Sunday, September 29, 2013

17 years and counting...

It was another beautiful fall day. The trees were plump with ripe leaves, my very favorite mixture of colors covered the mountain behind the beautiful Orthodox church that day. The sun was shining in the clear blue sky. As the frost from the morning thawed everything dripped with a heavy dew. But I didn't notice any of that.

Because today was my wedding day.

I was nineteen. I was naïve. I was bashful. I was self doubting. I was ready to dedicate the rest of my life to my friend of five years who claimed to love me. Was this the "right" decision? That remained to be seen...

He was a gangly "geek" if you will. Geeky in most things like most geeks are...computers, Star Trek, Star Wars, Church theology, politics, etc. He was my opposite, if you will. He was also not at all like my father and not at all the type of person I had imagined marrying some day. But was that a bad thing? I was an Alaskan girl, after all, the state is full of robust hunter like men in all of their manly glory. Was I "supposed" to marry someone like my father? Someone less geeky perhaps? Someone less zealous in life? Someone less intent on having silly old me for themselves?? I really couldn't decide, you see, I hadn't "fallen in love" with him.

He certainly had with me. He had some compelling arguments and had great wit and humor that he used to try and convince me. I had to rely on my gut as my guide. His arguments did convince me that he would never leave me. His arguments convinced me that he loved me and that loving a wife is a husband's job. He convinced me that he had a great career, that he was awesome at what he did and that he would be a great provider so that I could be a mother (my life's dream was to be a stay-at-home-mom).

But, what if?

My indecision caused him great stress (not to mention my own stress). He was patient with me and didn't push me. I wanted to cancel the wedding and he said that was fine. My friend asked me, "do you love him?!" and I had to say yes, but I didn't think I really meant it. But the thing that really stuck in my craw was "Well, what if I let him go?  He runs off and eventually finds himself another woman?" No, that just wouldn't do. I was jealous of him before I ever thought I loved him and before he was mine.

That jealousy caused me to commit to him. I realized that if nothing else, even if I never had those warm fuzzy "in love" feelings that he would love me, take care of me and, if nothing else, be my friend. My gut and my head won the argument against my "heart" because it didn't know what the heck it was doing.

Seventeen years later I am here to report.

I realized those fuzzy feelings are typically feelings of lust. I have lusted my husband on and off for 17 years. Other men too. I tell him about those feelings as he tells me about his. We don't get upset or hurt by it for some reason...many other friends think we're crazy to talk about our "crushes" or "dang, he's hot" sort of things with each other. I don't know why we do it, but we do. The feelings and crushes disappear as soon as we confess them to each other too.*

Love is something different. Love is giving of yourself, it's HARD to love, because love is actions. Constant attention to the person you're supposed to be loving. That is difficult work. I personally suck at it. I didn't realize, until this year that I've had a wall up in our marriage for 17 years. The wall of self hate. That wall has caused me to not let my guard down, not be really giving of myself. This year, I had a giant light bulb go on in my brain and it blew my mind. I have not been the same since.

"You can't truly love someone else until you love yourself."

Very simple, but very true. It his changed me. It has changed the way I see people. It has changed the way I react to people. It has changed the way I talk, treat, respect and act to those closest to me. The ones who needed me to change are beginning to see the new/real me. The one who finally sees that God loves me like His child that I am, and with that true knowledge, it will drastically change a person.

All of this to say simply this:

17 years of marriage is very hard, very good, but mostly hard. It can, however, be done. You have to LOVE, give up your own will constantly, and take a verbal beating from time to time. Conflict in marriage is not a bad thing. If you don't ever fight you won't figure anything out. If you have the capability to simply discuss with no feelings involved, more power to you. My husband is quite fiery and I have discovered I am as well. So our fights are LOUD!

After 17 years of being married to this man I am now: the mother of 6 amazing children, the owner of a self made business of 10 years that I run from my home, not self doubting, still a little bashful in person at first, probably still naïve, confident and self admittedly, awesome.

I thank my husband for most of this (not all, after all, I am awesome). Not only for sticking with me, but encouraging me to come out of my shell, to embrace some of my more insane ideas and run with them. To remind me that I am awesome and I can do great things if I put my mind to it.

The cool thing is that as time has gone on he has grown less geeky and more robust. He has even started hunting in the last five years (that's hot). I think he's very handsome and am VERY glad he's not out there with some other woman. I'm glad he's mine, all mine.

*Please note that this practice of sharing so honestly is NOT for everyone. I am confident in the knowledge that he will never leave me and that is why I don't get offended when he says such things. Most women are not this secure and so I believe this would be hurtful in many marriages, not a positive thing.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Pictures and fall

Last Tuesday my daughter discovered a kitten with our cat, surprised at a kitten she didn't think one kitten was enough, she found two other "dead" ones and revived them. (long funny story, perhaps I'll talk about that when I have time and energy)

Sunday we drove down to Girdwood (hippie ski town 45 min from Anchorage) for our Anniversary "weekend" with my sister and her husband, we did this 2 years ago with them and it was great. It was a beautiful rainy day, I adore that drive along that coast. The tide was going out and the mud flats looked especially stunning.

One of the mountains on the way there, you could see the separation so nicely of fall and winter. I love this time of year.
Monday we woke up to snow outside of our shared Chalet.

Monday was a hard day of watching HGTV, eating an amazing lunch where we had real drunkards present (entertaining especially on a Monday at 2pm) and napping, oh, then the hot tub and sauna rounded out the day.
Tuesday we ate breakfast at "The Bake Shop" at the foot of Mt. Alyeska, it was clear and gorgeous. Time to head home.
When I worked for a living, I hated the commute to Anchorage, but now, I adore this amazing drive home. Here's the Matanuska River.

I took this picture of the Butte for Hillary. The Butte has always made me think of my sweetest cousin and now that she's moved I have dedicated the Butte to her. (it's the tiny hill out in the field in front of the cloud line) We finally got to climb it this summer and it was so fun.
This is the Experimental Farm we pass when coming home, I love the Midwestern feel of the homes in Palmer and on this farm. Reminds me of being in the L48 but happy to be home in Alaska as you can clearly see from the mountains and Knik Glacier on the right tucked back there. (above the shed in the filed, that white patch is the glacier)
Yesterday I was running errands and had to take my sister's birthday gift to her. The 3 mile drive to her house is out of this world this week. The undergrowth in the woods are so full of vibrant color, I had to take some pictures.

Sample of the leaves back there.

Had to snap a pic of my yard. Looking quite clean shaven and well dressed. The new fence is so handsome and the yard is inviting. (garden is also all brought in and put away, the chickens are loving the remains!) What a nice fuzzy feeling I have when things get wrapped up each fall.

My sister and me on the beach where we were looking at whales on our way home from Girdwood. Not my favorite picture of me but it's a wonderful one of her. This was on her birthday. I love that woman so much I think my heart might burst.