This past Sunday was the six year anniversary of my first date with the man I married.
I was wild about him from the start, and we had spooky-good chemistry.
Serendipity followed us from the get-go– to the point that The New York Times wrote about it in detail when we got married.
However, since early 2012, we’ve been in high intensity kid mode.
I gave birth to a daughter in March 2012, and a son in July 2013.
Since our son’s birth, until just four days ago, when we moved into a three bedroom apartment, our son slept in our bedroom, about two feet from our bed.
I should probably mention that my husband and I are both passionate people.
We’re both uber-verbal and wicked smart.
We’re also highly, highly sensitive beings, to a degree we don’t often witness in other couples.
And we are both crazy (and I mean CRAZY) triggered by not feeling seen or understood on a daily basis.
Combine that with not sleeping for months due to the coolest, non-sleeping kids on the planet, heavy duty work pressures (like the launch of my first online course) and Type-A righteous commitment to our respective endeavors, and you’ve got a bit of a molotov cocktail.
You see, it turns out that despite the fact that we are soul mates, when subject to this particular perfect storm of circumstances, my husband and I are also wicked good at tearing eachother to shreds.
And I’m not talking a few barbs here and there.
I’m talking Wolverine level.
(Trust me, it’s not just him. I’m pretty sure someone in my office complex may have heard me shout “F*&^ you!” into the phone as recently as last week. Yikes.)
I’ve often found myself wondering in the last few months how we got here– how I got here– to this place where we could both be so cruel to the person who matters most.
But one of the interesting things about the work I do is that I am always looking for alignment, and always trying to find the good, even in trying circumstances.
And the Universe responds when you’re tuned in like that, because when you fall out of alignment, it will send you reminders of what alignment looks like, as if to say: remember this?
Last week, I was packing up some office papers at home when I opened up a manila folder at the front of my file box.
The manila folder was labeled– helloooo, Universe– “To Deal With.”
Inside that folder was a photo of my husband and I, taken shortly after we became engaged, that I hadn’t seen in years.
It’s quite the image, no?
There’s safety and security and surrender when I look at how my husband is holding me here– there’s nowhere to go, and nowhere I’d rather be. And boy, does he look like he knows exactly what he wants.
And then there’s that ever-so-slight wickedness that is evident in the barely-there smile on my face. A perfect representation of empowerment in surrender. Who’s giving and who’s taking here? Who’s in charge? (I’m smiling that same smile as I write this.) We both are, of course.
And then there’s the anticipation of what’s about to happen– the kiss that is there, and yet not there, not just yet. The whole thing is just damn sexy.
That photo is a perfect representation of who we are when we’re our best selves. It documents us meeting in the middle of our shared lives– open, honest, full of desire, and with a lot of love. It’s beautiful.
WE are beautiful.
It is everything I want to be in my marriage, and everything I want my marriage to be.
And it’s nearly five years old.
When I pulled it out of that manila folder, it took my breath away, but not for the reasons you think.
It took my breath away because I felt immediately that I had long forgotten how to love like that, and even THAT I love him like that.
So what did I do?
I put the photo back in its folder, and kept packing.
Over the next day or so, I found myself thinking about how time is an interesting structure, because in reality I am still the woman in that photo, and my husband is still that man, and we haven’t gone anywhere.
But I kept hauling boxes, and settling my kids into our new apartment, and unpacking our kitchen.
The Universe apparently wasn’t quite satisfied with this response.
On Monday morning, I was on the subway listening to a Gavin DeGraw song, when the following lyric smacked me upside the head.
Think I dropped my wallet in San Jose
Lost the only picture I have of you that day
You’re the best I ever had
And I won’t be the same.
I’m not ashamed to admit that I nearly burst into tears right then and there.
It was the idea of something lost– a photo? a moment in time?– that slayed me, and I spent the rest of the train ride realizing some very serious shit.
I can be a kick-ass coach. I can change lives every day (and do).
I can serve humanity and serve the world by helping all those in it to be happier, healthier and more authentically who they are.
I can teach people how to overcome shame, tell their deepest, scariest stories without fear, and own their lives with joy.
I can teach them how to believe again– in themselves, in their lives and in what’s possible.
I can do all of this, but if I am not the most myself at home,
the most authentic and most aligned person I can be in that place before all others,
the kindest, most generous, most loving person I can be to the people (and person) who matter most to me in life in the deepest reaches of my heart,
THEN I AM NOTHING.
As I processed this, I began to think about the fact that one of the traditions that I am most closely aligned with in terms of philosophy talks often about gurus and doctrine, and the need to be wary of those things, because they do not hold the answers we might otherwise seek. Here’s why:
Because as householders, in our most intimate and vulnerable moments with those we call family, we find ourselves to be our own greatest teachers.
And so today, I’m here to tell you this:
our true holiness, our greatest enlightenment, and our most powerful ability to change the world starts and ends in the faces and the reflections of the people we love the most. (tweet this.)
In fact, it MUST start there, or everything else will pale by comparison.
THIS, RIGHT HERE, is where it really matters. THIS, RIGHT HERE, is where you really make a difference. First, and before anything else.
And I’m now convinced that that photograph reappeared to remind me that however hard the path may be at times to stay open to the intensity of this great, great love, this love is my highest calling, my greatest teacher and my most perfect muse.
I owe it everything I’ve got.
I may forget again, at some point, how much I love this man. Everything flows in cycles, and forgiveness of oneself and others is a critical part of the path.
But for now, for now and for as long as I can stand it, I choose to remember. And I choose to speak it out loud as often as possible in the hope that I will not forget.
He is everything, he is beautiful, and he is mine. We are made for eachother, come what may.
It is a perfect imperfection, this life.
And so, this week, I wish you a vast wealth of remembrance of what matters most. Take it home with you, take it into your heart, and own it.
PS. On a totally unrelated note, my new online course, The Ultimate Job Seeker’s Toolkit, opens tomorrow. If you’d like, you can get in here.
PPS. And as always, if you love this post, please forward it to a friend.
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