Love Competition: This is what I’m talking about

First of all.  Thanks.  A really big, huge thanks to those of you who read each post on the 14 days of Love post.  It felt like an intense 2 weeks, bringing up lots of thoughts on love and surmising what it might be all about and trying my best at capturing the nuances and experiences of Love.  That was Love feeding itself.

I mentioned in the last post that it felt like Love was  is everywhere.  I woke wake up each morning happier and feeling more alive, like I was truly in Love.  I’m not kidding.  I really was am!  Of course, the minute you take your eye off it, it goes away.  Just like Mitchel said at the end his interview, “if you don’t keep returning to the good things in the person you love, they go away.”  And, so it is, I will commit to re-turn.

And I will commit to share.  So, that said, I recently came across this ‘Love Competition’ (15min video below) where subjects (of different race, age and gender) were placed into an MRI machine and their task was to focus on love for the duration of the scan.  While under surveillance the technicians measured the signals in the brain that go off when we are in love. The person with the most colorful brain scan wins, basically.

Watch for yourself and start the discussion.  There are some great quotes here, but what I wanted to point out was how they felt at the end.  Simply by thinking about all the love in their life they emerged basking in it!  Now THAT’S what I’m talking about.  Oh, and I LOVE the 10 year old when asked if he’s ever felt love he responds “not like crush love, but yeah, I have”.

Try it for yourself today.  Think about all the things that you love, all the people that have loved you, who you have loved, all the songs that made you happy, all the good things you’ve done for people, all the good things they’ve done for you.  It’s endless.

14 Days of Love: Day 14 ~ Return to Love.

There is a moment in the film ‘Love Actually’ where the little boy, Sam, is not communicating with his step-father (Liam Neeson).  He retreats, he is forlorn, he doesn’t eat and he has a general malaise for life.  Finally, his step-father confronts him and asks what’s up.  With a little hesitation he looks at his father and says “I’m in Love”.  His step-father, a little taken aback, almost with a laugh, responds “I thought it would be something worse” to which Sam responds “Worse than the total agony of being in Love?”

“Oh, you’re right” his father replies.

For the last 14 days all I have been focused on is the topic of love.  I have watched hundreds of videos, read countless stories, listened to music that inspires and uplifts, waded through hundreds of images of people embracing and smiling and bursting at their seams with love.  I’ve seen tears from loss of loved ones and I am now convinced that that kind of deep mourning is love at it’s most powerful.  It’s Love when it’s standing on the edge, shouting.

I have laughed hysterically and cried with compassion and heartbreak and felt an array of experiences through stories and images and reflection and yes the ride has been, on occasion, agonizing.

My life coach, quoting Dr. John DeMartini, always reminds me that ‘that which we focus on, expands.’  So let’s say you’re in debt and all you focus on is your debt rather than abundance, then the feeling of lack expands.  Equally, if you’re trying to lose weight and all you focus on is how fat you are then….you guessed it….you’ll probably get fatter.  That’s the theory anyway.

Each day I scoured the internet, scrolled through my itunes collection, talked to my friends, emailed my friends and read countless stories around the subject of love.  As each day went on and I immersed myself in good relationships and good people and kind gestures, I found myself getting happier.  Yet nothing, physically, in my life has changed.  I haven’t acquired any ‘stuff’, I haven’t added more people to my life, I haven’t gotten a new job or a new house or a new car.  I didn’t go to an exotic place or take a new course.  In fact, I’ve felt more in love over these last 14 days than I have in a long time.  It’s almost the same kind of love you feel in a new relationship but I’ve spent a lot of time on my own.

Needless to say, I’m feeling it.  Alive, I mean.

Most impacting however, has been the reflection of love in my own life.  Taking the time to sit and look at the many ways love has showed up, both past and present, in my life has gifted me this feeling that I have a secret door to a portal into a dimension of life that no one else is privy too.  Yet, everyone has access too.  It feels as if I have a secret and I want to pull everyone aside and whisper zealously “sshhhh, listen, I know it sounds crazy but, Love is everywhere”.  But then again, maybe people have been trying to pull me aside to tell me the same thing, all along.

I didn’t know what this 14 day thing was going to be all about.  Little did I know the time and commitment it was going to take, but that’s what’s been the most rewarding actually.  The time and commitment to show up and follow through and chose, every day, to do this meant that I had to show up for myself everyday.  I wasn’t asked to do this and I wasn’t accountable to anyone for this and this is where is gets juicy.

As the days went on and each post was out there friends came forward and thanked me.  People I didn’t know were reading it approached me to compliment the project and were grateful for the content; ‘I hadn’t heard that song before’ or ‘That poem was so touching’ or ‘That interview with Steve and Sal was just what I needed to hear, it was perfectly timed’.  Even though it was I whom I made the commitment to, and it was myself I was holding to account it became very clear that in doing so, because I was sharing something, it touched others.

This theme, showing up for ourselves, and the idea of returning ~ returning to what you love, returning to what is good, returning to the people you love, returning to the reasons why you love those people and ultimately re-turning again and again back to yourself became glaringly obvious that this is where true love is held.

Every couple in a strong relationship I spoke to all had this theme of ‘being themselves’ in the relationship.  Of providing a space to let their partners shine and grow and that their individual role was to hold their partner up, and to hold them close but not hold on.  What was also clear was that these couples saw their relationship as something living, something growing and they didn’t take their eye off it.  But, ultimately, it was the development of their personal relationships with themselves that fed the relationship, not the other way around.

I can’t honestly say what Love is, because it is many things.  Perhaps Love is simply the vehicle and what makes the vehicle move is all the many variables inside.  However, when it’s moving, when it’s running there is an unwavering feeling of being alive.  I do know that Love is complete, we feel alive because there is no sense of lack.

I wonder if we tend to go wrong when we think Love always has to feel good.  It seems to me, after reading so many stories, that you can have your whole life in shambles but if you are in a state of love, you don’t fall to shambles.  I think we go wrong when we think Love is placed in the ‘other’.  When someone, or something comes into our life that triggers a feeling of rush and excitement, we think that feeling is because of them and it’s agonizing to think we might lose it.    But really, that feeling is because we find some sense of recognition of ourselves, in that person.  When a lover leaves, or you leave a lover, or someone you love passes away – there is nothing good about that feeling – but we have to return to why we fell in love in the first place.  Because they showed us something great about ourselves.

I think the real work in  love is remembering that it is always there.

Nurture and treasure the love you have in your life and keep returning to remember.  Feed the love in your life with gestures, with wild exclamations and unexpected offerings.  Be bold with the people  you love and, like my yoga teacher Mitchel says, return always, to what you love about them – even when they piss you off.  Be courageous with yourself and look forward, everyday, at your reflection and find something to love.

Living this way can be agonizing because it means you have to show up day after day and re-commit.  Re-commit to your dream, to your health, to feeling good, to doing good, to admitting being wrong rather than fighting so hard to be right.  You have to show up and take the agonizing path of forgiving.  Forgiving the person who left you, forgive the driver for cutting you off, forgive the person who didn’t love themselves enough and made choices that affected you.  Then, stand in the mirror and forgive yourself.  Forgive yourself for eating that cookie, or spending your savings on something meaningless, for divorce or break-ups, for not being where you wanted to be right now, or for not loving yourself enough to make right choices regarding someone else.   Then, go and do the right thing.

At the end of the movie, Love Actually, Sam’s father encourages him to seek his dream girl out and tell her how he feels.  After a moment Sam looks at his father and says “ok dad, let’s do it.  Let’s go get the shit kicked out of us by love.”

After 14 days of it I feel a little exhausted.  Love kinda kicked the shit of me these past 2 weeks….but mostly, it kicked a lot of shit out in general.  There were times I wanted to say “F@*k Love” but really I want to say “F*@k Valentines Day” and all the stupidity it places on loving someone else with a cheesy Hallmark card.  As Bill Maher says “Let’s just call Valentines Day what it is.  A flowers for blowjobs exchange program.”

Love doesn’t hold its meaning in someone else, that’s just the reward.  The key to it all, all along is to Love Yourself.  Naturally!

**Added Footage.  A Video Interview with Tracy & Mitchel Bleier about Love, romance, marriage and Luck – over at my other blog http://iinterviewyou.wordpress.com/2012/02/16/tracy-mitchel-bleier-on-love-marriage-and-luck/

14 Days of Love: Day 13 ~ “We make 2 cups of tea”

I met Brooke 35 years ago.  I was only a few days old and she was a day shy of being 6 months older than I.  Our parents were best friends at the time and we spent most of our childhood ebbing and flowing with their dynamic.  When they spent a lot of time together, so did we until we were able to chose who we spent out time with and we often chose each other.

Brooke is my best friend.  I couldn’t even try to be someone who I am not and I certainly can’t hide anything from her.  She is psychic, and deeply connected to me and so, even from the other side of the world she senses when I am going through something.  She’ll be woken in the night with thoughts of me, or on a road trip with her husband and have an urge to reach out to me.  She knows when something is up and I love having her in my life.  I let her pretend she thinks she can hide something from me, but inevitably I will eek it out of her.

We’re actually really different people, with very different interests and so, even when we did live near each other our time together was specific and concentrated.  Regardless of how different and opposite our desires are in the world, the one thing that binds us our commitment to our friendship and, a deep love for each other.  Now that I live on the other side of the world our main contact is through Skype but I love that our friendship has spanned the ages in communication.  I have 14 page hand written letters from her, photo albums she handmade and sent, we have marathon phone sessions and now, mostly, it’s skype.

Brooke is unabashedly honest and she’d kick your arse if she had to.  When I was in the 2nd grade, I was running through the school yard and turned a corner right into another boy and was knocked unconscious. I think Brooke was sent to detention for trying to beat him up.  She has a mouth like a fisherman too and it’s never a real conversation without a  “Ah, fuck that” thrown in somewhere.  Yet, she is into the healing arts and is extremely gentle and compassionate and generous.  She makes me laugh like nothing else.

This fierceness is deeply embedded in her love for her husband and their relationship.  Brooke is no stranger to hardship.  She has endured a lot of physical illness including bouts of scarlet fever and chronic fatigue.  She met her husband, Aaron, right in the thick of her recovery from a tumultuous year and he never left her side.

I didn’t meet Aaron until after they were married, 6 years after they met but I knew, the minute I put down the phone from our first conversation that he was the one for my best friend.  When he fell in love with Brooke, I came as part of the package and he has always loved and respected our friendship.  Aaron is an awesome guy.  I don’t know any other word to describe him.  He is kind, and generous and abundant with respect.  Everyone loves Aaron.

They have a great love for each other but they have always known that simply being in love can’t sustain a relationship, or at least he kind of relationship they want.  They have a real commitment to sustaining their marriage, and so they both work work at keeping their conversation healthy and alive and in the context of growth.  I love this about them, they are another couple whom I admire, and whom I see as a testament to what real love is.  It doesn’t fit inside a hallmark card and it’s not really easy to define.  What I love most about them as a couple is that they have always given space and understanding to each other’s personal growth.  They are invested in the goodness of their partners life.

I sent them some questions for this blog and they didn’t answer the questions I sent.  They couldn’t, so they sent me this instead.  They are both extremely private people and don’t have a presence on the internet so I am respecting that without putting pictures of them.

Brooke and Aaron live in Melbourne, Australia.  They have been married for 6 years and together for 12.

I find it immensely challenging to answer questions about the love that I have in my life and until recently didn’t know why. I often get asked things like “what made you decide to get married?” “How did you know he was the one?” “What makes this relationship different to the others?”

I search my mind and dance around with my thoughts, reliving memories like I am looking through old photo albums. I see pictures of us and feel the emotion envelop me. Then I try to bring that felt sense to words and all that falls from my mouth is an inadequate uttering of hallmark words that have been used so much they are now meaningless to many.  

I figured out that to me those questions seem to feel like scales. What is the best thing about your other? What is the best and hardest thing about being married? I know the questions were posed to open a dialogue about what love is to my husband and I, so we sat with that and discovered what that was for us.

The best part about loving and being loved is what it does for you. For us it makes us look at ourselves and what we bring to the table. Our marriage challenges us to look within. We get lost in who we want to be in ourselves, in life and our marriage. Our marriage makes us deal with things we don’t want to, but we want the world that we created to know balance and peace so we choose to push ourselves through all the issues that we brought with us, and create together.

We don’t look at each other as a his and hers kind of thing, all we are sits in a big circle and we work with what’s happening around us at the time. We use the strength we find together to help us grow as individuals and for us this works amazing well. We have a wonderful balance of gifts and challenges in our life.

I never believed that there is a secret formula to love. I believe that when you find the right partner that allows you to be comfortable to love with your whole self you can never go wrong. I find these days so many people are trying to be what they believe a good partner to be rather than being who they are.

On the question of romance……

To us romance is the thought we always have for each other and the intent behind it. We never leave the house without kissing each other goodbye and always make two cups of tea instead of just one. We respect each other’s boundaries and love one another through our fears.

Don’t be fooled by the gush of love and emotion that falls from these pages, it is bloody hard work. There are a lot of tears, a lot of talk and lot of compromise. But because of the man I married I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Everything we are is felt and experienced and therefore very hard to surmise through questions. To know what love is to us you have to know us a couple and see for yourself……maybe you will have better luck finding the words than I do.

With love from us.

14 Days of Love: Day 12 ~ Arrivals & Greetings

For as long as I can remember my dad has kicked off our phone conversations with “Who loves ya babe?” instead of the prescribed “Hi”, as his greeting.  When I was younger, and a little cockier I would rattle off a list of names under his anticipatory listening and then eventually get to the answer he was waiting for “you do dad.”

“That’s right” he would say.

Now, I don’t make him wait for that answer.

All the stuff in between is fluff and circumstance, it’s the greeting that I look forward to the most. He also loves to quote movie characters so it’s quite likely that he was simply trying to be Kojak.

I love that my dad doesn’t wait until the end of our conversation to tell me he loves me and, while it got an eye-roll from me as a teenager, I simply adore this audible ritual, as an adult.  Though extremely generous and funny (he used to let me watch Monty Python when I was a kid.  To the horror of strangers, I’d walk down the street singing “sit on my face and tell me that you love me” – it was the 70’s, he thought that was hysterical.) my dad is not a man of many words.  When I ask him what he is doing, his standard response is “talking to you” and when our conversation comes to an end and I say “I miss you dad”  he replies; “Well, come home then.”  To the point!

My mum is always excited to hear my voice, or see me on skype.  It’s like the radio station has called her up and told her she has won an all expenses paid trip somewhere.  There is always a gasp followed by a zealous recognition that it’s me and then, without fail, she throws in ‘darling’.  Sometimes it’s “hello, my darling daughter” (she loves to affirm that I am her daughter, even if it is only to me…just in case I forget), other times it’s “Hello, Lyn darling” and on a lazy day just a simple “hello darling”.  It’s safe to say the “hello, my darling daughter” is a good indication she’s having a ripper of a good day!

Unlike my dad, my mum loves a good word or two and so, after the darling, we launch into a lot more fluff and circumstance.  Then it’s, “I love you my darling” for her goodbye.

This is not a picture of my mother, BTW

Because I am so used to these greetings I have taken it all for granted, of course.  Even a little contempt “Mum, I’m 35, could we stop with darling daughter?  I feel like I’m in potty training all over again.”

That is until I started this little 14 days of love project and I realized how these greetings are the way my parents show up to me.  If these greetings weren’t  there, our fluff and circumstance would be different.  In fact, everything would be different.  Since I have been thinking incessantly over the last 11 days about the little ways we give love, or we embrace love – not just in romance but in all areas of our life, I realize the way we arrive is often more loaded than the way we say goodbye.  It reveals.

If, as shakespeare states “All the world’s a stage” then your arrival is your act 1, your unveiling. Greetings set the scene since we can’t hide a hello, the way we can a goodbye.  Whether this is in a phone conversation, an online video chat, an email, a letter or a physical encounter.

To get even more metaphorical about it, we open our heart in a hello – face forward, heart revealed.  Even if we’re ultimately having to say goodbye, it looms underneath an arrival.

The story of life is quicker than the blink of an eye, the story of love is hello, goodbye.  ~ Jimmy Hendrix

It’s had me thinking about all the ways in which people in my life arrive, and, of course, the way I arrive.  I had a long distance boyfriend once who always, upon hearing my voice, answered with a larger than life “How ya doin babe?” like he was smiling from ear to ear.  Laughter is always in his voice and even now, as we are great friends, his greeting still makes me smile because he smiles in it.

Another past boyfriend always started our conversations, or his voice mail with “Hey beautiful” or “hey sweetie” and I would start mine off with “hey handsome”.  Recently I went through my inbox and text messages to do some housekeeping and I noticed that all of the message exchanges with dear friends started with a “Hey Love” or “Hey Gorgeous” – from either end.

Affirming someone’s arrival with a genuine expression of want means that you don’t wait until the end, to show them love.  How do you arrive?  And, how do the one’s you love arrive for you?

 Jim Morrison had it right

14 Days of Love: Day 11 ~ Poetry

This is the last poetry post for this project (not the last entirely) I couldn’t decide which to choose.  How do you choose a poem that best describes love?  Which, of the many, could possibly be the one?  😉  So, there is more than one.

SHE RESPONDED
~ Hafiz

The birds’ favorite songs
You do not hear,

For their most flamboyant music takes place
When their wings are stretched
Above the trees

And they are smoking the opium
Of pure freedom.

It is healthy for the prisoner
To have faith

That one day he will again move about
Wherever he wants,
Feel the wondrous grit of life –
Less structured,

Find all wounds, debts stamped canceled,
Paid.

I once asked a bird,
“How is it that you fly in this gravity
Of darkness?”

She responded,

“Love lifts
Me.”

OF LOVE
~ Mary Oliver

I have been in love more times than one,
thank the Lord.
Sometimes it was lasting, whether
active or not.
Sometimes it was all but ephemeral,
maybe only an afternoon,
but not less real for that.

They stay in my mind,
these beautiful people,
or anyway beautiful people to me, of which
there are so many.
You, and you, and you,
whom I had the fortune to meet,
or maybe missed.

Love, love, love, it was
the core of my life, from which,
of course, comes the word for
heart.
And, oh, have I mentioned that
some of them were men and some were
women and some – now carry my revelation with you –
were trees.

Or places.  Or music flying above
the names of their makers.  Or clouds, or
the sun, which was the first, and the best,
the most loyal for certain, who looked
most faithfully into my eyes, every morning.

So I imagine
such love of the world – its fervency, it’s shining
it’s innocence and hunger to give of itself –
I imagine this is how it began.”

TO HAVE WITHOUT HOLDING
~ Marge Piercy

Learning to love differently is hard,
love with the hands wide open, love
with the doors banging on their hinges,
the cupboard unlocked, the wind
roaring and whimpering in the rooms
rustling in the sheets and snapping the blinds
that thwack like rubber bands
in an open palm.

It hurts to love wide open
stretching the muscles that feel
as if they’re made of wet plaster,
then of blunt knives, then
of sharp knives.

It hurts to thwart the reflexes
of grab, of clutch; to love and let
go again and again.  It pesters to remember
the lover who is not in the bed,
to hold back what is owed to the work
that gutters like a candle in a cave
without air, to love consciously,
conscientiously, concretely, constructively.

I can’t do it, you say it’s killing
me, but you thrive, you glow
on the street like a neon raspberry
You float and sail, a helium balloon
bright bachelor’s button blue and bobbing
on the cold  and hot winds of our breath,
as we make and unmake in passionate
diastole and systole the rhythm
of our unbound bonding, to have
and not to hold, to love
with minimized malice,
hunger and anger, moment by moment
balanced.

14 Days of Love: Day 10 ~ Music

It’s Friday, 4 days to go.  If you’re anyone of my 4 dinner guests you’re not going to be able to focus on too many words.  So, I’m going for my last playlist for this series.  The hardest thing with this type of post is not what to include, it’s what not to include.  So, I went with goosebumbs and grinding as my decision maker.  If it gave me goose-bumps or made me grind in my seat – it made it.  It’s all below.

This song is Goose-bumper for sure!  I almost wanted to give it it’s own post.  I was only 8 when this song was released but, by the time I was ripe for new love experiences it had become a classic in Australia.  One of those songs that takes you on an epic journey.  It’s sexy and raw.  I love this version – I love the crowd singing along…I love the guys singing their guts out to this.  Says so much.

Another epic song for me.  It came out when I was in London, shuffling my way through my early 20’s. A time when you need an anthem.  This was mine.  Goose-bumps

Another anthem, but this time about love for family.  This was originally written when his partner had their child.  I chose this video because it is filmed in my home town of Melbourne, Australia.  In the city center.   A place close to my heart.  Goose-bumps.

Goose-bumps and a grinder for me (in the sexiest way)

Nostalgic Goose-bumps.  This reminds me of a long bus trip I took at 18 through the outback.  I had officially cut the apron strings, I was on my way…..to somewhere.

Goose-bumps.  Super simple song.  No other lyrics but I love you.  Says it all.

Jes Hudak is a new, young artist on the scene.  I saw her in New York city many years ago.  She often sings sweet pop melodies…but I love this new project she has going on.  Check her out.  www.jeshudak.com

Grinder, grinder, grinder.  I used to have daydreams of the guy I dated (in the future) singing this to me at Karaoke!

Obvious.

Best song for a guy to strip to.  Just saying.

Love & Light.  Goose-bumps and a grinder.

I never want to move when I hear this song.  I close my eyes and just big, fat tears want to come out.  This is songwriting at it’s most poetic – seek out the english translation.

Do I have to say anything about this?

I love that this could be about anyone in your life.

14 Days of Love: Day 8: Interview: Sal & Steve.

I first met my dear friend Sal, another Aussie, at the dinner she and her new husband had organized on their return to Connecticut from Las Vegas, where they had just married, 10 years ago.  I was dating er….’friends’…with an Australian tennis pro at the time and this was his group.  The 15+ group were mostly from other countries and so there was an instant connection between us all.  Though, I barely got to speaking with Sal besides a ‘nice to meet you, Congratulations, what part of Australia are you from?’ type encounter.

Over the course of a year or two my Australian guy friend turned into a fully fledged boyfriend and I would run into Sal a lot more often.  It was generally at tennis gatherings and in the company of the other ‘tennis wives/girlfriends’.  Truth be told, I wasn’t so keen on being considered a ‘tennis girlfriend’ and as a result I resisted being part of that sect of women, so I didn’t engage too much outside of the events.  Basically, I pigeon holed Sal into that group and kept our conversations light….read: I totally judged her.  Don’t get me wrong, they were all nice women and very kind and genuine but also sensible and seemingly put together.  I, on the other hand, showed up in weird, thrown together outfits and the nights usually ended with me drunk and having to be carried home by my boyfriend.  Needless to say, my life felt scrappy, comparatively.

Skip to two years after that post wedding dinner and I was at one of the many parties that were thrown.  I found myself, with glass in hand, in the ‘ladies’ section ( opposite to the ‘man’s corner, which was closer to the alcohol)  standing next to Sal.  The movie Rabbit Proof Fence had just been released and we had both seen it.  We spent hours talking about the topic of the stolen generation and how impressed we were with the movie and so, in a sense, we bonded over our mutual disgust of the injustices against the Aboriginal community in Australia (we still bond over the mutual disgust of social injustices everywhere).  Sal is a child of social activists and when other parents were taking their kids to the beach, hers were taking her to protests…I was jealous.  I had always wanted that kind of intelligent, alternative upbringing.  She had grit, and I felt like I had ‘met the one!’…..(a best friend, I mean)

To seal the deal of our mutual affections, we went out for drinks a few weeks later.  We got ‘legless’ as they would say in Australia……we closed down the bar drinking shots of tequila and then held each other up to walk home, only to finish the wine she had in her apartment.  Turns out she loved to get pretty scrappy too!  Then, a week later, she found out she was 6 weeks pregnant!

I have been close to Sal ever since, so close that I have been at the birth of her and Steve’s 3 children  (well, only the 1st actually – the other two didn’t wait for me to arrive.)  She is a champion woman.   Birthing her children naturally, and making alternative choices in their health and education.   She has packed up a her child last-minute and driven to my place (3 hours away) after I called and told her my boyfriend and I broke up.  She has sat up with me till all hours of the night drinking copious amounts of wine knowing that a child will call her name within hours.  She is the type of woman you can sit at the kitchen counter with, have a cup of tea, talk about penises and vagina’s and the next thing you know a freshly baked scone will show up in front of you.  Clearly, I love this girl!

Steve is a rock.  He is committed to his family and his craft and simply adores his wife.  A few times I have received a phone call from him asking if I can call Sal because she was having a bad day(gestures!).  One time, while he was away on business, and Sal was home with the 3 children, she had come down with a terrible flu.  I was heading up to Massachusetts (where they live) the following day but he called me asking me to go up a day earlier if possible and would take care of anything I needed (that wasn’t necessary of course.)  Steve cares.  He is a good person and solid in his values and beliefs, and commitment to all the goodness in his life.

It’s absolutely no surprise to me that these two are in a solid and real marriage.  There is that line in the last poem I submitted  where she says “you have to mix yourself with the strange beauty of someone else wake each morning for 72,000 mornings in a row so breathed and bound and tangled that you can hardly sort out your arms and legs”

I think of those two in that line and how perfectly they have mastered that art – (although, they often more than their own arms and legs tangled in bed with them).  Their life isn’t flashy but it’s comfortable.  Their family dynamic is as a strong unit and it is very clear that this isn’t something that just ‘happened.’  I’ve seen them fight, I’ve seen them get frustrated with each other but I’ve also seen how they pull together and that nothing is more important that the strength of the family.  A testament to great Love.  Another testament to their love and commitment is the relationship and connection their 3 children have with each other. It is warm and endearing and caring….and they fight too, but they understand what it means to be together and look after each other.  It’s very heart-warming.

These two are sexy, in the most real way.  I wanted to get a few questions answered about how they endure life in a marriage and how they feel about love.  Sal prefaced her responses with a note “Hey honey, I hope my reply wasn’t too brief and not as flowery as could have been !! I am brain-dead after 4 sleepless nights and sick kids…. Steve is set blackberry in hand to reply, can you send his questions”

Sal is Australian and stay at home mum who home schools her children.  She also holds a masters in teaching and is studying for her 2nd masters degree in a long distance learning program.  Steve is South African and is a tennis pro with Bosse Sports, working with elite junior tennis players.  He also played on the professional tennis circuit for a number of years.  They both live with their 3 children Luca, Ty & Laila in Massachusetts.

Sal:

Where, when & How did you and Steve meet?

Steve and I first met on a kibbutz (Horshim) in Israel

What was your first thought when meeting him?

I turned to my girlfriend and told her that I just met the man I am going to marry

Do you remember the first thing he said to you?

Hi howzit?

How long after you met did you marry? 

Just over 2 years. We moved in together within a few days of meeting and married 3 years later.

Did you always want to be married?  Were you hoping to meet your life partner at that time, or was it a case of meeting Steve and knowing that you had met your life partner?

I was def. not looking for my ‘life partner’ at the time, until I met him.

What was your first year like?

We travelled a lot and lived in 4 different countries in the first year!

What has been the most challenging thing in your marriage (without having to get too personal of course)?

Having children

What has been the most rewarding?

Having children

What is your and Steve’s dynamic?  Meaning, how do you factor in each other’s different interests and opinions?  How do you distribute the practicalities of life?  

We have always been good partners  and really good at reading each other. We share most daily stuff almost evenly.

Do you find it difficult to keep the romance?  How important do you think romance is for a stable relationship?  How do you bring it in?

Steve is much more the creative romantic than I. At this stage it is difficult to be as romantic as we would like with life stuff.

Often times you hear stories of couples being so in love with each other but then the relationship doesn’t work out.  It’s as though the attraction isn’t the problem but somehow they just can’t seem to get around the day to dayness of life.  What attitudes do think this speaks too?  Where do you think people could shift their belief?

Meet the right person and the dayness of life melts into the partnership.

You didn’t actually plan for kids, and now you have 3.  Besides the obvious (lifestyle changes etc) how has having kids changed you personally?

In our case it has taken away a lot of our personal freedoms as individuals and as a couple. We don’t have a community or family around so it is pretty much us as a family unit.

Do you think it is has changed Steve personally?

It has bought out a patient and kind side of him that only fatherhood could have. He is an amazing dad.

Steve is also a very hands on dad – yet he tends to let you take the lead when it comes to family traditions and the day to dayness of raising a family – and yet he still manages to maintain the father of the house standing. This is very impressive as it seems like there is such a balance, with the both of you taking responsibilities.  Do you ever get resentful that he gets to take off each day and head out to work?  Does he ever get resentful that you get to stay home with the kids?

Absolutely, I think we would trade places in a heartbeat depending on the day. I don’t doubt that he could handle the stay home dad.

What do you think one of the most important qualities/personality traits is in a strong relationship?

Trust first and foremost, without trust nothing else can come.

What are some of the most romantic things Steve has done for you?

He does them so frequently, brings home a bottle of wine if I have had a bad day, the other night he ran me a hot bath with oils and candles. He is really great at sending naughty and funny texts to brightens day. Mostly it is the little things that make the biggest difference

Lastly, any advice for young couples out there? 

You shouldn’t have to try so hard, you need to work hard at a relationship but I it starts to feel like hard work, it is not worth it.

Sal & I in her bed 2 hours after baby Laila was born at home

steve holding sal, dancing. 2 months ago

Luca holding his newborn baby brother, Ty

Luca & Ty 4 years on

Luca & Ty with their newborn baby sister, Laila

The 3 kids 2 years on

The entire family last month

STEVE:

Where, when & How did you and Sal meet?

Israel, Kibbutz Horshim market. March 17 1999, through mutual friends.

What was your first thought when meeting her?
I thought she was amazing, I had never met a beautiful tall blonde australian before. I did think her friend was cute as well 🙂

Do you remember the first thing she said to you?
I think it was just “Hi” but it was very sexy in her accent.

How long after you met did you marry?
3 and a bit years later.

Were you hoping to meet your life partner at that time, or was it a case of meeting Sal and knowing that you had met your life partner?

I had been in a few relationships before Sal but it was a different feeling when I was with Sal. There was and is a complete feeling of ease, happiness and excitement.
What was your first year like?

Fun, exciting, filled with travel, meeting new people and seeing new places.
What has been the most challenging thing in your marriage (without having to get too personal of course)?

Finding a common ground/country on where to live with both of us being able to pursue our dreams and what is best for our family.
What has been the most rewarding?

Growing as people and as a couple. We have become so much closer as a couple with going through good times and tough times. I find it very sexy that I am so close and so attracted to Sal.

What is your and Sal’s dynamic?  Meaning, how do you factor in each other’s different interests and opinions?  How do you distribute the practicalities of life?
Life is so difficult as it is, we roll with the punches really well and support each other. Each day is different and we support each other dependent on what each of us needs. We don’t have a set list of things to do.
Do you find it difficult to keep the romance?  How important do you think romance is for a stable relationship?  How do you bring it in?

It is a challenge but that’s what makes it fun. It is super important as it shows your partner that you are there and you are thinking of them. Simple things like sending texts or emails to say you are thinking of them. Flowers, filling her car with gas. Sneaking off for a pub lunch. Kissing is huge, let your children see that you love each other.

After a busy day running around on a tennis court and lots of kids, how do you keep the romance?

Throughout the day, sending messages and letting her know I am always thinking about her. Always kissing her hello every time I come home.
Often times you hear stories of couples being so in love with each other but then the relationship doesn’t work out.  It’s as though the attraction isn’t the problem but somehow they just can’t seem to get around the day to dayness of life.  What attitudes do think this speaks too?  Where do you think people could shift their belief?

Day to-day stuff makes things a challenge, I think you have to always put your wife and family first. The dishes can wait, the carpet can be vacuumed a little later. Talk to each other!! Communication is key, it is not always easy to say things but it is always better than keeping it in.
You didn’t actually plan for kids, and now you have 3.  Besides the obvious (lifestyle changes etc) how has having kids changed you personally?

I have learned that the things I thought were so important are not, I learn this lesson everyday. Family is everything! It has made me more comfortable in my work as I have a more relaxed attitude about work, jobs come and go, family is forever.

Do you think it is has changed Sal personally?
Yes, she used to be a A (Australian)ILF now she is a MILF!! I find it very sexy that Sal has two hats, one that nurtures and adores our kids and one that is a sexy vibrant women.
Sal is a very capable and strong woman, and mother.  How do you define your role as a husband and now as a father?  How important do you think roles and responsibilities are in a relationship?  Do you tend to lean toward the more ‘traditional’ i.e. you take the trash out, Sal cooks the dinner etc.?  Or are tasks evenly distributed?

We never spoke about our roles as parents, we have just molded into our roles as parents, we are constantly communicating and working as a team. We just do what needs to be done on a daily basis. I think we are anything but traditional, although I am not sure what we are. We are what we are!
What do you think one of the most important qualities/personality traits is in a strong relationship?

Communication, Trust, belief in yourself and your bond with your partner, adaptability.
What are some of the most romantic things Sal has done for you? 

Surprise 30th bday party.
Weekend away
Miami!

What do you think it means to be in love?

Happiness, fun, growth.
Lastly, any advice for young couples out there?  

Be yourself but be prepared for you and your partner to grow as individuals. If you are open to new experiences you will grow as a couple as well. There is nothing better than doing things with a person you are completely comfortable with, this makes for a lot of fun!!!

**addendum to this following video.  This was a shot at about 3am, after many tequila’s celebrating our friends 40th birthday.  I thought it a good idea to get out the camera and ask questions about family life with Steve.  Forgive the slurry…my slurry…conversation…and the political incorrectness.  But I think it’s a great insight into who Steve is and how he feels being a dad.

14 Days of Love: Day 7: Music

This is the 2nd playlist for this little project. This time, however, all the music has been chosen by readers, and friends. Another wedge in the pie chart of love is sharing.  It’s the smartest thing we can do with each other.  Share what you have, share what you love, share your talent and share your interests.

Not too much verbiage before the music.  Here is the link to the first playlist, perhaps you’ll find love in these songs.

Submitted by Sal & Johnny (not related to each other)

Indigo Girls version for you Johnny

From Elisa

From Ann-Mary Kay

From Katee because it makes her feel loved by entire extended family

From Aubrey

From Caroline

From Johnny

From Sal

From Shay

From Katee

From Elisa

From Peter

From Cat

From Aubrey

For Ann-Mary Kay

Not sure who submitted this

Embedding all the videos was quite the mammoth task so below is a list of other songs that didn’t quite make the video list.

Otis Redding ~ These Arms of Mine
Buddy Holly ~ Words of Love (and Patti Smith’s cover of it)
Rainbow Connection
Jason Mraz ~ Lucky
Nat King Cole ~ Unforgettable
Rob Zombie ~ Pussy Liquor
The Beatles ~ You’ve got to hide your love away
Meatloaf ~ Paradise by the dashboard light
Roger Miller ~ King of the road
Johnny Cash ~ Ring of fire
Etta James ~ At last
Louis Armstrong ~ What a wonderful world
Bob Dylan ~ Girl from North Country
Cyndi Lauper ~ Time after Time
Jack Johnson ~ Upside Down
Michael Franti ~ Hey Hey Hey
John Legend & The Roots ~ Shine
Anything by the Carpenters
Barry White ~ My everything.

Love

x

14 Days of Love: Day 6 ~ Poem: The Karma Sutra of Kindness, position #3

Even when poetry has a meaning, as it usually has, it may be inadvisable to draw it out… Perfect understanding will sometimes almost extinguish pleasure.  A. E. Housman

Often, I’ve been rendered breathless by a good poem.  As I work my down the elongated, odd arrangement of words I notice nothing else in the world, and I become completely immersed.  Over and over again I can read a good poem and it will never fail to have the same effect it did when I first came across it.  It is often the experience I have when engulfed in the feeling of love.

I don’t always understand, immediately, the meaning of the poem but that’s when I know it is for me.  Like A.E Housman said, perfect understanding will sometimes almost extinguish pleasure.  This is the same way I feel about relationships.

Perfect love doesn’t require meaning and quite often though, when you’re in that state, it’s not until you step out of it that you try to look for meaning.  Or, perhaps rather, it’s when you try to look for the meaning in love is when you’re no longer enjoying it.

The lovely, Sarah McGrath submitted this poem for the 14 Days of Love series.  I think it perfectly describes what it means to be in a romantic relationship that is healthy, gritty, normal and full of love.

The Karma Sutra of Kindness: Position #3
Mary Mackey

It’s easy to love
through a cold spring
when the poles
of the willows
turn green
pollen falls like
a yellow curtain
and the scent of
Paper Whites
clots
the air.


but to love for a lifetime
takes talent

you have to mix yourself
with the strange
beauty of someone
else
wake each morning
for 72,000
mornings in
a row so
breathed and
bound and
tangled
that you can hardly
sort out
your arms
and
legs


you have to be willing to move through
life
together
the way the long
grasses move
in a field
when you careen
blindly toward
the other side


there’s never going to be anything
straight or predictable
about your path
except the
flattening
and the springing
back


you just go on walking for years

hand in hand
waist deep in the weeds
bent slightly forward
like two question
marks
and all the while it

burns
my dear
it burns beautifully above
you
and goes on
burning
like a relentless
sun