Tag 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.

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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

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?

Where our story continues…celebrating ‘at home’

Wow, I really don’t mean for my posts lately to be so far apart ;-)

But, this delay came with good reason. I wanted to share the next in my little mini-series on celebrating our marriage and our new home, with family and friends, this past weekend.

You see, several months back, I sent out a ‘save the date’ housewarming invitation via Facebook to our closest friends and family to make sure the people I cared about most could come and celebrate with us for our wedding reception thinly veiled as a housewarming party. While yes, it was indeed a party for both, we truly envisioned this day being the day we would celebrate with those that were not with us in wine country on our wedding day, and share in the joy of the next stage of our story.

And this weekend, that very celebration commenced. While not all of those I hold dear to me were able to make it (life happens…), we had such an amazing turnout of family, friends, coworkers and barre n9ne ‘family’ – it was just incredible. From family all uniting together, and even my aunt from Minnesota flew in to celebrate with us (meant the WORLD to me), spending the afternoon talking and laughing and showing everyone around the house, to playing with my niece as she ran like the wind through the yard, playing, and ‘showing off’ as she carefully walked across our stone fence holding auntie’s hand ever so slightly as she went, to the feeling of pride spread across our faces as we showed our family our home, some of which were seeing it for the very first time.

On to wave two of the party, the friend ‘part’ and we had that moment of….crickets…are as many people going to come as said they would?! As we looked around at the 18 bottles of wine, countless cases of beer, mounds of appetizers, catered BBQ and two ginormous cakes. And then suddenly, in a wave, a flurry of people came, and celebrated, and it was just the most fun and blur of an evening all wrapped into one (now I totally get how a) people say their wedding reception was a blur…this in itself was a blur and I felt like I barely saw M all night and b) how tiring throwing big parties really is!!).

As we wrapped up the evening after about 10 hours of nonstop activity, we opened some of the gifts our families and friends brought us and were just blown away by the thoughtfulness. From the stone my sister Jen gave us with our last name engraved on it for the yard to the wine box holder to store wine for our first, third and fifth wedding anniversaries (with a special bottle tucked away in the fifth ‘holder’) from Jess, to the carefully selected bottles of wine, to personalized wall plaques and pictures, we just felt so happy, loved and honored.

Collapsing into bed, I don’t think I have ever smiled more. In the home we have now ‘christened’ with family and friends, in our first big party, everything just felt more right than it has ever been. Our story…where it continues, feels complete. In every way. <3

6-30-2013

Where our story continues…the details.

It has been so much fun sharing the details (read them here here and here) of our wedding, finally, after keeping them largely quiet for so long! I thought I would share some fun details from our wedding week fun :-)

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Special wine glasses for our guests (I freaked out when I realized two days before we left that I had neglected to do ANYTHING for those that came on our trip, but thanks to etsy and an awesome seller that was able to overnight these to the house we rented at a really reasonable price, we made it happen!)

"When wine enlivens the heart, may friendship surround the table" - the most perfect and fitting quote ever!
“When wine enlivens the heart, may friendship surround the table” – the most perfect and fitting quote ever!

My something borrowed, something new and something blue? A bracelet my sister Jess wore when she got married nine years ago, from my mom (doubling as ‘something old’ because I forgot the necklace my Nonna gave me years ago, that I intended to wrap around flowers, but as I ended up deciding against flowers anyway, it worked!), something new, the Alex and Ani bracelet I wore on the right arm, and my something blue? My most fabulous shoes of course :)

Since it was going to be about a bazillion degrees out (clocked in as the hottest day of our entire 10 day trip – 105 degrees! figures, right?), I planned ahead and bought a cute white sundress and white bikini. I think it is one of my favorite bathing suits this summer! Why not wear white all summer right?

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And the bachelorette-but-I-didn’t-call-it-a-bachelorette party? I hashtagged it #shenanigans and it would the most fun night ever…complete with the most epic hangover of my entire life. But seriously worth it. (note to self: champagne and prosecco give a MEAN HANGOVER!! Tasting room manager at one of our fave tasting rooms gave me a tip: look for small bubbles! the bigger the bubbles the bigger the hangover. Noted.) We stayed in Boston, gussied ourselves up and enjoyed an evening of dinner, drinks, and girly girl time. It was fabulous. I LOVE this picture of us all at the Liberty Hotel!

bachAnd finally? Our honeymoon. No, our trip was not our honeymoon ;-) Go big or go home, right? We booked that for October 2014 (a mere 18 months away…!) in St. Lucia. This way, we extend the fun and excitement, celebrate not only our one year (plus!) or marriage, but also BOTH of our 35(!!!!)th birthdays! (since we were born 3 days apart and all). We are very excited!!

So, there you have it, a few more details for the most perfect 10 days ever, and the most amazing and incredible start to our marriage that I could have ever asked for. Feeling loved a million times over. <3

Where our story continues…M’s perspective.

M decided to write his own blog on our marriage, and with his permission, I am sharing it here for you all. Reading through this brought tears to my eyes…and though I am not one to put much behind a palm reader, but it is pretty incredible, isn’t it? I continue to feel so blessed, incredibly loved, and connected to M, as we begin our walk through marriage, it is the most settling, happy feeling I have ever encountered. Life has led me – and us – here, to this very place, and I couldn’t be happier. <3

Enjoy.

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You know, I’ve never doubted for a second that life is above all things unpredictable.  You live, you die….everything including happiness is optional.  If you told me three years ago that I’d be happily re-married to the absolute love of my life, I would have told you you were looney tunes.  I had given up. I figured “one strike, and you’re out!” I remember going to a palm reader at a haunted house the October after my separation from my ex and the person told me I’d be remarried within 5 years. I should have saved her business card for a rainy day. Anyways…and then, it happened. I went from down and out, single, battered and bruised…to back on top (TWSS) feeling like I’m on top of the world.

She’s truly the love of my life.  We’re the best of friends and companions, the best of lovers, we love so much of the same things, and our families love the both of us. Outside of marrying the absolute best woman in the whole wide world, I’ve also inherited the best brother and sister-in-law combo that a guy could ask for. As this would be both our second marriages, we opted for a small, intimate engagement with close friends in wine country. Close friends, wine, marriage… kinda like peanut butter, jelly, and bread, right????

The scene plays over and over in my head.  She was so beautiful in her wedding dress as she is always beautiful no matter what. So what if it was 110 degree at the top of an arid, grassy hill.  The view was amazing! And as our close friends watched we recited our vows. Now, I’ve always been a procrastinator and my motto always has been “why do calmly today what you can rush through like an absolute maniac tomorrow” but I actually had worked on these vows for quite some time.  In fact, what I recited was version 7. It seemed fitting. I knew it was right because reading them to myself actually evoked a deep emotional response, something that for me is very difficult to do.

Our good friend, Jim, was our JP and he married us. When it was my turn I started to recite my vows and had to pause a few  times to make sure I could go on. I looked at the page, I read, but, honestly, I didn’t look at the page for a lot of it, because a lot of it came from deep within my heart.

I told her that when I said “I love you” I was making her a promise. I promised to love her forever. I promised to keep her safe. I promised to respect her. I promised to stand with her when the world seemed against her. I promised to support her in every way. I promised that her life would be mine and vice versa. I promised to hold her tight, to make her laugh, to hold her hand…I promised I would be her’s if she’d be mine (taken from Mumford and Sons)…I promised I would support her through anything she wanted to do with her Barre9 carreer, and, yes, her LuluLemon habit. But ultimately I told her that I felt like I was the luckiest man in the world….because she loved me back. And I truly still feel that way. I always will

And, then, that was it. We kissed. Everyone clapped. We all smiled. It was a special day. A day I won’t soon forget. One time, about a year ago, she planned this elaborate surprise party for me. I give her credit, it was awesome. I walked into our old apartment…SURPRISE!!!!! Everyone was there….everyone important to me. Friends from every circle intermingling, talking, laughing, mixing together….it was, what I truly believe, what heaven would be like. But, I was wrong….heaven wouldn’t be that. Heaven would be all those people, our families…..in wine country, on that hill…laughing, talking, just being together. Not a worry in the world, just love, innocence, safety, and total utter satisfaction.

I hope I get there….. someday.

<3 his face here.