Category Archives: marriage

The MFEO Chronicles: Sarena & Tony

Today, I bring you Sarena and Tony, who I am delighted to introduce in the next installment of The MFEO Chronicles.

Though we have never met in person (it WILL happen, it MUST!), I truly feel Sarena and Tony are kindred spirits, in a way, so much in common, similar humor, interests and personality, and I just adore these two (and I swear, Tony is the long-lost brother I never had! Love that guy!). And, not only do they strike me as the most genuine, real, and compassionate souls, they have the most beautiful story as a couple, and their story of longevity, fighting against the odds and being the life partner they both need in every single way, is just so inspiring and makes me smile from head to toe.

Enjoy – and thank you Sarena and Tony, for sharing your story. It truly is an honor to share it. <3.

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I have to admit, when Jolene asked me to write a little bit about my marriage to share here with you guys, I got a little freaked out. I don’t believe in superstition (as I sit here with a black cat in front of me), but you know, putting my personal thoughts on my relationship with my husband gave me that brief thought of is this the kiss of death? What do I know about relationships? We aren’t perfect and I’m sure we don’t have all the answers. Then I thought about it for a minute and laughed at myself. Of course it’s not the kiss of death. We are more than that. So much more.
 
 
I met my husband Tony when we were 19. Yep, that would be shortly after high school. Looking back, we thought we were adults. Looking at it now, we were kids. Smart kids, since we knew to hold on to each other, but kids just the same. I said it then and I will say it now, we are old souls meant to be together. I really feel like we were together in another life. We met in college. Tony was in the art program and I was in the culinary arts program at The Art Institute in Atlanta. He caught my eye immediately. Cutie, that man was (and still is). You know, those butterflies in the stomach…yeah, those were going crazy! Tony is the first guy that ever opened the door for me. I had never met a truly nice guy that wanted to hang out with me. We were that annoying inseparable couple (and still are now) that everyone rolls their eyes at. From there, we got married a little over a year later. Twenty years old getting hitched. I know! CRAZY! We actually got married against the odds. My parents wanted nothing to do with me getting married. They didn’t come to my wedding and actually planned an event so that nobody from my side of the family would come to my wedding. That was hard for me, but I was marrying the man of my dreams. My relationship with Tony has taught me so much about love and what family really is. The most important thing Tony has taught me, what I believe is the key to a happy marriage, is unconditional friendship and love.

Wedding001

That word, unconditional, that is an important word. You see, I do not have all the answers as far as love goes. Tony and I are a normal married couple. We have had our down times too. We aren’t perfect! I know, it’s shocking even for me to admit. I kid, I kid. You know what we are, we are friends that understand that life is about adapting and understanding. The only thing that we can be assured of is change. It’s how we work together to get through the change that really makes us a great team.
 
 
I was that girl that had these grand thoughts on what life would be when I grew up, got married, had babies and got older. Well, life is nothing like I thought it would be. I think we all want that romantic movie where everything is perfect and happy. You get that big break and everything works out in the end. Am I right?
 
 
News flash, life is definitely not easy. However, being married to my best friend, has definitely made this little adventure called life so much better. It’s that unconditional love and friendship that has gotten us where we are today. In the last (almost) 20 years (please don’t do that math on that) Tony and I have become stronger through failed family relationships, emergency surgeries (his), the birth of our 2 beautiful boys, 2 miscarriages, tumors (mine) and career changes.
 
 
Don’t get me wrong, my life is amazing. I love every minute of it. I’ve come to realize that my relationship with Tony really has pulled me through those hard times. Unconditional love is the key for us.
 
Knowing, that in the hard times, he is always there for me no matter what and that I’m there for him no matter what always gives us a sense of safety. I do feel like I’m one of the lucky ones. I found my soul mate early on. We have literally been together longer than we’ve been apart in our lives. It’s so strange to think about it that way. I never take our relationship for granted. It’s special and I am forever grateful for having Tony in my life.  We are definitely MFEO.Tony's Class Reunion

Sometimes, you just realize.

Sometimes, the seemingly smallest things stop you dead in your tracks, and make you realize what a crazy, amazing, blessed life you have.

Something as small as this – a promotion Facebook did to celebrate their sixth birthday – creating a video of your first and biggest moments on Facebook, and I sit here in a puddle of tears, in awe, over what the last six years has brought me, and conversely, what I have made of it.

…my first moments on Facebook include my beautiful Nala and Kayla, seeing Nala as the very first picture made me cry right away, I miss her so, but equally love that this was the start of my six years. Because soon after was when I began my journey, and where my kitties became my companions, my support, my laughter, when I was sad, when I was alone, when I was learning to be myself again.

…one of my more popular posts was this one, from September 2012: “I am pretty sure I am the luckiest girl alive – with M” the day after our engagement. Even in that less than two years, and less than 4 since we met and married, that statement couldn’t be more true then, or now.

…my most popular posts were our ‘surprise‘ marriage, and becoming homeowners. Both of those have me beaming with pride, love and blessings.

It’s so funny how something as ‘trivial’ as a social media gimmick to promote Facebook’s ‘birthday’ has me sitting here in stunned silence. The last six years have been nothing short of life-changing forever. From a then 28 year old married woman who knew nothing about herself, to a divorced 29 year old starting fresh and from scratch, in quite literally every way, from home, to finances, to self, to body, to love, to today, 34 years old, married to the love of my life and in what could very well be our ‘forever’ home, and I am feeling unbelievably blessed.

e86a3f50e69e0d14be3b5948c851da5fSometimes it truly is just taking a step back and reminding yourself where you came from, where you are today, and where you can go from here. The possibilities are endless.

<3

Nailed it 2013 (and what to nail in 2014)

I loved this idea for a post that Christine wrote and thought I would do my own little take on it, partially as a look back at the year, but also reflecting on areas ‘to nail’ in 2014. Not so much goals, but moreso in the quest of my ‘perfectly imperfect’ journey.

What I’ve nailed in 2013?

Let’s see, I think I’ve done a pretty good job with these, but you’ll notice some of them show up in the ‘what to nail’ list below, and hey, that’s okay. Some of these are ongoing and reminders to me constantly.

  1. Nixing the numbers fixation. I struggled with this a LOT in 2012 and the early part of 2013. From weight, to miles, to food, to everything. I felt compelled to quantify everything, when really, who cares? Who am I competing against but myself, and even then, why is it a competition? It’s not, so cut the sh*t and just live.
  2. Learning to let go. This is a work in progress, but I do feel like I’ve made some big strides here. This really ties in to number one, above, too, because part of my numbers fixation is all about control and *not* letting go. And I am trying to apply this to all areas of my life, including my marriage, because I never want to fall into the trap of constantly nagging, complaining, nitpicking over seriously non-issues, when there is a man that loves me for me, that would do anything for me, that lets E-V-E-R-Y-thing roll off his back and yet, I sit there, uptight and nudgy half the time. That’s ridiculous and not even worth it. So I am learning. And trying to step back, breathe, and then react.
  3. Balancing the ‘me’ workouts with those I teach at barre n9ne. I think every instructor or trainer must face this at one point or another, how to balance their own ‘me’ workouts with those they teach. At first, I tried to keep my usual barre/running routine *and* my classes (which could range anywhere from 6-9 classes a week), but that quickly became a ‘HARDER, not SMARTER’ routine and I was getting nowhere. So I stopped taking classes and just taught them, and ran. And that didn’t feel quite right either, because the first time I took a class in a month, I felt AMAZING after and I realized how much I missed TAKING classes, not just teaching them. So I found my balance in taking a couple of classes a week – less if I taught more, more if I taught less, as schedule allowed – and I think it has not only made me stronger and feel more fit, it has made me a better instructor. I can weave in new combinations of moves I observe other instructors do while I take their class, I realize how certain moves stacked with others tire the body (in a good way) and think about new ideas for my own class structures, and it just lets my mind roam and feel the workout in a way that I don’t feel when I am teaching, and making sure clients are in proper form etc.
  4. Prioritizing.  This has been HUGE for me. I was feeling so rush-rush-rush and busy all.the.time until I started saying no. Until I started prioritizing and putting my time where it mattered most, not spread so thin that I barely enjoyed any of it. I am definitely keeping this one on the list for 2014 and beyond, because prioritizing is truly the simplest way to happiness.
  5. Marrying M. I file this under ‘nailed it’ because, six months ago today, I married the man I was meant to be with, and with each day that passes, I realize more I love about M, more qualities that I adore about him, and more I want to explore and learn together in our marriage. And in the literal sense, I married M in the most perfect way for us than I could have ever imagined. Quietly. Small. In a place that we love, Healdsburg. What more could we have asked for? Bliss.

What to nail in 2014…

  1. Letting go. This is one I have just started to ‘feel’ happening, the change towards letting go and not being so damn particular about things, and I am excited to see it continue to take shape in 2014. It’s been worth it to step back, to release control, especially in my marriage with M, to give that to him more, since he is so laid back and easy about life, the ‘control’ tends to shift to me, and I don’t always think that is best, because it just feeds into my type A-ness and not the good qualities of being type A. And it allows me to sit back and slow down more, when I let go, observe and BE.
  2. Not taking others’ actions so personally. This one has reared its ugly head in the last oh, six months or so, and it’s driving me crazy. There are a few instances of things that have happened in my life that I took SO damn personally and stepping back, they truly had nothing to do with me, as a friend, employee, person. Yet I allowed it to attack my psyche, to bring me down, to draw out the cattiness and some resentment. And those are  ugly qualities. No more. I draw the line here.
  3. Allowing imperfection (more). Dirty dishes, being late (oh this one drives me crazy, but once in awhile, is being say, 5 mins late, for example, the worst thing and reason to get all bent over? uhh no.), changing plans or course of action. Letting these things happen. Letting go, per #1 as above ;)
  4. Stop the comparison trap for good. I really DID nix this one almost entirely this year – tying into the numbers fixation issue I mentioned above, but once in awhile, it still comes back. And it again brings about ugly traits, jealousy, bitterness, frustration. And I am NOT that person. So I vow to rid myself of this need to compare, compare, compare. This isn’t a competition or a race. Compare to nobody, not even yourself.
  5. Slowing down. I have LOVED the slowdown challenge and getting into The In-Between, I just drink up the words and want to sear them into memory forever. There is just so much you see, learn and experience when you slow down, strip away the complications, and keep it simple. It’s truly amazing.

So, there you have it…some things I’ve nailed in 2013 and more I plan to nail in 2014, along with living with intention, of course. What I found most interesting in putting this list together, is how many of them tie together so well, and the themes that rise out of these – simplicity, balance, and embracing. I’d say that’s the only way to live, don’t you?

On reminiscing, milestones, and gratitude.

As we head into Thanksgiving, I love reading friends’ blogs, Facebook, and instagram posts about giving thanks, and gratitude and pending excitement over the kick off to the holiday season, but I tend not to write posts during this time of year about what I am thankful for…partially in line with a post Lindsay wrote once, about being thankful daily, not just once a year (so true!).

But as I looked through some past posts I  had written about the holidays, I realized something. Thanksgiving has been a hugely symbolic part of my journey, starting five years ago, to today.

Five years ago was my first Thanksgiving alone. It was a very raw and emotional time as my separation was just weeks prior, and as hard as it was, having my sister Jen by my side that day made all the difference in the world, and was probably one of the most selfless things she could have done for me that day, and to this day, those memories sit in my heart warmly and is a time I will never forget.

Four years ago was my first Thanksgiving (and set of holidays) that I truly and 100% looked forward to. I adored being able to take these holidays as MINE and to go whereever I wanted, spend time with family that cared about me, and not have to split my time with an in-law side that, well, didn’t like me. They lived two states away, which meant entirely splitting up holidays every other year, and not being able to see my family on Thanksgiving or Christmas, every year. So, to have a blank slate and be able to spend the holidays my way felt like a rare treat.

Three years ago, I was welcomed into M’s family, for the first time. I spent Thanksgiving evening with his family, meeting many of them for the first time. And it was then that I realized my relationship with M was special. If only I know where we’d be three years later…

Two years ago, we spent Thanksgiving together, with my family and M’s family, for the first time. We were living together, and it was our first year to celebrate the holidays in our own place, starting new traditions, and sharing in every moment together.

This year? Wow. We own our first house together. We are married (! I still love saying that, and calling him my husband, and can’t believe it’s only been 5 months!). And we will host our families together, for the very first time. I plan to soak in every minute, amid the chaos and hustle and bustle of hosting a big crowd for Thanksgiving, but I couldn’t be more thankful or more happy at where my life – our lives – are now. As our story continues.

Cheers, and to those that celebrate, happy Thanksgiving!

A fun lesson in stepping back and letting go.

Last week, I found myself going into ‘nitpicky’ mode over a few type A peeves of mine with M. Leaving his belt on the bed. Every.single.night. when he gets home from work. Leaving the little tag from his dry cleaned shirt on the floor, and his socks balled up ON THE BUREAU, to name a few (hee), and it would put me into a sour mood for a stupid reason and it would snowball a bit from there. I was mad at myself for getting irritated, as it’s not the biggest deal for *me* to just pick them up, but once in awhile, I just feel like I am constantly walking around and picking up after what hurricane M has left behind ;-)

On Saturday morning, after I got home from my b9 classes, M hugged me and sighed and said “I feel like we haven’t been ourselves lately. And I want to fix that.”

And it made me realize that I was a huge part of why we weren’t ourselves last week and not entirely connected. Silly reasons. Valid frustrations, sure, but legit problems? No. Not a chance.

So, I stepped back, and I told him I was sorry for being nitpicky and grumpy and naggy all week and I wanted to make the day better, and take a fresh perspective and outlook. Just breathe, shake it off, and move forward. Because, let’s face it, I have an amazing husband (and yes, he too, has an amazing wife, just sayin. hee), we have built an amazing life together, and there is no sense nitpicking the week away.

Beyond the nitpicking, I also notice that I have been far too controlling in what we make for dinner, how we decide what to have and what we make on date nights, particularly (date night in, our specialty!). So I issued a challenge that would be far ‘harder’ for me than it would be for M.

I tasked M with making ME dinner from start to finish, and I was not allowed to meddle, to clean around him, to tell him to cook ‘neater’ (yes, yes, I do actually say that…LOL), and just roll with it. And next weekend, I would do the SAME for him. A fun challenge, if you ask me, and a way to appreciate each other. M tagged pictures on instagram as #wifeappreciation dinner and I shall do the same next weekend. As much as I thought it would be hard to be in the dark, to stay out of the kitchen, and trust that whatever he would make would not only be tasty, but would also not break the caloric bank ;-)

It turned into a lesson for me of taking a step back, releasing control, and embracing M for who is he – perhaps a messy cook, but a damn good one at that, and a man that truly DOES appreciate me, that does love and support me, and that may toss his socks and belt aside, but in the grand scheme, doesn’t matter in the slightest. And it turned into one of our most connected evenings together of late, and a needed one at that.

Sometimes releasing control and stepping back is far more valuable than I ever thought it would be.

Perfectly imperfect, and always learning and embracing.