true love

If You Dance, You're Insane...

dance-and-music.jpg
...say the people who don't hear the music.

The Doctor and the Medicine Man

I recently heard a story of a young doctor who worked in a hospital in the Navajo Nation. One evening an old Native American man with long braided hair came into this doctor's emergency room. The doctor approached the man, and asked, “How can I help you?”

The old man looked straight ahead and said nothing.

The young doctor, desiring to help this man, tried again. “I can't help you if you don’t speak to me,” he said. “Why you have come to the hospital?”

The old man looked at him and asked, “Do you dance?”

The doctor was puzzled by the strange question when it occurred to him that perhaps this man was a tribal medicine man who, according to ancient tribal customs, sought to heal the sick through song and dance rather than using some of the more modern medical practices.

“No,” said the doctor, “I don’t dance. Do you dance?”

The old man nodded yes.

Then the doctor looked at the man and asked, “Could you teach me to dance?”

The old man’s response was thoughtful and inspires great reflection. “I can teach you to dance,” he said, “but you have to hear the music.”

Can You Hear The Music?

In my nearly 10 years of partner dancing, I've come across a lot of lessons that can be taken from dance and applied to relationships. This story reminded me of one.

You can spend hours watching, learning and practicing a dance, but something magical happens when you put that dance to music.

The music breathes a life into the movements. It gives them meaning and purpose. Somehow dancing makes you one with the music... like your body is producing the notes while at the same time, the notes are moving your body.

A good dance to an amazing song with an amazing dance partner is the closest thing I've ever experienced to magic in my life.

In the world of relationships, there are many "dance steps" you can learn to help improve your relationship. There are tactics, and tips, and principles that you can implement with the hope of fostering more love and connection over time, but...

If you do the moves without hearing and feeling the music, the moves never feel quite right. Ever see a couple exchange pleasantries through gritted teeth when they are visibly upset with each other?

Right moves, no music

Have you kissed someone knowing you were going to break up with them later that night... and you just got this weird pit in your stomach like you're living a lie?

You were doing the moves, but there wasn't any music.

Ever agree to sex while rolling your eyes, or complain about bringing home dinner for the family, or give a compliment with a hint of sarcasm, or begrudgingly offer to help put the kids to bed?

The moves are there, but the music is not.

Sometimes we need a little help getting the music started up again.

It requires us to stop dancing for a minute and check our radio dial.

What frequency are we tuned into? Are we stuck on a station of resentment, exasperation and frustration? Are we listening to the exhaustion, impatient, and short-tempered show? Or are we tuned into the music of concern, gratitude, patience, appreciation, acknowledgement, service, kindness, and love?

When you get tuned into the right music, the dance transforms and becomes the most beautiful thing you'll experience in this life.

It's OK To Look Crazy

As you dance the dance of love you'll come across haters.

These people will give you a laundry list of reasons why love is a joke. They'll tell you you're delusional, idealistic, and destined to failure. They'll criticize you for your commitment. They'll argue that you're throwing away your freedom. They mock your displays of affection. They'll complain about their own loveless relationships to see if they can get you to do the same.

“Those who dance are considered insane by those who cannot hear the music.” -George Carlin

These people will look at your dancing and think you insane because they are deaf to the music of love.

You're having a dance party in your car, and they're looking at you through the glass like you're nuts. If you ask me, it's their loss.

Don't stop dancing.

Ever.

What do you do to hear the music and dance with your partner? Leave your thoughts in the comments!

Episode #49 - Jim and Cindy (Part 2)

moments-you-truly-loved.jpg

[powerpress]In part 2 In this week’s episode we wrap up last week's conversation with Jim and Cindy Wigdahl. Jim and Cindy have been friends for over 30 years, but have only been married for 4 or 5 years. Their story is amazing and sad and full of hope all at the same time. It will open your heart. I hope you love it.

In this conversation, we discuss:

  • Not trying to change each other.
  • Be a good listener.
  • The power of male friendships
  • Don't allow yourself to be drawn to a person who is exactly like you
  • Love yourself first
  • Being ok not having all the answers, and instead being a questioner
  • How losing your spouse changes your perspective of life
  • Loneliness
  • How do you know in 2 months that you were supposed to get married?
  • "I'm happy to be stuck with you." When you're single, if you don't like something, you just leave and find something else that you prefer.

[jbox title="Show Notes:" border="5" radius="15"] If you love the smooth and sultry sounds of Jim's voice, you can check out his voice talent website <a href="jimwigdahl.com" target="_blank">here</a>. Leave your thoughts about this interview in the comments!

<iframe width="100%" height="166" scrolling="no" frameborder="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/18034434&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false"></iframe> <iframe src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F2538722" width="100%" height="166" frameborder="no" scrolling="no"></iframe>[/jbox]

If True Love Doesn't Terrify You, You're Not Really Getting It

danielle-laporte.jpg

Love has a way of always pushing your limits and exposing your weaknesses. If you're feeling stretched, pushed, or even terrified, it's a good sign that you're probably doing it right.

Be willing to go to that scary place, have the hard conversation, and confront your demons..

Pushing through your discomfort will only bring you closer together.

If your love is always easy, you're probably not growing... And that means you're missing out.

Episode #48 - Jim and Cindy Wigdahl

bubble-gum-huey-lewis.jpg

[powerpress]In this week’s episode we sit down with Jim and Cindy Wigdahl. Jim and Cindy have been friends for over 30 years, but have only been married for 4 or 5 years. Their story is amazing and sad and full of hope all at the same time. It will open your heart. I hope you love it.

In this conversation, we discuss:

  • What it's like to marry your friend of 30 years after not seeing them in nearly 2 decades.
  • Jim explains what it's like to be single till your mid-50's... and be happy about it.
  • The feeling of peace that results when you choose to be with someone.
  • The importance of your community supporting your relationship.
  • What it's like to have a short engagement, and end up really courting and getting to know each other after marriage.
  • Jim discusses how his concept of God has changed and grown since he has been married.

Favorite quotes from this episode:

"Don't ultimately hesitate to give your life away. Don't hesitate to release the thing that you cling to, because you will find that it will move into a better thing. And you will find yourself more fortunate because of it." -Jim Wigdahl

"Marriage will break you. It will destroy you. And that's a good thing. Because it will then put you together in a way that is richer, and deeper, and you will be more alive than you ever thought you could be." -Jim Wigdahl

[jbox title="Show Notes:" border="5" radius="15"] If you love the smooth and sultry sounds of Jim's voice, you can check out his voice talent website here. Leave your thoughts about this interview in the comments!

[/jbox]

Practice Creates The Master

IMG_20141020_233050.jpg

Practice makes perfect.

But practice - good practice - is rarely easy. It requires dedication and perseverance. It requires us to push through walls and do things we don't want to do.

Practicing love, especially when loving is hard, is the only way to master it.

You don't need to talk about it, justify it, or even dream about it. You just need to practice.

What areas in your life need improving? How can you lean into the discomfort and pain and force yourself to fall in love with the practice?

Follow me on Instagram. It will be awesome.

Your Choices Make You Who You Are

IMG_20141021_133058.jpg

To me, choice is the most powerful thing in the world.

Your ability to choose is something nobody can take away from you. In it lies your personal power to create a life and a love that you desire.

Your choices make you who you are. They define your relationships. They are the foundation of your character. They create your path and show the world whether you're courageous or cowardly, loving or apathetic, hopeful or resigned.

The best thing about choice is that if you don't like the path you're on, the relationships you've formed, or the character you've created for yourself, you can change it right now...

With one choice.

I'm going to try to start blogging more regularly, but making the blog posts a little shorter. I'd love to hear what you think about that format.

Also, will you follow me on Instagram because I asked nicely?

I'm With You

im-with-you1.jpg

“I’m with you,” I said to her late last night as we held each other tight. I held her and listened, to all her worries. Tears slowly falling down her cheeks, overwhelmed with stress, wondering how we’re going to pay our bills through the winter. Worried our son might have a relapse. Feeling like she’s letting us all down. Scared to pursue things that matter because we’ve failed in the past and she just doesn’t want to feel that pain again. “I’m with you,” I repeated. Three words to let her know I hear her. Three words to let her know “You matter to me, my love.” Offering no judgements. Offering no advice. Just listening. Listening and wrapping my arms around her as tight as I can.

“I’m with you.” My wife needed to know, she’s not perfect, and it doesn’t matter at all, because I’m with her. I don’t need a perfect wife. I need a wife who’s not afraid to love with her whole heart. Letting her know I’m here, with her, no matter what…no matter how hard this season of life we’re currently in is, we’re together…fighting through the shit together. Fighting because our lives matter.

Fighting because she’s worth every ounce of joy and pain and suffering and love and her kisses and her touch and belly laughs and late night slow dances and the times when we don’t even have to say anything at all to each other, we just relax into each others arms and the adventures we share with each other and our kids. Our kids deserve a whole separate run on sentence.

It’s all worth it. This life, with her by my side, is worth it.

I’m with you. Three simple words I first heard in Bob Goff’s amazing book, Love Does. These words are powerful. They let someone know it’s OK to open up. That you’ve given them a safe space for them to be themselves, fully. Three words to let someone know they are loved.

And, isn’t that what we want in life the most? To know we’re loved, valued and appreciated? Ultimately, that’s where we find happiness and joy, in those times when we’re completely ourselves, loved and supported 100%.

It’s so easy, to offer advice. I have this innate desire to fix her problems. Especially when my wife is scared or hurting. I want to do anything I can to take away her pain and end her suffering and ease her worries. I want her to be OK and happy. Yet, sometimes, even though I feel I can do this for her, sometimes, all she wants is for me to listen. To just listen and not try and help.

Sharing our worries and fears and problems with others somehow, is enough to help. Saying things out loud, seems to ease their stranglehold they wield so mightily over us.

So, for now, all I want my wife to hear is this… “I’m with you, my love.”

[jbox title="About the author:" border="5" radius="15"] Josh Solar is a giver of love, creator of art, and an influence for good in the world. If you love love, you will love his blog, (where today's post was originally published) Josh Solar Loves You, and keeping up with his amazing family at The Happy Family Movement. I highly recommend you check out his podcast episode on The Loveumentary as well. [gravityform id="2" name="Subscribe" title="false" description="false"][/jbox]

Episode #45 - How To Rid Your Relationship Of Neediness

Tom-and-Beth-Olson-header.jpg

[powerpress]

Exiting The Friend Zone

The last few months have been a surreal whirlwind of craziness and moments where I just had to sit down and ask myself, "What the heck is happening?"

I've been semi-secretly dating one of my very best friends, Lauren. Lauren and I have been close friends for over 4 years, and fighting our way out of the "Friend Zone" has been an interesting experience to say the least. (That will be another post in and of itself.)

I'll admit that for the majority of our friendship I wanted to date Lauren, and I've fantasized of marrying her on countless occasions. And I'm sure once or twice she was crazy enough to consider marrying me. (She did say yes, after all.) But there were also times where we absolutely knew that we simply wouldn't work together.

When I reflect back on the times when Lauren and I were convinced about our lack of compatibility, one common theme stands out. We lacked compatibility most  when one (or both) of us was not being true to ourselves, or allowing the other to be true to themselves. When I grasped the concept of loving Lauren for exactly who she is and not who she could be, or should be, everything changed for me. Likewise when I allowed myself to be loved - both by me and by Lauren - it's like everything clicked.

We Don't Need Each Other

In this week's interview, Tom talks about dating his wife, Beth. He says that one of the most attractive things about her was that she didn't need him. She could go about happily living her life without him, and be just fine.

When people have love for themselves for exactly who they are, it gives others the permission to love them for who they are.

Few things will corrode a relationship faster than neediness and desperation. It's frightening to be in a relationship with someone who bases their happiness, their moods, and even their self-worth off of how you feel about them on any given day. A relationship full of neediness doesn't allow space for honest conversations, for authenticity, or even for bad days.

Here are a few ways you can get rid of neediness in your relationship to make sure to create an emotional ecosystem where love can flourish and grow:

Practice Self-Love

Your self-perceived value as a human being should not hinge on what others think about you. One of the most common fears in nearly every human I talk to about love is not being "enough." You are scared that you won't be funny enough, or ambitious enough, or smart enough, or attractive enough, or connected enough...

Here's the trick. You will never be enough for anyone else until you are enough to yourself. And you will never be enough to yourself till you begin to treat yourself like you have value... like you matter... like you're enough.

Self-love is an active behavior. It is treating yourself the very same way you treat those you love the most. It involves peaking kindly to yourself. It is forgiving yourself when you make mistakes. It's setting aside time for things that are important to you. It's treating your mind, body, and spirit with respect and dignity.

When you love yourself, you don't ever need anyone else to fill your cup for you. It's already full.

Plus people who love themselves attract love into their lives.

Set Boundaries

Neediness often manifests itself when someone (or both people) in a relationship oversteps their bounds emotionally, physically, or in any other area of the relationship. These moments often result in fights that get emotional and turn ugly.

When emotions get involved in a disagreement, nothing good ever happens. People do not think rationally when their adrenaline is flowing and their heart is pumping. All they can think about it either running away or doing everything it takes to get their way. Both of these tactics are manipulative and neither ever leaves the couple saying, "Wow, I'm glad we did that. What a great conversation."

If you want to avoid the neediness that follows threats, and manipulative conversations learn to fight better. Most couples don't break up because of what they fight over. Some couples get divorced over how to squeeze the toothpaste tube, and others grow closer together after serious infidelity. It's not what you're arguing over that's a threat to your relationship. It's how you argue over it.

If you're feeling insecure, don't make it about his work. If you're feeling under-appreciated, don't attack her about her girlfriends. Be honest. Take ownership of your feelings, thoughts, moods and behaviors. Speak respectfully. Leave the emotion at the door.

If the emotions come up, have a battle plan. Take a break. Go for a walk. Table the conversation.

These are just a few tips on how to eliminate neediness from your relationship. What other ones can you think of? Leave your ideas in the comments.

And while you're here, check out the new Loveumentary Store and get yourself your very own Love More T-shirt!

[jbox title="Show Notes:" border="5" radius="15"] Intro music: For Once In My Life - Harry Connick, Jr.

Theme song: [/jbox]

Don't Be Afraid To Be The One Who Loves The Most

Screen-Shot-2015-06-08-at-8.31.44-AM.png

Today I'm grateful to announce that I am officially a published author! My friend, Tyler Ward, author of Marriage Rebranded, has been collecting marriage advice for Millennials, and asked me to contribute. I happily obliged, and now my work is being published alongside some of my heroes, in his book called Marriage Hacks. The following is my contribution. I wanted to share it with you. If you like it, you'll love the rest of the book. Check it out here:

[jbutton color="red" size="large" link="http://books.noisetrade.com/tylerward/marriage-hacks"]Click Here To Download Your Free Book[/jbutton]


How I Discovered Love Is Not Weakness

On December 11th, 2013 I found myself in a car driving through the back roads of Georgia with a stiff back and weary eyes. I had spent the last two months of my life sleeping on couches, driving from city to city with my friend, Melissa, as we searched the United States for the most passionately in-love couples we could find.

We were nearing the end of our journey, and as always, I had no idea what to expect from the couple we were about to meet. I had no way of knowing I would receive the most important love advice of my life.

When we arrived at Joseph and Anne Gaston’s home, we were treated with 60+ years worth of stories and experiences. They told us how they met and how they fell in love. They recounted the struggles that came with working in the medical field while raising a family, how they had to sacrifice important things so the other could pursue their dreams.

Conversations like this are what I live for—rich in stories, personality, and practical advice. These are the reason I started recording these stories in the first place.

As we were winding down the conversation, we asked the Gastons if they could leave the world with one bit of love advice, what would it be?

Without missing a beat, Anne said,

“Don’t be afraid to be the one who loves the most.”

I felt the air get sucked from my lungs as the power of her words sank in.

I had always been taught that “the person who cares the least always has the most power.” We tell ourselves that not caring—not loving—means we get to dictate the pace of the relationship and the level of commitment. We believe the person who cares the least worries the least, stresses the least, and has the most freedom to do as they please.

We say that loving makes you weak and vulnerable. It makes you a captive in your own relationship, subject to the feelings, moods, and desires of the one you love.

One simple sentence by an 80-year-old woman changed a lifetime of belief for me.

I suddenly realized that love is not weakness. It’s power.

Love is the fuel that makes relationships work. Loving someone more than they love you is not stupid or crazy or foolish. It’s the bravest thing you can do in this life.

True love is given without conditions or expectation of reciprocation. We can love others even when they are imperfect and flawed. We can cherish them, serve them, and forgive them even when they break promises, say unintentionally hurtful things, fall short, or forget.

Love is unfair… and that’s what makes it so amazing and beautiful.

When we aren’t afraid to be the one who loves the most, and we find a partner who is also committed to loving big, we get the experience of receiving love even (and especially) in the moments we least deserve it.

That is what true love is all about. Don’t miss out on true, deep, meaningful, connected love.

Don’t be afraid to be the one who loves the most.

[jbox title="Get The Book!" border="5" radius="15"]Don't forget to check out the book Marriage Hacks with contributions from Gary Chapman, Danny Silk, Gary Thomas, your's truly, and many others.

[jbutton color="red" size="large" link="http://books.noisetrade.com/tylerward/marriage-hacks"]Click Here To Download Your Free Book[/jbutton]
Want to get the 30 Day Gratitude Challenge sent to your email inbox every day? Fill out this little form here:

[gravityform id="2" name="Subscribe" title="false" description="false"]

[/jbox]

How Gratitude Helped Me Find My Way To Monogamy

i-want-you.jpg

I never truly believed I’d get married. As a little girl, I dreamed of being the beautiful woman in the ball gown that the Prince chose to dance with at the Cinderella ball.

"That one," he’d say, pointing at me.

I would feign surprise, of course. "Who? Me? No..."

But I wouldn’t really be surprised. After all, if you’re the type of girl who gets chosen by a prince, you probably never doubted your specialness.

Just as often, I dreamed of a line-up of Princes, and getting to take my pick. Given that this was the 80s, my choices were probably Ricky Schroder, Michael Jackson (Thriller-era), the Karate Kid, and maybe Bo from Duke’s of Hazzard. And they were all in love with me.

But I never saw myself having a life with a guy. As I got older and fell in love, I fantasized about spending the night with a man -- a whole night. But I always froze in terror at the idea of waking with bad breath and needing to use the bathroom. No, I thought, I’ll always live on my own. Then I could always go home before morning.

Even as an adult, I could never settle on one guy for long. When I was supposed to be getting into committed relationships, starting around age eighteen, I couldn’t be. I was a monogamy failure from early on, even though I loved being in love. I even loved the intimacy of being with just one guy.

But my eyes and my heart always wandered. I hate to say it, it makes me feel like a terrible person, but it’s true. I wasn’t looking for something better, necessarily. I was looking for someone else to remind me that I was good enough. Looking for yet another prince to point at me, to choose me, to make me valid and real and worthy.

If it sounds to you like I was a profoundly insecure young woman, you’re right. But I fooled everyone around me, including myself. I exuded confidence most of the time. I felt pretty and sexy and desirable... but only for so long. The sense of being good enough always wore off after one guy’s affirmation was no longer shiny and new, and I’d go looking for more.

I started to wonder if I could ever be married, ever have children. After marrying at 21 and divorcing before I was 24, I decided that I would never be a mother. I didn’t want to commit, I didn’t think I was stable enough in a relationship to ever make a home solid enough for kids. And mostly, I didn’t believe in life-long love.

It took a few years after my divorce to really trust a man again. I had a lot to work through before I could be a good long-term partner for somebody. Specifically, my need for external validation from guys and my tendency to develop outlandishly intense crushes needed to be addressed. And let me tell you, that was not an easy road to walk.

I wondered, after talking with friends who were in polyamorous or otherwise open relationships, whether that was who I was. I have come to believe that while being committed to a person is a choice, being poly- or monogamous is probably more of an orientation, like sexuality. Was that my issue? Did I have some sort of innate need for more than one partner? Could I really be honest and forthright with whatever partner I ended up with about my desires for other people? Would I be able to handle them being as open? Most successfully polyamorous couples suggest that rather than being a license to cheat, polyamory takes more commitment to the marriage, more honesty and two very healthy individuals.

In my late twenties, I met my husband, and he was (and still is) the most monogamous human being on the planet. He was also the absolute best partner I could have imagined for myself. Not only was he handsome (and still is), he had a truly optimistic outlook on life. He laughed easily, he thought I was a goddess, and he let me always be in charge of the music in the house or the car. He saw both my intelligence and my beauty, and made me feel I was the smartest person in the room, even though he is probably twice as intelligent as anyone I’ve ever met, myself included.

For him, it was monogamy or bust. The choice after that was easy: The best man I’d ever met vs. the great unknown, dictated by my own insecurities. That was when I fell into gratitude. I knew I had to let my gratitude for love, for the goodness of a true partner, become more important than my fear.

As committed as I thought I was to other guys in my past, I grew into real monogamy late. I’m grateful I was faced with that choice, and I’m grateful that at that one clear-eyed moment I was able to appreciate the value of the man standing in front of me, offering me real, life-long love (not to mention a family).

Once I finally accepted monogamy – not just as a rule I was being forced to live by, but as my own choice both physically and emotionally, I was finally capable of having a profoundly intimate relationship with someone, and to be grateful for what we built together. Others may be able to gain that type of intimacy in poly relationships or while dreaming of someone else, but I wasn’t.

I’m grateful for the strength of my husband, who valued himself enough to say, “This is who I am, this is what I want. Decide if you’re with me.” And I’m grateful that I finally got to a place where I could say, “Yes, I want you. Just you,” and learn to be grateful for the love that exists today, that is real, and that we built together.

[jbox title="About the author:" border="5" radius="15"] Joanna Schroeder is the type of working mom who opens her car door and junk spills out all over the ground. She serves as Executive Editor of The Good Men Project and is a freelance writer whose work has appeared on sites like xoJane, hlntv.com, and The Huffington Post. Joanna loves playing with her sons, skateboarding with her husband, and hanging out with friends. Her dream is to someday finish her almost-done novel and get some sleep. Follow her shenanigans on Twitter.

Want to get the 30 Day Gratitude Challenge sent to your email inbox every day? Fill out this little form here:

[gravityform id="2" name="Subscribe" title="false" description="false"]

[/jbox]