Posts Tagged ‘marriage’

What’s Love Got To Do With It?

Well, dear friends. It’s been more than a month since my last post. I so want to post more often – but my wee little break on Fridays! Glorious Fridays! – has been filled this summer with the project I mentioned in my July 10 post on The Great Birthday Massacre.

I’ve been cooking up a new coaching program for single women over 30 who would like to be married.

To see it, check out my new Break Through Into Love page.

I’m a big fan of strong, healthy relationships and marriages. I think they’re foundational to EVERYTHING else! Call me old fashioned – but I think that many of our nation’s current woes are directly or indirectly connected to a breakdown in relationships – starting with family.

I’m also a big fan of strong, healthy singleness. Strong, healthy singles are not half people waiting for their “better half”. They are whole and complete in themselves – capable of changing the world in ways married folks only dream about. Their singleness can be their greatest asset and gift. There are more opportunities than ever before for single people to do great things and have powerful fulfilling lives.

But if it’s time to transition from successful single to successful married, especially in today’s confusing and fragmented culture, the challenge can be overwhelming. Preparing yourself, finding your life partner, and setting your relationship up for success is not for the faint of heart. It takes courage, honesty, humility, and a really good sense of humor, not to mention patience and perseverance. If you’re over 30, you’ve probably already experienced some set backs in this arena which can be challenging to overcome. I know, I didn’t get married until I was 40.

That’s why I’ve been reading up, interviewing singles, doing some coaching, and tapping into my own experience and training to develop this program.

I’m very excited to launch my pilot Break Through Into Love coaching group on October 19.

This first group will be local – right here in Sonoma County – in my own living room.

After that – well – we’ll just see where it goes. I’d like to make this available to women outside this area as well.

If you’re single, and over 30, and a woman, and you think you’re ready to make the transition…. and you live in the vicinity of Santa Rosa, California …. (or if you know someone who fits these criteria) then check out my offering. It could change your life.

Contact me for more information and please tell your friends.


Planning a Decade?

In Tahoe with Steve celebrating ten years of marriage – and enjoying the beauty of the mountains.

Reading together A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini. Can’t stop thinking about Afghanistan. Keeps me up.

Planning out our next ten years together.

How do you plan the next ten years? I can’t even plan dinner.

This first ten went by so incredibly fast, my head is spinning just thinking about it. There is no way we could have planned all that has happened. What we did plan, at least in a general sense was swept aside by circumstance and choices in the moment – where priorities realign themselves.

So… we’re “planning” to do more backpacking and exploring in the high country.

We’re “planning” to make some career changes.

But who cares what we plan? Life shows up unexpectedly and sweeps away our plans. What is coming our way that we are NOT planning?

When we got married one decade ago, we had no idea what was coming our way. That’s why those marriage vows are so all inclusive! We’ve had our share of for better and for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, and we still love and cherish each other, and, hopefully that until death do us part part is still a long way off. I had no idea that in the first decade of my marriage I would become a grandmother to four, going on five, grandchildren!

Not to say that some of our plans didn’t work out. They did. Like our plan on being hospitable, balancing our personalities, establishing our marriage, strengthening our family relationships… these things have been a constant guiding light that we are still following.

So… what do we plan on now? Ever heard the old evangelical pick up line? “Hi. Did you know that God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life?” Actually, I think it should be more like “Hi. Did you know that God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your plan?” I imagine He must be amused as we sketch out what we want the next ten years to look like. The only thing I’m pretty sure of now, is that whatever we sketch, it will NOT be that.

We do our best, day to day to be prepared for emergencies and for the unexpected, but we can’t plan for them. We can set good intentions about hobbies and activities we want to participate in. We can set financial and career goals. All these are good. But they’re just like throwing darts blindfolded in a fog.

So what can we plan for? We can plan for who we will be. i.e. I will be grateful – and content. I will live in the present – let go of old regrets – let go of those evil shoulds –  “I should be doing this or that by now” –  and the pressure to measure up to my “potential”.

I plan to just BE – fully, abundantly, gratefully, presently, lovingly, – ME. No one else, nowhere else. Just BE HERE NOW. Period. So much energy is wasted on trying to DO THERE THEN or HAVE WHERE WHEN!  (I’m playing with these words, but hopefully, you get my drift.) Whatever! I want to be with whomever I am with, right here, right now. And nowhere else, with no one else. When I am with YOU, I am with YOU. Fully present. Fully aware. Fully alive. Whatever “potential” lies in me either shows up here and now with you or it doesn’t exist. Period.

So my plan for the next ten years of my marriage to Steve? BE HERE NOW. Give myself fully, abundantly, without reservation to our marriage – Show up, speak up, get up. Engage our life together with curiosity, wonder, and full participation. I have NO CLUE what the next ten years will hold. It’s like this wonderful book we are reading. I don’t know what’s in the next chapter, but I can’t wait to turn the page and find out.

So… to do that… I need energy. I need to take care of my fifty-year-old body. Exercise, diet, maybe take some supplements to increase my stamina. I find that my energy increases when I’m engaged fully in life… but a few vitamins can’t hurt. Time to shed the resentments and regrets along with the old papers and books; eliminate the distractions and engage the uncomfortable present. Time to clean house. Get rid of old clutter both physical and emotional that ties me down. Find the treasures hidden under the dull, beige, dusty clutter. Dig for the gold. Time to decorate – make it MY home – I’ve been here ten years after all. It’s time to paint!

Who do you plan to be over the next ten years?

Out of Excuses

Since my last post four weeks ago was about the Drive Thru Daiquiris in New Orleans, I think a few people wondered if Steve and I just stayed there driving and drinking…. Or if we drove off the road and that was it. Nope. After saying thanks and good-bye to cutie-pie Eric, we returned the rental car and got on the plane to fly home.

Now I’ve been home for the same amount of time as my entire turning-fifty-with-my-girlfriends journey. That went by fast! As soon as I got back, I wanted to wrap up my journey with a cool posting about all I had learned…. But that didn’t happen.

First week back from my journey I indulged in the desire to sleep and to reconnect with my home.

Second week I went to be with my parents after my dad’s surgery.

Third week I had my granddaughter and my niece and nephew for the  weekend. So here we are. First sane, undisturbed Friday and I’m out of excuses.

Being with my girlfriends helped me accept the fact that I work BEST under pressure. I don’t like it. I’ve beaten myself up about it for years. But it’s true. When I was on my trip I would write almost every day. Kim got me started. She didn’t have internet access at her house, so we had to get up and get going to Guglhupf so I could write. Kim would sit there patiently all morning reading her book while I wrote and uploaded photos. She had lots of cool things planned for when I was done, but we couldn’t do any of them until I posted my daily update on my blog. Harrah and Sandy would make little comments like “Are you STILL writing that thing? Aren’t you done yet? I can’t believe how much time that thing takes! We’re leaving in five minutes, you can finish it later.” And other encouraging words. Just enough pressure to keep me focused.

Now I’m back at home, back into my routines, and life is, well… life. Monday through Thursday I am deeply focused on my somewhat stressful job which has a tendency to purge all the creative energy out of my brain cells. By the time Friday, Glorious Friday rolls around, I go through a recovery phase. Sleep in a little, get up and spend an hour reading, then start to think about all the things I want to do to build my coaching practice, do calls when they are scheduled, and… oh yeah… update my blog. The day stretches before me like a luxurious sandy beach…. And before I know it, Friday is over and the update is not written.

I promised Kim I would go this morning and sit in a wi-fi coffee shop. So here I am in Café Azul in downtown Santa Rosa, with a two-hour parking pass, a rented table, and a fantasy that I’m on vacation in Santa Rosa and Kim is sitting across the table patiently reading her book. I miss you, Kimmie!

For the rest of this year, I’ll be unpacking the gifts I gathered on this journey. Right up there wrinkled on the top of the suitcase are two related concepts.
1. how vitally important true friends are and
2. what a difference community can make in our quality of life.

Francis Bacon, in his essay “Of Friendship”, wrote something that seemed harsh. “I have given the rule, where a man cannot fitly play his own part; if he have not a friend, he may quit the stage.” This was after describing all the amazing benefits a true friend brings to one’s life. I wouldn’t tell you to “quit the stage”. But I would say, if you don’t have a friend, go out and get one. My mom used to tell me whenever I was lonely, “If you want to have a friend, you must first BE a friend.” A little truth that has come in handy many times.

So my first new years’ resolution for being fifty is to BE a friend – a true friend…. To stay in touch with my far-away girlfriends…. And to put more effort into cultivating my close-to-home friendships; which brings me to the second gift in my suitcase…

What a difference community can make in our quality of life.

I saw how Kim has invested herself in building community where she lives. She had some close friends there who moved away…. So she joined a “meet-up” group and is rapidly developing a cool little gang of gals that share the common characteristic of getting booted out of the original group for being too independent. Perfect for my one-of-a-kind girlfriend who loves and accepts everyone just as they are while never wavering from being absolutely true to herself.

Harrah is a fish who has found her pond. She’s an artist who is surrounded by other artists. They inspire and support each other, and send each other business. It’s all good.

Sandy thrives in church and has dedicated herself to serving in her new community. She hasn’t been in her new home as long as Harrah and Kim have been in theirs, but she is on the path to building her community.

I confess, I lost my pond. So I’m committed this year to finding it again. Finding the water I can swim in and thrive. I’ve changed and my old pond has changed too. It’s time for a new chapter. My girlfriends have taught me it can be done – at fifty or at any age. And I’m committed to deepening and strengthening my marriage in the process. I’m not running off to find myself and leave my poor husband behind. Interestingly, I read Eat, Pray, Love while on my journey. Loved it, except for the leaving the husband part… but that’s her story, not mine. We’re in this together… whatever that looks like. In whatever ways I grow in this new decade, I’m committed to using it to ENHANCE and serve our marriage and make both our lives better, and you can hold me to that.

Highlights with Harrah

Alasdair Fraser
On Friday, after hob-nobbing our way through a number of gallery openings with Harrah, we went to hear Alasdair Fraser and Natalie Haas in concert. I first heard Alasdair Fraser in Sebastopol probably twelve or thirteen years ago when Harrah took me to the Celtic Festival. We both loved Irish and Scottish music, we were taking the Scottish Country Dance class, and I was exploring my own Celtic roots. When I heard Alasdair Fraser playing his fiddle I could imagine my ancestors dancing around the hall.

Since Harrah moved away and I got married I’ve let most of my Celtic interests slip into the background as I’ve focused on more pressing matters. Sitting in the theater on Friday listening to this beautiful music with Harrah at my side brought it all back. My feet started moving, my eyes closed, and I was there. At one point I had tears in my eyes. Not sure why, but something deep inside was touched with longing and love for this part of me.

Last night we went to dinner at the summer home of one of Harrah’s friends. Her name is Dawn. She was widowed eleven years ago. She and her husband had bought this property together and restored and built the little summer cottage. It’s out on the point of one of the hundreds of peninsulas along the coast of Maine, in the little village of Friendship. I don’t know if there’s a Country Cottage Living Magazine, but if there is, this place would be on the cover. Here are a few pics I took – ‘cause I couldn’t help it.

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We stayed there until almost midnight, out on the screened porch, watching the sun set behind the island across the bay. There was the boom of nearby firework displays put on by benevolent neighbors. We talked about our own evolving spirituality, aging, community service, the old New England Culture vs. the New, the struggles of the poor in Maine, real estate, politics, marriages with large age differences. It was comfortable and beautiful. I could have stayed there all night.



Harrah and My New Friend Barbara


On Friday morning Harrah got a phone call from her friend Barbara inviting her to bring her friend (that’s me) to her home for breakfast. In the summer, Barbara rents a garage apartment overlooking Rockport Harbor. We had a delightful visit out on her deck, with scones and coffee and fruit. We were there again on July 3 to watch the fireworks from her deck. This morning Barbara picked me up and took me to breakfast at the Maine Media Workshop. When Barbara turned fifty she gave herself the gift of attending a photography workshop here. Now she’s in her seventies and is on the Board of Directors of this elite school for photography and film making. She gave me a tour and introduced me to some of the staff. She has had her work shown in the Portland Museum of Art and is publishing a book of some of her photography.

We chatted a bit about marriage, divorce, and coming into your own. She and her husband split up after raising their children. She wanted to pursue her art, continue her education, and grow as a person, and he wanted her to stay the same as she had always been. He mocked her attempts to educate herself, but she went anyway. She said that all she needed was some encouragement and support from him, even if he didn’t participate. But she felt he resisted all her attempts to grow. Now she’s alone, and pursuing the life she always wanted to pursue. But she’s sad that he’s not there to share it.



I’m grateful for my husband. From the beginning of our relationship he has supported and encouraged me to expand my interests, increase my education, and do this trip – without him. It’s common at fifty, at least for us women and maybe for men too, to re-evaluate the direction of our lives, the choices we have made, and what we want to be when we grow up. I know I’m in that process. I hope I can do it with grace and compassion for myself and others. And I’m fortunate to have a husband who supports and loves my crazy adventures. I wish for you the same joy.

The Yellow House



Harrah bought this house nine years ago. It was originally built in the 1800s, and has undergone one remodel before her. Now she is completing an expansion, pushing the kitchen out into a “great room”, including dining and living areas. It’s bright, sunny, and reflective of Harrah’s eye for design and color. When I arrived on Thursday evening, cardboard still covered the new birch floor, dust and tools were everywhere. John the builder was working hard. He’s been racing to get it all done before I came. Almost made it.




On Friday, while we were out gallivanting, John finished up some of the clean up, picked up the cardboard, and loaded up his tools. When we got home, I helped Harrah move furniture into the room. It has been a huge overwhelming project for her.

Unfortunately, I didn’t take pictures of the original mess, or the cleaned up empty room. I did finally take some after we moved the furniture in. I also took some of the boxes of kitchen stuff that has been filling her hallway waiting. It’s been fun to be part of this bright new transition for her.


Dinner and a Movie


Marriage is a Three-Legged Race

Yesterday was the nine-year anniversary of my marriage to Steve Kraut. It amazes me how quickly time goes by. I still feel like we’re newlyweds trying to figure out what our marriage will look like, and what we want to do when we grow up. We still haven’t finished decorating the house, some of my stuff is still stored in the garage, and we’re just getting started. Yet I will turn 50 next year, and Steve will turn 65. He’ll be eligible for Medicare and I can start wearing all those purple and red things from the red-hat club. Marriage is an interesting thing. It brings a dramatic change to your daily life, and then again, nothing has really changed. I’m still the same person with the same neuroses; I’m just sharing them with someone else’s neuroses. Sometimes my marriage feels like a three-legged race. We used to do them at camp when I was a kid. You know, where you and a partner each put a leg into a burlap bag and then try to cross the finish line before anyone else. If you both try to run separately, you end up tumbling onto the grass either laughing or yelling at each other. It doesn’t work until you figure out a rhythm for running together. Inside leg then outside leg. Inside leg, then outside leg. Hmmm… In my marriage, it means bringing my own independence into rhythm with our shared life together. Both are needed, but they need to work together for the common goal. One cannot run faster than the other or we both fall down. But if we submit our own pace to the other’s, and find a rhythm together, holding up the sack with one hand, and holding our partner with the other, we start to find a stride. After that awkward struggle, we find ourselves gliding across the grass. Not that we don’t stumble, trip, and fall often, but then we get up, get set, and go again.