This is Marriage 3

My husband and I went on a little road trip to Joshua Tree the past couple days. It was lovely, getting out of dodge, and being out with nature. Yes, it was over 100* so I had to mostly be indoors with AC or outside in a pool, but still, it was most relaxing.

On the way up (about a two hour drive from where we live,) I saw my husband was in a bit of pain with some foot trouble and also, in a bit of an agitated mood because of work stuff and a limited food diet.

The old Christina would have not liked it. She would have drawn attention to the mood and asked why the hell he was starting off our mini-vacay with the attitude…. full disclosure.

But now, nearly five years into marriage, I know myself better and I also know us better. I know that I have the power to take him out of this mood because I know what makes him tick and I’m learning what he needs.

The last thing he needed was for me to come at him. Even if I had a point, it would be far from helpful.

No, I knew he needed to have his cup of coffee and he needed me to just listen. I also knew a healthy lunch spot would put a smile on his face so I let him choose and I also knew he responded to touch so I made sure to hold his hand, give him hugs and just let him know I was right beside him.

And it worked!

Well, if that’s not growth, I don’t know what is.

 

Losing 20 pounds – post 8

Okay. It was a slow start getting there but I finally made it to the gym.

I’ve been twice now (Sunday and today, Tuesday) and I AM SORE.

SORE. SORE. SORE.

I worked muscles I didn’t know I had. I learned what a tricep was (totally thought it was somewhere else on my body, haha!) and I breathed deeply, going for it.

Now, I’m a lucky girl. My trainer is my husband (he did it professionally many years ago) and he is very good to me. He keeps me on my toes but knows when to back off. Gentle with his gym-virgin wife yet firm. And even though he tries to be serious, his loving nature shines through as he teaches me.

Everything you want in a trainer, right? ;)

But it comes down to me. And I’m determined. Four times a week is the goal, even though I now fully understand what is meant by “no pain, no gain.”

The gym and weight training is no joke. It’s definitely NOT the easy way, which I realize I had been trying to take since I started this journey, eight posts ago. But no, life took that idea and had a good laugh with it.

I haven’t weighed myself on purpose this week. I don’t want to do it daily, but rather weekly, and track it over time to see if I am losing weight.

So, please stay tuned and see along with me if I make it below 141 after my very first week EVER at the gym…

 

 

Being Alone

As most who know me know, I love being alone.

I can spend days, if not weeks, without human contact and not even bat an eye. I’m not saying this as some badge of honor or anything. Merely as a fact about me. And one pertinent to what I’m about to tell you…

Recently, my husband was heading to the East Coast to visit his mother for some one-on-one time. I was planning to stay home and enjoy my alone time.

Well… things didn’t go exactly as planned.

It just so happened that my grandfather passed away and his funeral was scheduled during the eight days my husband was also away, so needless to say, my alone time at home was interrupted with a four-day-trip to New York.

I had a day alone before flying to the east coast and then I had three days alone after returning.

I know this sounds ridiculous but I was savoring each one of them.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I love and adore my husband and we are seriously perfect for each other BUT we BOTH work from home and though our apartment is nice and large, our kitchen is the size of a bathroom (not kidding!) so when we’re both in there, moving is difficult. For someone like myself who loves (no, needs) alone time, this is all very difficult. I also work nights part-time so my sleep schedule is all over the place.

Anywho…

My grandfather’s funeral was beautiful and we celebrated him with love. I have no regrets and loved him very much.

When I returned home, I was keenly aware of my alone time countdown. I reverted back to the Christina who lived alone for seven years. I pee’d with the door open, I walked around with zit cream on, I worked wherever and whenever I wanted. I slept soundly as there was no one there who could wake me up. I cooked what I liked and didn’t care if the house smelled of shrimp (my husband despises it!) All in all, I had a good time. Not gonna lie.

I was so enthralled with this aloneness though, that I shared a little too much about it with my loving partner, who needless to say did not care too much to hear about how happy I was living it up in Aloneville.

Our reunion wasn’t as heartwarming as it should have been and I take the blame. Rather than express how much I was enjoying being alone, perhaps I should have told my husband how much I missed him.

But the funny part of this whole story, the reason I am writing this long tale, is that I didn’t realize I missed him until after he came home.

I know. Crazy. But that’s how it went.

First, I started to see how nice it was to have him by my side at night. Falling asleep on him is one of my favorite places in the world to be. And sleeping alone, though it was great to sleep diagonally in silence with all the covers, didn’t seem as significant as before. And when something good happened, like when a piece of mine got published, sharing it with him made it so much more meaningful than smiling to no one in the room.

I also realized coming home from work to an empty place isn’t what it’s cracked up to be. Sure, the freedom to do whatever you want is tempting, but much less satisfying that coming home to a smiling partner, who is waiting to eat dinner with you and genuinely tells you they missed you all day.

But what really got me thinking was a few days after my husband returned, I shared with him how much I loved him and that I try to learn about us and grow every day and how I want to show him this more… and you know what, it turned around his entire day, taking it from a shitty one to not so bad.

Love is powerful.

It teaches us daily if we’re open to it. But with it, comes responsibility.

Thank you, Don. For putting up with my demand for alone time but you know what, I might not need it as much as I thought…

 

This is marriage

I wrote a post titled “This Is Marriage” shortly after I married my husband. It was about a bad dream turning into a beautiful reality. I had several people mention it as one of their favorites and the topic stayed in my head.

I find every day is not going to be extraordinary. Some days will be bad. Some happy. Some sad and etc. Most will warp into each other, making a week feel like one long day. But among those forgettable one’s, will be days that leave a lasting effect on you and I had one of those recently.

A few days back, a co-worker/friend and I were chatting about marriage and making things work between two people with different needs.

Isn’t that every marriage, when it comes right down to the nitty gritty? Marriage is a beautiful commitment between two people but it doesn’t make them clones of each other. They’re still two individuals, with individual needs and wants of their own.

Perhaps that is the hardest part of combining one’s life with another. Unless you are replicas of one another, chances are you will be different from your significant other, at least in some ways.

And that’s okay.

I’ve found, however, many times one person in the relationship will take a back seat to the other one, who makes louder demands or wants. Regardless though, the differences are still there; they’re just buried or ignored.

Then there are other relationships where both want to maintain a level of individuality within their marriage. This doesn’t mean you think of yourself as one without the other but rather means it’s okay to be different. No one has to prevail.

For example, I need a lot of alone time (yeah I know, I’ve mentioned it before…) When my husband and I first married, this was a tricky one. He liked to be together when we were home and didn’t care much to be alone. I, on the other hand, thrived on it. At first, we argued. It got personal. Feelings were hurt, words were said.

But then, over time, he learned this was part of who his wife was at her core. Friends and family let him in on how much I liked to be alone. He realized I lived alone for seven years and thoroughly enjoyed it and he began to make sense about why I like alone time and learned it had nothing to do with him. That took courage and confidence…

And you know what? Over time, I noticed he started to know when I needed this alone time (after a restaurant shift, for one!) and now, gives it freely, without me even asking.

When my friend and I were chatting, this realization came to me and I nearly lost my breath.

On the flipside, I’ve learned a thing or two also, like how my significant other does not like to be asked indirect questions. Whenever I would ask a question as a statement, it would make his blood boil. And damn, I realize why! That is not how you talk to someone you love.

Another example: my husband likes to keep the blinds closed while I like the sunlight to blare right on in. But who’s right? Neither, really, as each is entitled to their preference. But we learned each other. When I’m not downstairs and he is, there’s no reason those blinds need to be open and when I’m downstairs, I open them with the understanding that if he enters, a few will be closing so we can each have a little of what we like.

Marriage is not about becoming one another. It’s not about taking the backseat to another. Or “sucking it up.”

It’s about communication. It’s about understanding. Being honest with one another about one’s needs.

Perhaps though, most importantly, it’s about the desire to learn each other.

This does not come overnight though. My husband and I had to learn how to learn each other. It took time and patience. But most importantly, as my lovely co-worker explained, it took the desire to do it.

And that is marriage.

The desire to learn about each other and adjust oneself accordingly in an effort to make a better future together.

#thisismarriage

 

 

10 Days Till Christmas – Giving Back

It’s been a long week. From working more shifts at the restaurant than normal to publishing three different articles on three different sites to writing two chapters of my book to starting this blog series, I admit I’ve spread myself a little thin this week.

This dawned on me when I saw my husband wasn’t very happy with me when I showed up to the volunteer event we were doing to pack holiday packages to families in need, a little late. I also went into “do it” mode, which meant I focused on the task at hand to just get the job done.

He reminded me part of “giving back” is being in the moment and enjoying it, not just getting the job done.

I love that about him. He balances me. He grounds me.

I know this blog series is about giving back and I did attempt to today by going to One Voice LA and spending two hours packing holiday dinner boxes for families in need but I failed too. I did the action but lost the spirit. I was exhausted and it showed.

Sigh. I said I would always be honest in my blog writing so here it is. The truth.

I think right now I should go give my husband a kiss and give back to him. He shows me the holiday spirit everyday and I am so fortunate for that. And I hope the work I did tonight packing those boxes will help make other’s holidays a little brighter.

But I am human.

“The greatest discovery of any generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitude.” -William James, philospher (1842-1910)

 

10 days till Christmas!!

#givingbackblogseries #givingback

Road Tripping Minus One: Countdown

Two years ago, my husband and I took an eleven-day road trip honeymoon from California, through Oregon, up to Washington and then back through Idaho and Nevada, before returning home to Los Angeles,  California.

It was intense, to say the least. I filmed this newly married journey of ours and turned it into a short documentary (for more info, go here.) We were both newbies to road tripping and our schedule proved to be wayyyyyyy too jammed….

But we learned.

And we’re heading back out there.

This time we’ll be tackling the east coast, starting in Florida, heading through Georgia and the Carolinas, up to D.C., and further north to upstate NY, with a finale in Canada. Passports, check!

And this time we’re doing it in fourteen days and going only one way.

See? We learned.

With our home secure and well-watched, we’re heading out tomorrow, before the sun rises since American Airlines decided to change the noon flight I booked to a six am’er. Who knew those even existed?!

I invite you to come along for the ride with us.

Inside of doing any video documentation (I can’t do that to my husband again!), I decided to do a writing series, complete with photos.

I promise to be truthful.

I hope to learn and pass that on.

I hope to meet people different than myself and I hope to talk with them, peacefully and curiously.

I hope to eat amazing food.

I hope to enjoy every moment with friends and family along the way, appreciating that we are able to be together (I was born and raised in Upstate NY and have a ton of family there. My husband was born and raised in Baltimore and spent a chunk of his life on the east coast.)

I hope to be safe and have a shit ton of fun.

Please join me. Expect posts daily but who knows, with spotty internet. But that will be the only reason a post is delayed till the next morning.

And let me know your thoughts and any fun pointers you have along the way. Especially looking for cool things off the beaten track.

Cheers!!

 

“The wise man travels to discover himself.”
James Russell Lowell

 

40 Years of Wisdom

In five days, I will be forty years old.

The twenty-one year old Christina would probably be in awe of a few things, like the fact I’m not a size 0 anymore and I quit smoking cigarettes and my husband is in the other room…

As I was driving home from work last tonight, I was thinking of the coming of this new era for me and some things I’ve learned along the way, like when I was six and I backed my little legs (both of them) up against the exhaust of a newly parked 1970s motorcycle muffler.

You can see #6 below for the lesson learned on that one because I decided to list my “words of wisdom” in order of age, taking some creative license with the first couple seeing as I’m not quite sure I remember being two.

Each of these lessons have remained important to me to this day so I thought I’d pass them on in honor of turning forty. I hope you enjoy them… and the little stories I included along the way.

40 Years Of Wisdom

1. Breathing is a most important thing.

2. My mother makes me more at ease than anyone in the world.

3. I love my family but my brother and I are very different.

4. Playing outdoors is a really fun way to spend your time.

5. School is interesting. But I question if all rules need to be followed…

6. Engines are very hot and second degree burns are no joke. The scars have lasted to this day so point being – Be Aware Of Your Surroundings.

7. We all make bad judgements. Such as being in second grade and pooping your pants and not doing anything about it until you get home… (TMI?)

8. Teachers can be very effective. Thank you Mrs. Riordan. We all hoped to get your class!

9. I love my family, with props to my father who works very hard for his family and my Aunt J. who speaks her mind bluntly but has a heart of gold.

10. Life can suck and be beyond your control.

11. I am different from many other people I come across.

12. Fight for what you want. A big thank you goes to my parents for allowing me to make the choice to go to public school rather than private Catholic school for seventh and eighth grade.

13. This monthly interruption of your body is a thing all women must go through. Men do not. (Which begs the question, would men want to if it meant they could experience childbirth? Talk amongst yourselves…)

14. Boys are fascinating and the dark-haired, tall ones seem extra appealing to me… I am one of those with a type, considering all three of my long-term boyfriends (with one becoming my husband,) were dark-skinned with dark hair and had a height of 6’0 or above.

15. My parents and I will not always agree on things.

16. Driving = freedom with responsibility

17. I am much better writing essays than I am solving math problems.

18. College = freedom with responsibility

19. Friends can be your family too.

20. Whenever I try to fit in, I end up sticking out even more. Faking things just isn’t in my blood. (Sorority life was not for me, though I did meet some amazing girls when I lived in for the year, and one of whom has become a best friend for life.)

21. Drinking Alcohol = freedom with responsibility. (Bonus lesson learned – no matter how much you win, you will lose to the house overall when playing video poker in casinos in Vegas BUT you will likely have a lot of fun doing it while drinking free watered down cocktails at one in the afternoon so it’s important to question first if you’re okay with that.)

22. Difficult choices bring lots of pain. Make them anyways.

23. The road of post-college life is not straight. Not. At. All. And you are the driver so don’t let anyone else take the wheel.

24.  Servers make a lot of money in Los Angeles. But you earn every penny by directly dealing with people who are hungry and been sitting in traffic for two hours to go ten miles.

25. Age creeps up on you. But question, what’s really in the number?

26. Making films is the main thing I want to do in life, though I adore the hell out of writing and should do something about that.

27. Fulfilling a life goal is one of the most rewarding experiences a person can go through. I made my first short film after working odd film jobs for years and just talking about it without doing it. (I have now made seven, played at festivals around the world, write about filmmaking and have a feature script getting some nice attention, which hopefully will lead to making it as my feature film directorial debut… stay tuned!)

28. The years of life go by fast. (Oddly, 28 was a hard year for me. I was tested plenty by the universe and did not pass them all…)

29. My father is my biggest fan. And I am so very lucky to have him as a father. (This is around the time I finally realized it.)

30. I am not always as in control as I think. It’s important to see things as they are, not as I wish them or want them to be.

31. I am not perfect. And neither are all my choices. And I do not have all the answers like I thought I did at 21.

32. My parents are my true best friends.

33. Love comes in all forms. (My nephews taught me how to break down the wall I built, not wanting others to get too close… that is until they entered my life.)

34. I can be the change I want.

35. I must try. I must earn what I want. I must be honest with myself. The rewards will come. (They honestly do!)

36. True love does indeed exist. And holding out for it was one of the best choices I ever made.

37. Relationships take work and are not one-sided. Being in one means thinking beyond oneself. (Ask my husband, as this is not always easy for me but he shows me how through his own actions Every Single Day.)

38. Positive energy begets positive energy. Period. Just try it. You get what you put in. Yin and Yang. Cause and effect.

39. Marriage is a journey, not a destination. And when two people support each other, the sky is the limit.

40. Breathing is a most important thing. (And aging is inevitable.)

Am I an asshole?

I need a lot of alone time.

Definitely more than the average person and probably even more than the person who thinks they need a lot of alone time. Ask anyone who has lived with me, dated me or well, tried to get to know me.

I’m not saying this as some badge of honor. Oh no. It’s a problem and I know that.

But it’s me.

I like to spend time alone. I need it. As weird as it sounds, I’m still getting to know myself and without time alone, I don’t feel entirely free to do that.

Is this different from others? Or am I just more vocal about it? I seriously don’t know but hell, I’m coming clean on my blog right now.

I need a lot of alone time.

Do you?

Someone once said that if you can’t spend time alone, than you’re hiding something from yourself. Wait… Is that just a thought I had from all my philosophy study? I seriously don’t know. But I struggle with original thought when I study from the masters. Are we not to build upon them though?

I digress….

I need a lot of alone time.

But what do you do when that need hurts those you love?

Which side do you fulfill…?

Pause for a moment.

Today, I was talking to my father. Not about this. Not at all literally BUT in the conversation we were having, he asked something about living in reality….

And I was struck!

(Not the first time my father said a statement seemingly simple and yet, so therapeutic….)

Have I adapted to the fact that I am no longer living as one? Married, you are living as two. Individuals, yes. But choices no longer are your own because of the commitment you’ve made to another individual…

What then, if you need alone time?

Is that selfish?

Are you an asshole?

What say you?

Yes, you heard right. My husband and I have decided not to have kids.

I get it. I’ve been married for almost two years now; I’m about to turn forty next month; and I adore my nephews and niece.

I understand the need for some to ask me: “Are you going to have children?”

What I don’t understand though, is the unasked-for advisement that comes next, after I’ve confirmed the fact that they did hear right – my husband and I are not having children.

It’s a choice. We weren’t told we couldn’t have them (though the odd thing is, since neither of us have ever tried or been in that situation, we don’t really know if we actually could do it naturally… but I digress.) Let’s put it this way. We could have all the money in the world and we’d still be making this decision. It’s not the expenses, though that IS a freaky thought these days.

So, what’s the reason? Everyone wants a reason. And we’ve thought about it, because, well, we want one too.

If I had to say a main reason, it would be that both of us want whatever time we have left on this planet to be spent how we want, not how it’s best for offspring. See to us, having a child is THE ultimate responsibility and to be frank, we’re choosing to go another way.

Call us selfish. That’s fine. We are in this regard. But isn’t it great that we know this about ourselves, therefore making it a good thing we aren’t bringing children into the world? And if you really think about it, what we’re doing is… well, the smart thing.

But oh, the advisement….

I’ve heard everything… passionate pleas to give it more thought, details on how to freeze my eggs (for when I come to my senses no doubt), stories of regret, sermons on my “duty”, stares of awe…

On the flip side, however, I do get the occasional high-five and/or big smile of understanding. Those rare souls are rays of sunshine, not because they’re of similar mind (some have children of their own, like my parents!) but because they see it as a choice.

And isn’t that the whole point?

Children are a choice we make with our bodies. Or welcoming those from other’s bodies into our lives.

And in my opinion, this choice should be taken extremely seriously.

I know my husband and I do. Very much. Hence, our decision…

(One final thought for now in case it comes up… if my choices don’t adhere to your religious beliefs, please know you can take comfort in the fact that I have to deal with any consequences you think will come, not you. Also, don’t forget that if YOU have children, THEY have to deal with YOUR consequences. Why not focus on that?)

 

 

 

Why I’m happy my husband and I waited five years to become Facebook friends

I met my husband, Don, on Labor Day 2012 and sparks flew as we walked for hours around Manhattan Beach, talking and getting to know each other. This was followed with a drink by the pier and a couple more hours of conversation.

Talking to Don was like talking to an old friend who suddenly came back into my life. It was like we knew each other but didn’t. And he somehow made me believe true love did indeed exist.

So when a few months into our relationship I asked Don to be Facebook friends, and he declined, let’s just say I was most certainly thrown for a loop.

“How dare he?!” “What in the hell!” “That’s it. It’s over.” 

These are a few things that ran through my head when he told me he didn’t want to be Facebook friends. And then a big one sank in….

What in the world is he hiding?!”

Now, up to this point, Don had not done a thing to make me distrust him and in fact, he did a lot of things that made me trust him, so this was mind-boggling.

The next night we were together, probably within fifteen seconds if I know myself, I unleashed on him. I questioned him and our entire relationship.

I simply couldn’t understand how we could date and be falling in love and yet he didn’t want to “friend me” on social media.

Then, he said something calmly and uncomplicated.

“I don’t want to get to know you through Facebook.”

My inner rage was jolted. And as though it was controlled by a gas-stove dial, the flame went from bursting to barely there.

He had a really solid point. And I liked it. I respected that he didn’t want to learn about me through a social networking service.

So I agreed. We would not be Facebook friends until we were ready.

There was one stipulation though – I would be able to see his page whenever I wanted to, under his login. Come on people, I’m no fool. But he not only agreed, he also invited me to do so right then and there.

Which, of course, I did. But after that, I’ve probably asked him to look at his page maybe five times in the five years we’ve been together. And that was only to see pictures.

Now… flash forward to last week.

After being married for a year and a half, I turned to Don while we were grabbing a drink before dinner and said, “Babe, you think it’s time we become Facebook friends?”

He gave me one of his adorable side-tilted smiles and said, “You want to? Let’s do it.”

He sent me an invite ten seconds later.

And then I realized, after all this time, it’s really fun to suddenly get to see each other’s Facebook life. Not that it’s much different from non-Facebook life, but it is its own entity and I’m not sure Don realizes it, but he discovered a whole new way for us to get to know each other.