My Raw Food Reality 2018

Who Doesn’t Love a Good Challenge?

In 2009, at thirty-six years old and a little over four years into my “health journey,” I guess I was primed for a challenge.  I had already released over 100 pounds and maintained good habits for quite a few years. My “good habits” consisted of eating a fairly balanced vegan diet, being mindful of calories and not overeating, and getting in some moderate exercise everyday.  This would have been a perfectly reasonable approach with which to continue on. But, I still ate some processed vegan foods, salty restaurant meals and plenty of decaf coffee, so I felt there was some room for improvement. Thus, when I happened upon a website promoting a 100 day raw food challenge, I was excited to participate.  

Why Raw Vegan?

To preface my recount of my raw food experience, for those of you not privy to what constitutes a raw vegan diet, it is loosely defined as consisting of whole plant-foods, including fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds, all of which are not heated over around 118 degrees. Simple enough, right?  Advocates of a raw food lifestyle generally hold the belief that consuming primarily natural, unprocessed food is ideal for human health, as foods have more “life force” when their enzymes and nutrients have not been denatured by high temperatures.  Not to mention, eating a large amount of fresh fruits and vegetables displaces a lot of the crap that we eat on a standard American diet.  

For the most part, those who follow a raw food diet are plant-based or vegan, as I am, though some raw foodist may consume milk, eggs and meat in their raw form.  The way in which foods are prepared on a raw vegan diet include juicing, blending, dehydrating, soaking & sprouting, as compared to the usual cooking methods of baking, grilling, frying, steaming, etc.  There is definitely an adjustment period, but there are plenty of enjoyable and satisfying options on a raw food diet.  For the most part, those who follow a raw food diet are plant-based or vegan, as I am, though some raw foodist may consume milk, eggs and meat in their raw form.  The way in which foods are prepared on a raw vegan diet include juicing, blending, dehydrating, soaking & sprouting, as compared to the usual cooking methods of baking, grilling, frying, steaming, etc.  There is definitely an adjustment period, but there are plenty of enjoyable and satisfying options on a raw food diet. For some, it is a sustainable lifestyle all the time, whereas, for others, it feels too restrictive to adhere to 100 percent, but can serve as a baseline for good nutrition.

 

Gourmet Raw Food from Khepra's Raw Food Juice Bar @ DC VegFest 2011
Gourmet Raw Food from Khepra’s Raw Food Juice Bar @ DC VegFest 2011

Those that have followed an exclusively raw food diet long-term often report many health benefits.  I certainly learned to connect more with my body and gained clarity about the impact food has on mood, physical pain, and digestion.  I saw some health improvements in the beginning, though, aging, sleep-deprivation and stress probably account for the plateau I eventually reached on my heath path.  There is little science to validate the effectiveness of an exclusively raw vegan diet, as a life-long approach to disease prevention, as compared to a “clean” whole food diet, combined with other healthful lifestyle choices.  Of course, there are plenty of anecdotal accounts, both positive and negative, that you can find on the Internet, if is a topic that interest you.  Keep in mind that the length of time and resources each individual had when attempting a raw food diet will greatly impact their experience.

Following the Momentum

Incidentally, the 100 day raw food challenge experience was fairly easy for me.  The days went by without too much angst or resistance to change. This was probably because I already ate a fair amount of fresh fruits and veggies and was used to making a lot of my food myself. My excitement about this new found dietary path inspired me to acquire the protocol of standard raw food kitchen gadgets, including a Greenstar juicer,ceramic knife, newer Vitamix Blender,Excalibur dehydrator and aspiralizer!  I was excited! After the challenge completed, I was feeling so good, and was so inspired by the community of raw food enthusiasts with whom I had connected online, that I just kept going! Fueled, partly by curiosity as to how it would feel to do this long-term, it became a fairly effortless lifestyle.

 

Vitamix Blender & Smoothie
Vitamix Blender & Smoothie
Excalibur Dehydrator
Excalibur Dehydrator
Spiralizer
Spiralizer
Kyocera Ceramic Knives
Kyocera Ceramic Knives

Seeking Out Support & Inspiration

In the subsequent years, to stay connected and purposefully remain on my chosen dietary path, I attended a few raw food events, lots of potlucks and made the pilgrimage to Arnold’s Raw Food Cafe in Lansdale, Pennsylvania, which was always a treat.  I, also, attended the Woodstock Fruit Festival three times, which provided “real life” community and inspiring examples of people of all ages that were thriving on varying degrees of a raw vegan diet. Whenever finances and schedules allow, this festival will likely continue to rank at the top of my preferred vacation destinations.  It is so nice to go spend a week with a supportive and diverse group of health-seekers, share experiences and enjoy some of the best raw food around.

 

Arnold's Way
Arnold’s Way Trip 2010

 

The Woodstock Fruit Festival 2016
The Woodstock Fruit Festival 2016

And to support my food values, I even I organized a natural foods buying club out of my garage. This gave me great access to a variety of produce.  I continued this for many years, and still do some orders these days, which has been a community-building experience and made me love natural foods even more!  

 

Produce Buying Club in my Garage 2012
Produce Buying Club in my Garage 2012

Further, I frequented raw vegan potlucks to connect with other raw food enthusiasts locally.  I have always had a passion for potlucks, regardless of the precise dietary focus.  I find them to be such a great way to bring people together.  So, these activities, coupled with online connections, really helped me feel motivated to continue on with the raw food lifestyle, just to see how it evolved for me.

 

Raw Vegan Potluck 2015
Raw Vegan Potluck 2015

As such, somehow, eight years went by, just living my life on my divergent dietary path.  The experience taught me a lot about myself, my body, nutrition, food culture and what constitutes “health.”  But, that is not to say there were no obstacles along the way, some of which may have related directly to my dietary choices, and some may have been more correlated to emotions and life experience.  Nonetheless, there was some learning and new self-awareness, especially in the first few years.

The Reemergence of My Gremlin

I came from a past of disordered eating, including compulsive overeating and binge eating, starting in my late mid-teens, up until 2005, when I was 31 years old, and had had enough of the self-abuse.  For four years prior to commencing my raw vegan experience, I had been focusing on weight loss, mindful eating and food journaling, as a means of staying present with food. I had lost over 100 pounds, found a sense of peace with food, and thought I had “tamed my gremlin.”  After spending most of my young life tormented by dietary ups and downs, I finally felt hopeful that I was on the right track to maintaining balance, physically and emotionally, and was proud of myself for changing the trajectory I had been on and providing my, then, young children with a more balanced mom and role model.

Then, I decided to “upgrade” my diet and go all in with the raw vegan lifestyle.  I was feeling great for the first few months, with my simple fruit and veggie meals, homemade salad dressings and smoothies.  Things were feeling much the same as they always had. But, then I discovered raw vegan “gourmet” foods. I started creating more elaborate recipes, with nut and seed spreads, concocting raw cacao desserts and drizzling olive oil on zucchini noodles.  I discovered the whole world of raw vegan packaged foods, which felt like it made this lifestyle even better! But, amidst of these expanded “raw food” options, something unexpected happened. All of a sudden, I found myself struggling with the compulsion to overeat or binge on dense, fatty raw foods like raw granolas, cashew cheezecake, lasagnas, cookies, crackers, raw chocolates, or sometimes, even just fruit or banana ice cream.  Something had been triggered, and there I was again, dealing with some of the old feelings and cycles of behavior that I thought I had overcome years prior.

 

Raw Vegan Packaged Foods
Raw Vegan Packaged Foods
Raw Vegan Packaged Goodies
Raw Vegan Packaged Goodies

Raw Foods Learning Curve

There is a learning curve and adjustment period, when switching to a raw vegan diet.  Whole, uncooked fruits and veggies have to be consumed in greater quantities to reach the same degree of satiation that we are used to feeling on more condensed, cooked foods.  I really was not privy to this information in the beginning, but I quickly realized that my digestion felt a bit different and to remain comfortably full, I had to eat sizable quantities of fruits and veggies at my meals.  But, when I incorporated more gourmet meals, or packaged raw foods into the mix, suddenly that equilibrium was thrown off again, due to the higher fat content and greater caloric density. It actually took me a few years to feel like I really worked out the kinks and found balance again with my food routines.  I don’t know why I persevered, but, I felt like I was growing and learning more about myself on this path, and I wasn’t yet ready to abandon it. So, that found me around the 4 year mark, on my 8 year raw food journey. At this point, I had found my groove and was sure I was in it for life.

 

Raw Vegan Chocolates
Raw Vegan Chocolates

Still, there were times, in my day to day life, that I did not feel like I had the support I needed, or just felt like I was inconveniencing others with my choices, being a “food freak.”  I have had friends and family members tell me they couldn’t, and wouldn’t want to, eat “as perfect” as I do. When I would hear that, I felt that maybe I had set my own dietary bar too high and not given ample consideration to the social and emotional role food plays in our life.  But, I was consuming the things I truly craved and wanted, not forcing myself to isolate myself from the world, trying to live up to some vision of perfection. 

Of course, contemplating these things was interesting, and would likely not have happened had I not taken on the task of revising my diet and been willing to question my beliefs surrounding food, including traditions, emotionally charged memories related to food, social constructs, my consumer habits, and existing scientific nutritional research. Actually, in 2014, it inspired me to enroll in a graduate program in health & wellness coaching, where I had ample opportunity to examine a holistic perspective of health and expand my understanding of nutrition. So, overall, the obstacles I experienced were few, were accompanied by useful lessons and new insights about myself, and never deterred me from my focus to see how life evolved eating primarily produce.

 

Fruit Bowl
Fruit Bowl

Revising My Raw Food Rituals

However, towards the end of 2017, after consuming almost 100 percent raw foods for over 8 years, suddenly, adhering to an “all raw” diet started to feel like more of a an arbitrary choice than a purposeful endeavor, given the context of my life as a mid-life mom, living in Western Maryland.  I know food is integral to my sense of well-being and the first line of defense against many ills and diseases. But, the energetics of food go beyond their nutrient profile and filter into the psyche. I had began to feel intuitively drawn to dabble with some cooked whole foods, with the same sense of curiosity that enticed me to follow the raw vegan path in the first place.  Also, it came at a time when mid-life had been forcing me to really acknowledge that the “nourishment” I get from movement, relaxation, relationships and time for creative pursuits was of equal importance as the food I consumed.

And, thus, a transition started in my mind before it quite took hold in the physical realm.  Drawing the line in the dietary sand, between raw vegan and whole foods vegan did take me awhile to do.  Making the shift felt like kind of a big deal, after having invested 8 years into this dietary experiment and lifestyle.  I kept waiting until I had a little space in my life to reflect and consciously play around with my routines. I did not hold the belief that eating 100 percent raw diet was a guarantee of health and longevity.  It is easy enough to look around at other humans and see that health and longevity have no prescription, but rather some very loose guidelines. So, there was no fear that I would be “poisoning” myself with cooked vegetables, as some raw food gurus have touted.  I had just hoped for a little more ceremony surrounding my first cooked food in years.

 

Kale Chips
Kale Chips

The Return of the Sweet Potato

Yet, time restraints often make eating much more of a practical endeavor these days, driven by the need for efficiency, cost-effectiveness and nutrient-density.  And, though I will always have a passion for a good salad, admittedly, I had gotten in a bit of raw food rut with busy schedules and waning energy. Brad’s raw chips had become a staple in my routine and I had become a bit of a kale chip junkie, getting a little over excited when I would travel and find a new local brand with exotic flavors.  But, as life would have it, amongst my kale chip adventures and salad-making festivities, life afforded me little time for reflection. I knew if I waited for a time when I could create space for some idyllic, meaningful, transitional moment to mindfully prepare and consume some cooked food, I would likely be waiting until the “empty nest” years of life, and that just felt ridiculous.

So, on a dull October afternoon in 2017, I took the gustatory leap and cooked sweet potatoes in the Instant Pot.  There, alone in my kitchen, hovering over the island counter, as I often do at mealtimes, I ate these practical root veggies with my usual dinner salad.   There, that was done. No fanfare ensued. And, for awhile, I enjoyed a monogamous love affair with sweet potatoes. But, eventually, we opened the relationship and shared the love with other cooked veggies, and even an occasional “grain,” like oats, quinoa and wild rice.  It was all very anticlimactic, and happened with ease.

 

Sweet Potatoes & Salad
Sweet Potatoes & Salad w/ Cashew Dressing

Raw Food Reflections

Having traversed the raw to cooked food spectrum, it does feel nice to have a few other foods “on the table” when the raw options are less than ideal, not good quality or expensive, but I do not feel like much else has changed.  As I moved forward with a few tweaks to my long-standing routines, over the next year, some new insights did arise, but, no significant changes in digestion, skin or energy have been apparent.  My raw food experience changed my palate significantly, for which I am thankful. I have continued to prefer and prioritize a “clean,” whole foods vegan diet and quite enjoy simplicity. In my best efforts to feel balanced, stay off medications, and, keep my weight, fitness and emotional health on an even keel as I get older, I hope my food choices, at least, mediate some of the crap my environment throws at me.

That about sums up my “raw reality.”  To many people, I am sure my dietary path seems impractical or “extreme.”  In fact, early on, when occasionally sharing about my dietary choices, I quickly realized that most people didn’t understand what a raw vegan lifestyle entailed, nor did they care to learn more.  Thankfully, I had no need to convince anyone that they should be doing exactly what I was doing. I didn’t even know if I should. For me, my food choices have always evolved organically and I have never forced myself to adhere to any guidelines or rules (for too long, though I often give things a thorough trial-run).  When trying new things, it is important to be mindful of their value and usefulness to your unique life, not simply their theoretical applications.

Side Note About Kids & “Restrictive” Diets

Being vegan has never felt overly restrictive to our family, barring the occasional “hangry” moment out and about, or a kids birthday party devoid of vegan options.  Because it is a conscious choice, based on compassion, once the kids had an awareness of animal agriculture and such, they were generally advocating for themselves with regards to checking if things were vegan.  For the most part, they had plenty of options, and the availability of vegan packaged foods has increase immeasurably, even in their lifetime.

Woodstock Fruit Festial 2016
Woodstock Fruit Festial 2016

Nonetheless, I was especially mindful to try to model a balanced relationship with food for my kids, even though I had some internal struggles along the way.   I recognized, that as they grew and expanded their own understanding, my food ideals were not something I should impose, but rather just share, despite my desire to keep them healthy and on a “clean diet” for as long as I could, before social pressures crept in.  So, though they tried many of the raw vegan dishes I made, I never considered trying to make them adhere to an “all raw” diet. It was my thing and not practical for them.

That is not to say that I am not an avid label reader, nor do I miss any opportunity to educate my kids (or any unfortunate bystanders) about what’s in their food and the health benefits of a “clean,” whole foods diet.  And, I definitely make food purchasing decisions based on my own ethics and values.  But, ultimately, they will have to navigate the environment of abundance (and excess) that we live in on their own.  I just hope that I have given them some things to think about as they venture out more into the world and take on the task of nourishing themselves.

My Advice to Dietary Adventurers

Thus, to those of you looking to improve your health, or interested in testing the boundaries of your social and emotional programming surrounding food, I challenge you to experiment with the variations of a whole foods, plant-based diet.  It makes space for new awareness to arise and can be very healing. On the flip side of that, food is just a tiny part of our whole selves, and forcing any dietary dogma that does not feel purposeful, or brings up a lot of resistance, can do more harm than good.  So, before embarking on any dramatic shift in your dietary patterns, know yourself, your motivations, and find yourself a supportive tribe. Make it a creative experience, not a set of rules imposed upon you by unrealistic ideals or the experience of others.

If there is one thing the raw food lifestyle taught me, it is that no matter which foods you are eating, or not eating, you will bring your habits and beliefs with you.  To get the most out of any experience, you have to continually question those habits and beliefs and align yourself with what feels right in the moment, even if it changes over time.   Meanwhile, nourish all the areas of your life, so you are well-rested, physically and emotionally balanced, creatively content and connected with others that support your growth, even if that includes crazy dietary experiments.  Food is a tool to fuel your creativity in this world, impact the environment around you, connect you to others and bring you greater self-awareness. Use this tool wisely.

 

 

Since mid-life is often a time when we feel the need take stock of our lives, it seems our 25th anniversary is the perfect catalyst for some self-reflection. The meanderings herein are my way of processing and organizing my feelings about marriage and my journey through it, thus far. Make of it what you will.

Quarter Notes

I am not quite sure how Darren and I find ourselves celebrating a quarter century of shared experience; almost 30 years, if you count dating in high school and college. Yet, here we are upon the doorstep of our 25th wedding (elopement) anniversary. I can only speak for myself with regards to this experience. But, having known Darren since I was fifteen years old has given me ample opportunity to notice how his brain works, and, though he would likely express it differently, I suspect we are on the same page… or, at least, in the same book!

I could share some trite anniversary sappiness about the joys of marriage, and my anticipation about what the next twenty-five years will bring. But, truth be told, it has not always been easy, and such sentiments would not express the full picture. And, though my anticipation for our future is real, the reality of our journey to the present cannot be summed up in an inspirational social media meme. Marriage has been the breeding ground for personal growth, fraught with communication hurdles, individual differences and moments of downright doubt and uncertainty. Yet, amongst these challenges have been many beautiful moments, fun adventures, lots of laughter and plenty of valuable insights, some of which I will try to articulate here.

Impulsivity

I had just turned twenty the month before we crossed the border and applied for our marriage license in Bangor, Maine. Needless to say, I didn’t really know who I was, or what I wanted in life at this point. But, I knew I wanted to figure it out together, and I had relative faith that when I arrived at this place of “knowing,” Darren and I would still be on the same path. If not, whatever. I would deal with that later. Impulsivity came easy at twenty. It felt good. We eloped and lived with my parents in Connecticut for six months, while I worked and we waited for Darren’s green card. 

It was an exciting time, marked by the contrast of rapid change and the patience required to do the work needed to facilitate those changes.  I plugged away at a temp job at an engineering company and, he spent his days working out at the gym, studying for the ASVAB exam, and, once he got his green card, doing a few manual labor jobs while he waited to start his military training.  After having spent the past few years serving in the Canadian Reserves, his sole focus was to serve in the U.S. military.  Despite the underlying risks, we rationalized that this was the best route for us to gain some immediate independence, travel opportunities and educational benefits.  Nonetheless, my impulsive nature had to be tempered a bit while we waited for the ball to get rolling

 

Manifesting

Then, just a little more than a year into our time as husband and wife, we moved to Italy, where Darren would be stationed for three years. This was one of those things in my life that I feel like I truly manifested, out of sheer clarity and desire. Ever since I had lived in Spain in my early teens, I knew I wanted to return to spend time living abroad when I “grew up.” A few years later, when I met Darren in Canada in high school, he was inspired by my European vision and made it his own. This shared focus eventually got us to Italy, via the U.S. military, when Darren enlisted as a helicopter mechanic.

Since then, I now see a few other clear manifestations of intent; those times when there was no doubt about what we wanted and the only thing standing in between us and the outcome were the steps we needed to take. The first of these intentions was to get our education. Whether this was fueled by social conditioning or a love of learning was a later point of contemplation, when we began thinking about homeschooling our own kids. Nonetheless, while living in Italy, I plodded away at my bachelors degree, and during his six year enlistment, Darren did the same. At the time, this felt purposeful and I [mostly] enjoyed the experience.

The next intentional pursuit, a handful of years later and back in the States, was starting a family. That took a little introspection, working on my health, and some medical intervention to get the ball rolling. But, three kids later, we had created a family that looked a lot like we had envisioned. Of course, there were a few unexpected twists and a whole new set of filters through which to see the world, too. No regrets there!

One last vision, though mine alone, but impacting both of us, was my conscious effort, starting in 2005, to bring my physical and mental health into better balance. Over the course of a couple years, I released around 100 pounds and a lot of emotional weight, as well. I am thankful for the support I always felt, as I navigated that challenging task and layed down some new neuropathways in my always-busy brain.

Other smaller focused endeavors were scattered around these milestones of travel, education, health and family. Some included career development, more education, creative pursuits, homeschooling our kids, and building community. It seems the first fifteen years of our marriage were a whirlwind of striving towards goals and “building a life,” whereas, for the most part, the last ten feel more like the “maintenance years.” But, even in the process of maintaining status quo, there are creative elements to sharing space, experience and time that have definitely been enhanced by our partnership.

Sailing Away

Yet, in between all these collaborative efforts towards growth, there were times of pulling apart; times when I felt we were not compatible for the long-run and times when I knew Darren felt the same. In the first decade, there was some therapy. It was helpful. Then, life took on a pace of its own. Though our choices have led us to have what would be characterized as a “traditional” relationship, with me fulfilling the role of “homemaker” and, Darren, that of the “breadwinner,” I have never felt traditional or stuck in a role that did not suit me. But, if I’m keeping it real, in the early years of parenthood, my financial dependence on Darren might be a factor in our long-term togetherness, in the sense that it gave me the need to pause and think before acting. Had I had my own financial autonomy, there was a time, or two, when I may have jumped ship when things were not matching up to my soulmate ideal, Oprah-empowered, romanticized vision of the relationship I thought we deserved. And, there was a time when Darren had heard enough Oprah quotes and wanted to take the whole ship and sail away by himself, too!

Thankfully, these experiences helped me learn, early in, that I was responsible for my own feelings. And, though I didn’t always feel understood, I did feel supported in my efforts to sort myself out. We learned that when we endeavor to really understand another person, we feel invested. When we sense the other person is equally invested, we feel we are creating something worthwhile and purposeful. And, meaning and purpose really are the good stuff; the armor that protects us against the apathy that can accompany aging, the fear of the unknown and the inevitable challenges life presents.
Though, with these challenges, there have been times when our understanding of one another has not felt complete, and our desire to “work on” the growth of our relationship has waned, mostly, there was patience, empathy and commitment to sticking with this joint endeavor to see where it would take us. And, as middle-age approached, a deeper appreciation for our shared journey seemed to settle in. That “soulmate” notion of mine had come to see the value of being life partners, each tending to our own souls, and learning the lessons that only existing in relationship can provide.

Communication

In the context of marriage, the need to focus on communication revealed itself slowly over time in our relationship. Coming to understand that good communication was something that needed to be cultivated and nurtured, not a skill we inherently possessed, was a lesson we had to learn through trial and error. The foundation of any relationship is built upon the capacity of those in it to understand one another and a willingness to do the work necessary to reach that place of understanding. The old saying “absence makes the heart grow fonder” has a statute of limitations. Whether it be a physical or an emotional absence, there is a threshold at which we stop creating connection when we are not communicating regularly and/or effectively. Communication is our most valuable tool within relationships and the fuel for the flame of love. And, I have definitely done my part to fan that flame over the years.

Boundaries

I will admit that in the early stages of our relationship, I likely tested the limits of Darren’s love for me. My youthful inner turmoil spilled out all over his placid demeanor and he often got caught in my emotional ramblings, philosophical debates and misguided efforts at communication and personal growth. Over time, I learned to “tame my Gremlin,” and recognized that the expression “don’t dish out what you can’t take,” is a solid guideline for any relationship. And, in hindsight, I can see where, without this dynamic of our distinct personalities, I might have missed the opportunity to move through these lessons with as much clarity and grace. And, I am sure Darren has received a few lessons of his own, too.

Parenting and Marriage

Becoming parents most definitely changed the landscape of our relationship, forcing us to consider, more deeply, the people we wanted to be. I cannot imagine any more profound teachers than my children. They shifted my internal compass away from navigating solely by my own ego, towards the instinctual path of selfless love. They provided the mirror I needed to see my reflection more clearly. Of course, I do not doubt that the complexities of existence could have conjured up some other life path to offer similar wisdom, but, parenting is definitely an efficient means. And, parenting in partnership provides an even better opportunity to know the stuff we are made of. Darren and I are no exception. The insights have been profound and the lessons have not been lost on us.

Marinating in Monogamy

As we became parents, and explored alternative lifestyle choices, like veganism and homeschooling, we naturally started becoming aware of other divergent paths, including the variations of healthy relationship dynamics that fall outside the social norm of monogamy. Early on, had the right opportunity presented itself, I am not so sure we might not have explored those variations, for better, or for worse. But, despite my hesitancy to label relationships or put love in a box, the default of monogamy, with its inherent flaws, always seemed most constructive for us. And, twenty-five years in, its parameters do not feel binding, but rather provide a context in which to narrow my focus, in a world that seems to pull it all over the place. I, also, have a strong sense that Darren and I genuinely want each other to be happy in this life, and work to have open communication, which, I think, allows us to feel like there is always room to grow.

Co-creating

When we are young, in our surge towards independence, we often question the institution of marriage, the need for financial partnerships, and the efficacy of lifelong commitments. I would encourage all young people to consider these topics! Though, I really didn’t. I just jumped in, eyes closed! So, maybe I would caution against too much scrutiny and throw out a reminder that relationships are the fabric of life. Within our social structures, our creative potential can be magnified. Whether it be romantic or otherwise, our connections to others create our story, through which the depth and enjoyment of our experience are dependent. There is only so much we can create in isolation; we need others. But, in hindsight, contemplating those needs early on and defining your own expectations can give you a head start in the relationship department, may save you some personal turmoil and expedite the productivity of your future partnerships!

We are Family

Twenty-five years into this endeavor, our relationship feels like a permanent fixture. We are family. I feel fortunate to have Darren in my life and I feel resolute in my commitment to my own personal growth and to our relationship. I appreciate the platform from which this partnership has allowed me to experience myself. Maybe there have been no Jerry McGuire “you complete me” moments, but, there have been many moments of meeting halfway, sharing the load and giving each other perspective. I take full responsibility for completing myself, for filling up my own cup and for communicating my feelings in an authentic and caring way. This love story may not be one that inspires feature films or steamy romance novels, but it is my story and it inspires me to show up fully and honestly. It has allowed me to experience love, with all its nuances and intricacies. And, it’s not over yet! With any luck, there will be time for more lessons, more moments of co-creative inspiration and the chance to know more of ourselves within relationship to each other.

Final Thoughts

Each marriage is as unique as the individuals that create it.  The examples and wisdom of other married people in our lives offer us information about what we want and don’t want within our own relationship(s), but should never be a steadfast standard by which we measure the success of our own marriage.  Marriage is a creative endeavor, with lots of room for subjectivity, personal preference and individual artistry.  It need not conform to any particular genre, and is measured by individual contentment, not external approval.  Accordingly, if I could give one piece of advice on marriage it would be to be kind; to yourself and to each other. From there, it will be easier to work out the rest. <3