But by realizing that loving is choosing, you grant yourself this wonderful opportunity to fall in love over and over again. Every time you do, every time you make the choice and then you are reminded of why, every time your heart goes soft again, your love grows stronger.

By the time I turn 30, I'll have spent just shy of ten years with a man that I love. I know that's just a fraction of the time that we'll have together on this earth, but already I have fallen in love with him multiple times. Settling down doesn't mean that you've experience that feeling of falling for the last time; it just means that you don't have to seek it out in strangers or unknown places any more. Instead you choose what you already know is good and right for you and you learn to love it more and more in new ways every day.

If you haven't found Mr. Right in your twenties or thirties, or heck, your forties and beyond, I think it still applies. We all have to keep our hearts soft. We all have to make choices. We all have to believe that love can happen again and again. So whether it's loving the one you're with or waiting to turn the corner into the man of your dreams, don't forget to fall in love again. 

[7] 29 Lessons

Love doesn't fail.

If I had to choose one of my big, big ugly faults, it would be that I am not good at remembering this. I have been so fortunate in life to be surrounded by many who love me well; yet despite these radiating examples of true love, I sometimes choose to heed the inner-curmugeon just waiting for people to let me down.

It's my biggest obstacle in relationships. I've worried about disappointing my parents, despite their constant reassurances that I'll make them proud by simply being happy. I've kept friends at arm's length or turned away at the first hint of turbulence just to avoid the messy business of watching love do its great work of keeping things together. This is a fault of mine, no one else's.

The person who loves me best of all is a man hell-bent on making me see that his love will not fail me.  He won't let me not believe it.

I'm talking about a man who has born witness the worst parts of me that exist, and he still admonishes me to look into his eyes so that I see him telling me he loves me--meaning it. I'm talking about a man who pays attention to my needs (even when I don't), who sends me on rejuvenating trips, and takes me on thoughtful dates. He's the same man who once jokingly bought me a pack of cigarettes because I felt terribly regretful for not having [what seemed at the time a completely necessary] teenage rebellion. I'm talking about a man who believes in me when I want absolutely everything, and who believes in me equally when I think I want absolutely nothing. On Valentine's Day this man gave me a beautiful rhinestone bangle; and when I put it on, he gingerly held my arm to admire me wearing it. "When I saw it," he said, "I just knew that it would look like this on your wrist." Because he is the man who considers these things.

While he leaves me no room to worry that his love may fail, I have often taken his love for granted by not being constantly aware of the depth of it. His love covers all of me at all times; and though my head realizes it, my heart does not always live in this attitude.

I'm also guilty of failing to see the bigger picture in this love: Which is, True Love awaits everyone (not just those lucky enough to marry Trevors) if they only turn to it. There is a Love that loves us well, despite our hidden evils and sins. It Loves us well in the face of who we are, talents and quirks and dark fears and confusion. It is a Love that bids us to go and to do and to be who we were created to be. And it is a Love that knows us, from our wrists to our hearts and the hairs on our heads.

It is not Love that fails us. It is we who fail Love. We fail Love by refusing to see, by refusing to succumb to it, by not appreciating and reciprocating its graciousness every day. By simply doubting its steadfastness.

But Love does not fail, does not fail, does not fail. Repeat until it is imprinted on your heart.