I once heard the statement “your marriage will only be as healthy as the least healthy partner.” AND “what is yours, is now ours.” Your baggage is now mine and visa versa! Does that hit home for you?! That can either be good news or not so good news/sucky news!
I have been in a few relationships, especially during my dating spree of about four years after I was divorced. I was around thirty years old and I had done plenty of personal growth. In fact I had spent a few years teaching a personal growth course entitled “Understanding Yourself and Others.” It was through the Dreikurs Relationship Centers International. UYO was a weekend course that started Friday night at 7 pm and lasted about 33 hours, ending around 10 pm on Sunday night. I often taught with my ex-husband! We taught a small group of 25 people and it was incredible what we were able to accomplish during that time. People often walked out completely different. They were freer from their past which had drifted unknowingly into their present lives.
So I was no stranger to the world of personal growth. I also had a son who was about 3 years old and I knew that any long term relationship was not just for myself, but for this little one too. Plenty of good guys came into my life, a few whacky ones also. A couple of them might have been fine husbands but when I thought about any of them as a stepfather to my son, none passed that important test.
Until I met Tom. We had been friends for a few years and when he finally met Dominic for the first time in a Mexican restaurant in Boulder, he brought him a Batman toy. Dominic was 3 years old. He still remembers that. Check mark for thoughtfulness and consideration of the most important man in my life at that time, Dominic! Next check mark came in the personal growth category. Tom had spent years with Landmark Education, the evolved EST of the 80’s. He loved introspection and was open to continual evolution in that realm.
Fast forward sixteen years later. Tom is the most amazing father/stepfather/husband that I could have imagined. But here’s the deal. I went into the relationship with my eyes wide open. And I had done a lot of work on myself previous to our marriage. Sixteen years together has not come without challenges, as you can imagine and some of you know. But what I have learned is that the first gift that you give to a relationship is the pursuit of your healthy self. You need to clear out past relationships (ex’s, mother’s, father’s, uncle’s, etc) so that they aren’t in the space of the current relationship. There is no space for holding back or withholding. Don’t keep a scorecard. And ask yourself “what are my issues UNDER the issues?” Everything you ARE (consciously and unconsciously) you bring into the space of the relationship between the two of you. One thing that Tom has often said is that “it is not what you give in a relationship, but it is what you are willing to give up.” Meaning: ARE THE DIRTY SOCKS ON THE FLOOR, AND THE TOILET SEAT UP really worth getting into a stink over (no pun intended!). Give it a couple of hours and see if it’s still a deal breaker. Probably not.
It is my belief that the work never stops if you really want a powerful and spiritual journey together. One plus one does not equal two in a relationship, the third side of the triangle is the relationship itself. Water it, love it, sing to it. A great relationship is a miracle that is created, not bestowed. It is SO worth it.
From Gretchen Rubin's "The Happiness Project"
I love a great novel. I am in the middle of an epic novel right now, “Shantaram” by Gregory David Roberts. It is beautiful; the language is poetic, the plot is addictive, the characters complex and identifiable, and the setting is palatable. I wish I could write like Gregory David Roberts. I have bought a good dozen books on “how to write.” I have never gotten close to the level of GDR. Sigh. And then I read Anne Lamont’s book, “Bird by Bird.” What I love about Lamont is her honesty and humor. I can aspire to that. She insists that “shitty first drafts” are just a part of the process, I can aspire to that too! And, most importantly she writes about subjects that are not easy to write about…loss, sadness, addiction, disappointment, death. But I always finish her books feeling hope, inspiration and meaning. Tears sometimes wrapped up in a belly laugh!
Stephen King. I have never really been a huge fan of Stephen King. He has published 54 novels and over 200 short stories, so far! Where do these fantastical ideas come from in a single person? His imagination is incredible. I don’t think I can aspire to that!! But his book, “On Writing, A Memoir of the Craft” is one of my favorite books on writing. And my favorite quote in the book is: “The road to hell is paved with adverbs.” Omit needless words. That I can aspire to. Make your writing concise if you want people to read it. More is not better.
This theory was confirmed by an article I read today by another great writer, James Altucher. Ever heard of the F-K Score? Nope? Me neither! The Flesch-Kincaid Score was developed to determine at what grade level you are writing. Now one would assume that “simple” writing would warrant a bad score and flowery and descriptive writing would warrant a good score. Wrong. The F-K score is a function of how many words per sentence (lower is better), and how many syllables per word (lower is better) in your writing. A 10 means you are writing at a 10th grade level, 12 at a 12th grade level and on.
Here’s the funny thing. More, bigger and longer words and sentences are NOT better. If you want your writing to be READ (the whole point!) then simple and to the point is KING! Gretchen Rubin is a NY Times best selling author of “The Happiness Project.” It has sold over a million copies. Her F-K score is a 5. Hemingway’s “Old Man and the Sea,” a 4. “Heart of Darkness” by Joseph Conrad, a 6. Good sales writers have known this for ages. They aim for a score as low as possible. And anything over an 8 is considered BAD sales writing.
You might think, fine but I am not SELLING anything. Oh yes you are. You are selling if you want your writing to be READ. And if you want to be read then write below an 8th grade level. Eschew (ha, good word, but NOT effective) flowery language, semicolons, and run on sentences. EDIT. Eliminate words and sentences that are showy. By the way, the F-K score of this blog…4.5. Bam!
I travel quite a bit and I am in probably a dozen different taxi cabs a month. I love taxi drivers…almost universally. What I love about them is their honesty. If you ask a driver his opinion (I have only had ONE female driver, ever!) you will get his REAL answer. They are almost always an immigrant and they have an incredible work ethic.
Here are some answers to questions I have asked:
Me: How do you like driving a cab?
Taxi Cab Driver: It’s fine as long as I don’t pick up the drunk ones late at night.
Me: Are people nice to you?
TCD: Yes! People are for the most part really nice, except for the occasional drunk ones.
Me: Do you like driving a cab?
TCD: Oh yes, I do like it when it is busy and I get people like you in my cab. I don’t like working the late shift and having to deal with the drunk people.
It pretty much goes like that, and bravo to the “drunk ones” who have paid for a taxi ride home instead of driving…please just remember to be nice!
However on one taxi cab drive from our hotel in Brisbane, Australia to the airport, the dialogue went a little differently. The cab pulled up to the hotel, and it was hot. This cute guy about 5”5” hops out and hoists the 50+ bags up into the “boot” of the cab effortlessly. His big grin said “no big deal!” We jumped in, Tom in the front and me in the back. It was a twenty minute drive to the airport.
Tom: How is your day going?
Driver: A little slow, I was happy to get this fare!
Me: Do you drive a cab full time?
Driver: Yes but I am also going to nursing school.
Me: Do you have kids, are you married?
Driver: Oh yes, I am so happy because I have two children, a boy and girl and my wife is pregnant right now. But she is so sick this time with morning sickness, it makes me worried. But I am so so blessed in my life.
Tom: Oh that’s awesome! Where are you from?
Driver: (garbled) Rwanda
Me: Rwanda Tom.
Me: Do you go back home to see your family?
Driver: No, my family is dead. The only reason I would go back is take my son to see where I was born.
Me/Tom: I am so sorry…(my mind was flashing a yellow light, people don’t say DEAD when someone dies of “natural causes, they say “passed away.”)
Driver: You have heard of the genocide? In 1994, all of my family was slaughtered in the genocide. All 24 members of my family were killed except for me, I was a boy, nine years old. My father paid for the killers to shoot him in the head instead of be executed by machete.
Me: (digging kleenex out of my handbag, weeping)
Tom: That is horrible, I am so sorry.
Driver: I spent almost ten years in refuge camps until I was finally able to immigrate to Australia. I love Australia, that is why I am going to nursing school, to be able to give back to this great country, and they pay for my education.
Me: Wow, you are amazing, what a big heart you have.
Driver: I am very blessed. Where are you from?
Tom: The United States
Driver: Yes, I LOVE the United States…TEXAS!!! I want to go to TEXAS!!
Me: (Laughing at his exuberance) Ha, yes, why Texas?
Driver: Joel Osteen, I want to go see Joel Osteen, you know Joel Osteen?
Tom: (the energy much lighter at this point) Of course we know about Joel Osteen! His is awesome! Why do you love Joel Osteen so much?
Driver: He saved my life, brought me hope.
We pulled up to the airport, I asked to see pictures of his wife and kids and he showed me with a huge grin, he was so proud. His name was Ashley, he gave us his card. He jumped out of the cab and once again lifted our bar bell luggage out of the trunk. We all gave each other hugs good bye, and Tom gave him a $100 tip and told him to take good care of his family. He was so happy, he stood there waving good bye until we got inside the terminal.
My heart was touched. I needed to go into the bathroom and sit by myself for a minute. I felt an overwhelming feeling of sadness and at the same time amazement at the human spirit. After everything that he had witnessed and experienced in his 30 years, he still felt BLESSED. He still felt joy. He still felt hope. It was a moment I will never forget. The resiliency of the human spirit.
That night I could not sleep. Thinking about this sweet man with the huge smile…and Joel Osteen. The next day Tom and I both shared with each other how he had affected us and we decided to pay it forward. We decided that we would pay for Ashley to go see Joel Osteen, and his wife if she could make the journey. Not only that, we now have made contact with people who know Pastor Osteen in Houston and we will be able to have Ashley meet him personally. That is what it is all about, true human connection. Heart to heart. What an incredible man you are Ashley from Rwanda. I love taxi cab drivers.
let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love. It will not lead you astray. -Rumi
body & wellness