An Unconventional Love Story

Photo by Fabrizio Verrecchia on Unsplash

Yesterday my husband and I celebrated nineteen years together. Nineteen. That may seem like a drop in the bucket to some of you, but it is significant to me for a number of reasons. First, nineteen years is nearly half my lifetime.

Second, the tendency toward wishy-washiness that I’ve discussed many times in regard to writing didn’t just appear along with my novel-publishing dreams. It was alive and well during that initial dating period, which as you can imagine, made for a bumpy start.

And third, the fact that our romance was (and still is) viewed by some as unconventional created an additional layer of difficulty. I was twenty; he was thirty-four. I was still figuring out what I wanted to do with my life; he’d been gainfully employed with the same company for a decade-plus. I’d only been in one serious but very short-term relationship; he’d been married and had two young daughters.

Plenty of people told me I was too young/immature/short-sighted to understand the consequences of such a decision. They told me I shouldn’t be with him. I wouldn’t be happy. It couldn’t work. My ever-present hesitant side was inclined to agree. This didn’t look like any kind of love story I’d ever seen. It certainly didn’t align with the one I’d imagined for myself. And yet . . .

There was something about him. Something that got ahold of me and wouldn’t let go. Something that kept drawing me back to him again and again even after the whispers and opinions and speculation started flowing from the mouths of both those who knew us and those who didn’t. Those judgments hurt. They caused tension and discomfort. But still we persevered.

And now, nineteen years later, I can honestly say I wouldn’t hesitate to do it all over again. Has it been all candlelight and roses? Of course not. Many of the premonitions from those early naysayers have turned out to be spot on—step parenting is indeed tough (in fact, next to “wife,” it may be the most difficult role I’ve ever taken on) and our untraditional circumstances have absolutely presented some challenges and obstacles that go beyond typical marital woes.

But having grown some and experienced a little more of the world, I’ve learned two things: 1) whether conventional or not, all relationships come with their own special set of trials, and 2) discovering a deep connection with another human being is a gift to be treasured regardless of what it looks like.

So, as Valentine’s Day quickly approaches, I’d like to recognize all the love birds out there who have found that special something. Whether or not it looks like what you thought it would or like society says it should, I encourage you to embrace it, fight for it, and celebrate it every chance you get.

The Rainbow of Goal Realization: Go!

Now that we have defined our reason and created a mission statement for our goal—basically a reminder of what we want to do, why we want to do it, and what we hope to gain—and gotten ourselves organized and committed to saying YES! to our goal, it’s time to get moving.

If you haven’t done so already, go ahead and put your in-place plan into practice. Start today if you can. Don’t fool yourself into believing there will be a better, less busy day when you will have more time and more energy. I dare say that such a day does not exist. And neither do realized goals unless we somehow make them happen.

We can ponder and plan and visualize all day, every day. That’s the easy part. But it’s uncovering that determination and daring to step out of our comfortable routines, that is key to seeing forward progress. Unfortunately, this may also be the most difficult step in The Rainbow of Goal Realization. That’s why starting with our reason, our mission statement, is so important.

That mission statement encapsulates all of the initial hope and energy and motivation that comes so naturally in the early stages. It’s what lights our fire to get us going and it will help keep that fire lit when things get tough. And you can almost guarantee they will. If accomplishing this goal was simple, you’d have done it already.

So keep that mission statement handy and refer to it as often as is necessary to stay encouraged. Here are a few other suggestions to keep you going:

  1. Don’t go it alone. Although it is absolutely possible to realize a goal all on your own, doing it in community is way more fun. So get some accountability from a friend, or a group of friends, or that friend of a friend who you’ve heard has a goal similar to yours. Surround yourself with cheerleaders who will pick you up (and whom you can lift up) when/if you fall down.
  2. Reward yourself for each triumph. Celebrating every smaller stepping stone that you reach on the way to your ultimate goal is a huge momentum booster. This is a great way to acknowledge progress and remind yourself of both where you’ve been and how far you’ve come.
  3. Adjust to interruptions but don’t let them snowball. Don’t beat yourself up when the unexpected happens and throws you off track for a day or two. But allow that day or two to turn into a week or two and you’ll likely find yourself back at square one a month or even a year down the road. Instead, when life gets in the way, adjust your plan, amend your smaller goals if you have to, but get back on track as soon as you can and, if possible, pick up right where you left off.

I hate to sound morbid, but this is the only life we get. We are not promised another tomorrow or another week or another year. We can only be sure of the current moment. Right now. And right now is the perfect time to get started on realizing our goals.

So get ready, get set, and get going!

FORO

Photo by Aron Visuals on Unsplash

Our digital world is filled with numerous acronyms and abbreviations and emoticons. It’s like an entirely different language. There’s FOMO and NOMO-phobia and YOLO. There’s SMH and ROFL and ILY. It seems everything, from phrases to feelings to actions, can be simplified into shorter forms that are recognizable to avid texters and even found in online dictionaries and reference pages.

There’s one acronym in particular that I hadn’t even heard of until I started blogging in March. Back then I made a commitment to myself to write two posts a week. Initially, it was easy. I had a surplus of ideas and not a single concern that the well would dry up. But eleven months and ninety-six posts later, FORO, or the fear of running out, has reared its ugly head.

At first it started as a little niggle in the back of my mind whenever I sat down at my desk. What if I can’t think of anything to write? What if I have nothing interesting to say? What if I draw a complete blank? Fortunately, that hasn’t happened yet. Something always seems to come to light. A story to share, a message to relay, a question to ponder.

But the FORO has remained, latent but ever-present, and lately it’s turning into something more. No longer a fear of running out of content, but a fear of running out of time. It’s one of our most precious commodities and we’re only allotted so much and I worry that I haven’t been using mine well. That God gave me a life and a purpose and so far I’ve squandered a good chunk of it immobilized by fear, insecurity, and doubt.

At the end of December I was determined to dedicate this year to simplicity and stillness and service. But here we are, already into February and what have I simplified? How have I been still? Where have I served? To be completely frank, I’ve been a total slacker in all three areas. The good news is I woke up again today. God has blessed me with a little more time to get my act together.

And act, I shall.

It might already be February third, but it’s not too late to rock this year. So if you, too, have found yourself in the grip of fear and your 2020 goals and pursuits and intentions have waned and wasted away because of it, decide to make this the day you get back on track. Right now is the perfect moment to start again. Hey, maybe we can even make that into a new acronym: RNITPMTSA. Then again, maybe not.