Today, my husband and I celebrate our 4th wedding anniversary.

Yesterday, while we were on a walk, I reminded him of this, and he asked,
“So, how long have we been together now?”
I replied, “It’s our wedding anniversary plus 10 years.”
— “Oh, right”, he said.

It really does feel like forever — I’ve ran out of fingers to count the years. It’s hard to imagine what it felt like before I met him. It’s like trying to imagine what it’s like to live without a sibling or parent — it’s just hard to imagine because they’ve always been there.

What’s so peculiar is that it wasn’t until more recently, maybe within the last year or so, that I reached this sudden realization that this was for life. It’s not like on your wedding day when you make this vow of forever, you make that promise — no, this was different, I suddenly just *knew*, and now, I exist differently because of it. It’s the epitome of reassurance and comfort to have a friend, and more importantly, an ally or comrade for life, and to feel like the Universe has got your back, at least on this — which is arguably the most important thing in life anyway. We were meant to do life together.

Over the years, I’ve tried to write about love, but it’s very difficult to write — at least realistically and truthfully. I think *this* is just so difficult to describe, even for a writer. We’re constantly growing and learning what all of this means. And, I’ve kind of come to the conclusion that no one can really teach you about love, similarly to no one can really teach you about life. It’s one of those things you have to learn yourself. I’m grateful that I get to learn about love and life with Thomas. There are billions of people on earth, and somehow, someway, our histories, our lives, they decided to intertwine. I’ve had poor luck with friendships and finding others I can connect with, yet, somehow, I hit the lottery with you. What a blessing.

 

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How to Fight Like a Grown-Up

Jiu Jitsu for Beginners

Nope, it’s not what you’re thinking – this is not a martial arts crash course. Not to mention, if you’re looking for street fights, you’re definitely in the wrong section of the internet. This article is all about handling opposition and having adult arguments, with a few tidbits thrown in about basic grown-up communication. We’ve all seen Reddit forums and the Youtube comments section. Fun Fact: That’s not how communication works in the real world.

Fight Like a Grown Up

Let’s face it, it’s not easy keeping your cool when discussing what you’re passionate about. It’s not easy composing yourself when you’re being insulted. I get that, and I struggle with this just as much as everyone else, but part of being an adult is controlling your emotions, being conscious of your behavior, and always being the bigger and better person.

What does it mean to fight like a grown up? It means being patient and kind even when you don’t feel like it. Remember that you catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar. You’re more likely to be taken seriously if you’re a kind person. You’re more likely to get what you want if you’re a patient person. Do you want others to respect you? Then don’t be an asshole. Regardless of your motives, pure or not, unless you’re a powerful figure in this person’s life, the best way to get your way is by playing nice.

Grow Some Armor

Thick skin! Get it here!

Remember this: Hurt people hurt people. Chances are, this person is being a prick because they’re going through some tough shit in their life, or they’re just a bad, mean person. Either way, you’re not a therapist. And, regardless of whether or not you feel their behavior is their fault or not, you still don’t deserve it.

“Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured.” — Mark Twain

Warning Signs

Is this conversation literally going in circles? Is there an exchange of point-of-view and information? Exchanging insults doesn’t count. Are they reasonable? Is their perception of the world so out-there, so odd, and skewed that you’re basically wasting your time? Do they scream at waitresses? Are they drunk? <– This matters.

You Can’t Get Along With Everyone

It might be hard to accept that you, or I, could possibly be disliked! With all our great personality and fabulous good looks! Realize that everyone has their own taste, their own preferences. Personalities clash and sometimes it just doesn’t work. You don’t like every single person you meet, right? That would be weird.

Swallow Your Pride

Knowing how and when to apologize is essential to fighting like an adult. We don’t always apologize because we’re wrong. In fact, sometimes we apologize when we truly believe we’re right! The thing is, deep down, in your grown-up-gut, you know that there is still room for improvement. A grown up knows that in all situations, we all could have done things differently. We all could have been better somehow. Being an adult is knowing you could do better and then going and being better.

Fighting Tactics 101

Those who claim to NEVER experience conflicts with their friends or significant others are 100% full of shit. Either they’re lying to your face they or they literally never disagree with anything. It’s also possible that they’re such a doormat that they refuse to have opinions. Either way, that’s a disaster waiting to happen.

Now, I’m no communication expert, and honestly, I have a lot of work to do myself, but I have a basic understanding of what it means to not be an asshole.

What you shouldn’t do:
Yell, call them an idiot, or anything else that constitutes as an insult.
Pull past resentments out of your top hat.
Avoid the topic, avoid how you feel, or what you think the solution should be.

What you should do:
Not engage while angry. Cool down first, then approach the problem. (Vent to a trusted friend or family member, first, if need be. Get advice on how to approach the situation while you’re at it.)
State clearly, and concisely your side of the story and/or what you’re upset about.
Listen intently their side of the story and learn as much as you can.
If you’re going around in circles, walk away.

Apologize, Dammit!

Did you hurt someone? Then you need to apologize and try to do better next time.

In order to make a grown up apology, you first need to know what you have done wrong and actually find it in your cold-dead-heart of yours to regret what has happened. Ask yourself: What did I do? What should I have done instead?

Just because you’re making an apology, doesn’t mean that you’re not allowed to explain yourself, however, that doesn’t mean you can excuse yourself. That’s the other person’s job.

Now What?

Graciously accept apologies, even if you’re still angry. Do not accept apologies for repeated transgressions. At the end of the day, we need to remember that people change on their own terms and in their own time – if ever. In the meantime, accept this terrible thing that this person keeps doing.

Decide whether or not they are deal-breakers before moving forward. No one is perfect. Everyone you meet will have good and bad qualities. However, everyone you meet will also have a list of standards that must be met (or a line that cannot be crossed). For me, good-personhood is a deal breaker. I value being a good person, and it is something I want for myself, therefore, I want the internal compass of those I call my friends to be at least mostly in line with mine.

If you cannot accept an apology, be honest. Let them know in a calm and clear way that you cannot or will not move forward from this.

You can say something like, “I understand that you’re sorry and I appreciate you making sure I know that. However, I really don’t think we can be close anymore, and I need you to respect that. If anything changes in the future, I promise to reach out.” This in no way guarantees that when you do, possibly, reach out, they’ll want anything to do with you, but the point is that you made an effort to be honest and (not make a scene).

Being an adult sucks, doesn’t it? Mouthing off really does feel better, but mouthing off doesn’t actually help us make or maintain our relationships in the long run.

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There was no cake.

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I just turned 25. Growing older is rough – I’d like to think it is for everybody. As morbid pathetic dramatic as it sounds, that’s just another year closer to death. That’s my life slipping through my fingers. That’s time running out.

I’m not bitter. I’m not resentful. I’m just a little bit sad.

Sure, I should be focusing on the growing of wisdom and self, but that’s not where I am right now. If or when I do get there, it’ll be a miracle.

But, never mind that for now. Let me tell you what happened on my 25th birthday.

It started with french toast.

I woke up to the smell of cinnamon. Sticky fingers — maple syrup all over my keyboard — this was the ideal way to start the day. I brushed my teeth, slipped on a skater dress, popped over a cardigan and headed out to Time Square. We were 2 and a half hours early before the first showing of Ant-Man. I’m always early to everything.

There was food. As it should be.

We walked into B.B. Kings. There wasn’t a single soul in this dim lit bar scene. I ordered crawfish. We sat there for an hour oohing and aahing over the food. Thomas proceeded to teach me how to eat pasta properly. “From the edge inwards,” he said. I just sort of stabbed my fork into the bowl and twisted. The food was amazing.

(Which reminds me, I still need to yelp them.)

I just wanted to have fun, you know? Forget for a moment that time was running out. Why the hell am I so dramatic? 

We went to Walgreens and bought 4 king size snickers, a mini-can of pringles, and a turkey sandwich. Of course, I’m always prepared to sneak food into the theater.

Still, we had 45 minutes to kill. We rode escalators. I beat Thomas at a game of Pacman.

We saw the Ant-Man in 3D.

The day ended with an open seat on the train and no incredibly annoying leg-spreader sitting next to me.

So what if there was no cake? It’s not like I ever wait until someone’s birthday to eat cake anyway.

I wrote this on my 25th birthday last year, on a crowded train coming home from Time Square, with Thomas hovering above me holding on to the railing, as he always does. Ironically enough, today is his 29th birthday. I was searching through #tags, looking for anything I wrote that included the word”birthday”, which is a kind of ritual for me – something I do each year. 

Birthdays are hard for both of us. It leaves us with a heavy heart. It makes us cranky. As I wrote above, growing older is rough. It’s like that one Adele song, “We were sad of getting old, it made us restless.” 

Thomas and I have known each other for nearly half of our lives. We’ve seen each other struggle and flourish. Much of which was thanks to each other. At times it was very hard. From all directions, we faced a lot of resistance since the early part of our relationship – when we were literally just kids. For over a decade, we have been a solace to each other. My husband is a sanctuary. I often think if our bond was not as strong as it is today, the last few years would have been very taxing on our relationship because it was very taxing on our individual selves. Life was (is) hard. No one wants a life of struggle where the finish line only gets repeatedly pushed back, until, well, it’s your time to go.

Beyond under-employment and financial struggles, I had experienced a late-term miscarriage followed by many fertility and reproductive health concerns that were not only wearing on my physical health but also my emotional and mental health. It was not an easy recovery, and an on-going one it still is.

The thing is, there won’t always be cake. But life isn’t necessarily about the cake, or the reward, or the finish line. It’s often about the journey. When you reflect back, it may make you a little bit sad, like it does for me. You can feel that. When the memory tugs at your heart, feel it, validate it, embrace it. 

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10 Tips For A Blissful Marriage

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I wanted to do something a little different for this blog post! Because my husband and I are celebrating our 3 year wedding anniversary this month ( as well as 12 years together), I thought it would be fun to share some of what we’ve experienced in our relationship and what I think brings out that sort of peace, bliss, and harmony that makes our relationship as wonderfully bright as it is. I don’t share too many intimate details about my life on this blog, but, believe it or not, my husband is SUPER-involved in this blog! Everything you see here – recipes, meal plans, budgeting, hauls, thrifting – all of it, he helps me write! He is also in-the-loop about everything I’m working on in terms of personal and professional goals (writing, blogging, teaching, ect.). That type of involvement is a huge indication of how much we are not only friends and lovers,  but incredibly strong allies too.

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Little background on us:

We’ve been together since high school. Picture this: me kicking the back of his chair in class. Instead of listening to our teacher, I was dropping pencils and kicking them under his chair just so he would pick it up, turn around, and I could melt into a puddle of feelings in front of him. LOL.

It is definitely something special to grow up with the one you love and I’m sure there is nothing quite like it. I’m sure you can imagine how much we have changed, evolved, and grown since our teens. Our bond is not based on common interests as much as it is based on loyalty, as well as a foundation that has been built and maintained for over a decade.

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So here are my top 10 tips for a happy (and lasting) marriage:

    1. First things first? Build a foundation before jumping into bed with them. Get to know this person before becoming intimate. This is sort of a “traditional” idea, but there is a reason why this has been said for generations. If you’re seriously looking for companionship, you have to take it slow and get to know them. Once you’re filled with all of that lustful sexual energy, you really aren’t able to see them for who they are as a person. You will be fixated on the sex and the “fire”, and yes, that part of the relationship is amazing, but it will not last if you reach for it too quickly. You won’t be able to take your hands off each other, but that is the ONLY ATTRACTION you will be able to maintain, if even, and that will NEVER be enough.
    2. Let’s say you have build your foundation, and you’ve let your brains dance a little bit. Yes, intimacy is important. Physical touch reminds our partner that we are wanted. This does not always mean sex. Touch your partner. It doesn’t even need to be in a sexual way. All touch releases oxytocin. Kisses here and there. Massages. Grasping their hand. It goes a long way.
    3. Be thoughtful. One of the things that I love about my husband is how thoughtful he is. He is so present in our relationship and it is evident that he thinks about me in his day to day. It’s the little things. It REALLY is about the small details such as bringing home your partner’s favorite drink, meal, snack, or picking up an item they’ve been eyeing for a while.
    4. Lift up and encourage your partner. I really do owe a lot of my personal, academic, and professional accomplishments to my husband. When he believes in me, I feel like I can do anything.
    5. Help your partner be the best version of themselves. A lot of people think they can change their partners or that they can be projects, and in thinking this way, we dehumanize them. Our partners cannot be molded into what we want, and in no way should we pull them away from their true selves. Help them be more themselves every day. Help them realize their GOOD QUALITIES, their passions – motivate them in their interests, and push them to pursue them. Love should open the world to us and give us freedom to go after anything we seek.
    6. Never ever talk badly about your partner to other people. Sure, there is nothing wrong with asking for advice from your mother, but ultimately, the answer will always come from within. Never post your problems on social media. That is a big no-no.
    7. Respect their privacy. That also plays a bit on #6. When you share information about your personal life with other people, you’re not respecting your partner’s privacy. Plain and simple! How would you feel if everyone knew your personal business? Not so good, I bet. Also, realize that your partner is their own person and they exist outside of your relationship. You are not entitled, even when married, to every detail of their life. If there is love, trust, and a strong bond, you will hear it willingly from your spouse. In the meantime, respect their privacy and space. Allow them ownership of themselves. 
    8. Take care of yourself. The best thing you can do for your partner is to take care of yourself. Your spouse is neither your babysitter or parent! You are allies, a team. Again, you are your own person. You are not an extension of your spouse. You must have your own plans, your own goals, your own visions.
    9. Learn and grow (in knowledge) together. Expanding your horizons; learning and growing in knowledge does WONDERS for your quality of life. It’s all in the brain. Stay engaged and engage each other. Get each other thinking. Discuss. Connect. This really helps with the communication aspect of a relationship, as well. Being able to have rewarding and nourishing discussions will be the motivation you need to talk about the hard stuff when they come up. For me, being engaged is a huge factor in not only attraction but also bonding. The truth is, I am easily bored. I love to discuss ideas and learn from other people. If I feel like I cannot learn anything from you, I probably won’t talk to you very much. 
    10. Listen – even when you’d rather respond. Even when you’re not interested. The fact that your partner is excited to share with you what excites him/her is a big deal and a sign of love. Acknowledge their excitement! Be happy for their happiness. 

I hope you folks found this useful or helpful. Let me know if any of this resonates with you. Anything you think I should be adding to this list? Let me know in the comments!

Always lead your lives with love!

 

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