When flowers are just the icing on the cake

Today is my wedding anniversary and last night my husband and I were looking at each other and asking , “What should we do to celebrate?” Neither of us had any great ideas other than our usual… cook a nice meal together, enjoy a good bottle of wine, and maybe break out the massage table.
A heaviness started to come over me. I was fighting to hold back tears as we lay on the couch together, chit-chatting about all that’s going on in our life.
I knew I was feeling. I just didn’t know what I was feeling.
I realized I was feeling something about the fact that next week he was planning to take a day off to go fishing and asked me to cover for the fish farm, and that the following weekend he’s away for the whole weekend for his cousin’s stag-do and I’d be on fish duty again.
I could identify a Sadness, but I didn’t know why. And I was judging my own sadness. “You should be grateful Kendra for what you have.” “Stop letting your hormones dictate your happiness.”
My judgemental inner critic carried on… “Stop being so controlling! He never gets a break from the fish, let him have a couple of days off without spoiling it for him!”
I noticed the expectation… “Tonight and tomorrow should be filled with romance and intimate connection. That’s what’s supposed to happen to have a healthy marriage.”
And I noticed some fear creeping in… “If you say the wrong thing you’re going to totally blow it and ruin the night and your anniversary.”
Thankfully I knew enough to collect myself before speaking, otherwise it would be a jumbled gush of emotion that would only cause more pain and disconnection. I gave myself some space to just be and let the tears brim until I could find some loving words to express how I was feeling.
After a good 5 minutes of giving myself the time to sit and just be held in his arms, I realized that the inner conflict I felt all linked back to the core feelings that Liberty taught us about on the True You Italia retreat. I was super grateful I finally had a name for them.
After another 5 minutes of just breathing and allowing the feelings to just be, I was able to use the new words I learned and express myself in a way that could be heard.
I was able to tell him, ‘I am Glad for you that next week you have some time off. I’m feeling Guilty that I’ve had more time away than you have had over the past couple of years. I am Sad that we don’t get to have full days off together to go experience the world like we used to.’
And I started to express a desire of mine. ‘I feel like something is missing. I want more adventure, fun, a break from the norm with you. Yes, we get to spend time together, and don’t get me wrong, having 2 meals a day together is something special that I cherish. But I need more.’
Of course, I couldn’t quite place my finger on what that ‘more’ was right then and there, leaving him in a state of confusion. (Those damn women! 🙂 )
He left for his final fish feeding round of the day, and as I was in the shower it dawned on me (ever notice moments of brilliance always happen in the shower?)…
I want to be surprised!!!!
So I texted him to let him know.
This in and of itself was monumental. A change in pattern for me.
Instead of downplaying and hiding my true desire, telling myself that I am silly, or undeserving, or wrong somehow for having a need, I shared it with him in the moment.
It also dawned on me that I have a part to play in the element of surprise in our relationship. So I got a bit silly.
And pulled out on 8 year old fancy dress costume that he had bought me for my birthday when we first met… “Maybe I’ll try it on and see if it still fits.”, I thought.
It did more than fit. As I pulled on my yellow and black stripey leg warmers, and threw on my pair of bee wings, I felt like a kid again! The same childlike innocence that was a cornerstone of our initial romance.
And I realized what I was missing in addition to Surprise.
We have been so busy ‘working’ at getting our businesses to a point of stability that we’ve forgotten how to play.
Last night gave me a much needed reminder that I need to play more, work less.
So as I was buzzing around the kitchen, preparing dinner as usual, I got to do it with a smile on my face, and more importantly, on my heart. Not only was I having fun dressing up for no reason at all on a random Tuesday night other than because I felt like it, I couldn’t wait to see the look on his face when he came home.
The story could’ve stopped there, but it got even better.
He came home from a planned stop at the shop, and behind his back pulled out a brightly coloured bouquet of flowers.
This from a man who 8 years ago kindly forewarned me… “Just for the record, I don’t do flowers. They’re just going to die.” (Ever the practical one.)
“I only just got your text.”, he said. “I was planning to surprise you anyway.”
The smile on my heart grew. And not just because of his surprise of the flowers, but because I had given myself a gift first.
I gave myself the space to feel, express myself without judgement, wake up to my own desires, and fulfill them for myself (that bee outfit won’t be packed away at the back of closet after this).
It was from a place of already being filled up, that I was able to receive his gift.
It was the icing on the cake.
All I can say is, give yourself the space to do the same. Feel, express, name your own desires, and start to meet them for yourself. Basically, give yourself the love you’re probably looking for.
Go play, be silly, have an adventure, surprise yourself and the ones you love.
You won’t be disappointed, promise.

Finding my calm in the middle of the storm

This story of the week is actually the story of the Year. It started August 2015, or actually June 2015, or actually… how far back do we ever have to go to find the beginning of our story?

It’s a story of learning to Trust. Be Open to what I can’t explain. And learning what Love is. Especially when it hasn’t always felt good..

Here’s how it begins.

On June 1, I experimented with a True You Treasure Hunt and the treasure I found that day looked like this: Don’t expect to take the weather with you when you move climates.

It was June 1st and I was taking a hot bath to keep warm. I’d rather it be jumping in a pool to keep cool on June 1st, but hey ho. Not my ideal weather, but I was trying to let it go. The weather isn’t really something to get upset about now is it?

On July 5th I left my house that morning to go for a walk in the Brecon Beacons and it was wet and gray. By that evening I found myself sitting on my couch facing my husband saying the words, ‘I need space’.

Fyi telling your husband that you need space is scary.

I didn’t need space from him, but I needed space from the gray, from wanting my coaching efforts to pay off, from the never ending saga of setting up a fish farm, from wearing gloves and having the heat on in July.

But still, you never know what they’re going to say.

I am forever grateful that he understood and could lovingly and graciously look at me and say. ‘OK. Why don’t you go to home to NY for a few weeks?’ I’m not sure I would’ve done the same.

When I heard him say that, something clicked though. ‘Home? That’s not the space I need. I want to go to Italy.’

On August 4th I was on a plane to Rome for a 10 day ‘work-away’ stay in Abruzzo. I had no idea what to expect other than sun, heat, blue sky, and that I’d be doing odds and ends at an eco-tourism village in exchange for room and board.

It turns out it was an experience I still can’t explain.

By Sunday August 9th, I was sleeping in the bed of the daughter of the woman who owned the eco-tourism project that I had rocked up to. (If that sounds kinky, it’s not.) We had started talking while chopping tomatoes and sun bathing on the beach, and it turned into one of those moments when the you look at each other and think, ‘Right, I’m not in Kansas anymore. We’ve clearly walked into each other’s life for a reason other than my trimming your olive trees and you giving me a respite from Welsh summer.’ She invited me to stay overnight in her city apartment so we could talk about potential opportunities of working together in the future.

It became clear that I could help support her and her growing business from back in Wales, which would give me the opportunity to establish some roots in Italy and let my dream of living there start to take shape.

I remember giving my husband a call and filling him in on the developments and feeling:


Now, I have never been pregnant, and I have no idea what real pregnancy feels like. But that was the second time in my life my where my womb space felt like something was growing in it.

Once, the day I opened myself up to spending the rest of my life with my now- husband. Twice, that day when I opened myself up to creating a life in Italy.

A check-in here about what that impregnated feeling felt like: Like being in the eye of a storm.

Complete calm, completeness, and certainty, in a sea of a million questions, unknowns, no plans, and uncertainty.

I was sure, even though I had nothing to be sure about. I was saying ‘Yes’, without a guarantee.

And I was holding on to that pregnant feeling while the questions of, What does this mean? Are you crazy? Where’s the 10 step plan? What about this? What about that?, were vehemently swirling around me.

It just so happened that the week I was in Italy, I was reading Marianne Williamson’s book, A Return to Love.

She planted a seed of truth in my mind and my heart that I held on to: Only Love is real.

I guess that’s what left me feeling calm in the middle of that shit storm… I was opening myself up to Love.

Now here is where it gets really interesting.

I think Love, and I think, Yay! Hugs and kisses and hearts and roses and everything turns out perfect! No stress, no worries, no angst.

Far from it.

For the next 5 months I was tested in every way possible.

I thought this decision to open myself to Love, to say yes to an opportunity that I knew in my gut, my heart, my soul, was the way forward, would be smooth sailing. It would give me financial security, it would give me my dreams on a platter.

What it gave me instead was growth.

For 5 months I wrestled with the question: do I stay or do I go now?

The growing pains of navigating a new working relationship, of not having all expectations met, of putting your foot in your mouth and having to clean it up when your dark side is seen.

For 5 months I felt like I was on a seesaw.

But I felt so sure back in August! Was that false? Did I somehow trick myself? Can I no longer trust my gut and that feeling that feels so good and is so hard to explain?

Because this doesn’t feel good anymore! My body doesn’t feel good and I’ve practicing listening to my body! If that’s the case, I should run!

Except here’s the thing: Your body is not going to feel good when you have jumped aboard the Fear boat.

Your body will always feel good when it is in the middle of Love.

It doesn’t matter if the final decision is to stay or to go. That part is irrelevant. What matters is how you feel when you make that decision.

Whatever you choose, if it’s surrounded with Love, it is the ‘right’ decision for you.

I didn’t quite get that at the time, but thankfully 5 months ago I knew enough not to jump ship because that didn’t feel good either. And what I found by staying, was learning how to Love more. How to surrender my own expectations of how story would all unfold, and actually walk with what is.

What I got to experience was a miracle on so many different levels.

To be given the gift of watching another person’s journey to Love unfold in front of me as I was on my own. To see a Jew and Christian ‘by birth’ be able to share experiences of the same God. To discuss business challenges in two very different industries and realize that the only difference is the number of zeroes stuck on the end of the number.

To experience that although we looked different on the outside, we are actually the same on the inside.

Which brought me full circle to a place of being open, being able to listen to what’s in front of me.

And so this summer, when I kept putting off my dream of having a True You Retreat in Italy until 2017 (because of fear of not having enough time or people in my life), but then had these words of encouragement said to me 4 weeks ago:  ‘Why don’t you just have it this September. You’re going to be here anyway.’

I could listen to the nudge.

And once again find the calm within the storm of How? And Who? And What do I do now?

And so begins the next cycle of Listening, Trusting, Growing, and Loving. And dare I say Healing and dare I say Living?

I am currently walking through the Growing part… the process of actually walking forward into the uncertainty and the unknown after you choose to Trust. I’ve never held a retreat before. And fyi… there are lots of inner and outer world obstacles to navigate. And even now as I am writing this on August 21st 2016, even with the certainty that 5 of us will be there in September, I still have no idea how it will turn out!

But as I look back over the past 14 months, here’s what I’ve learned and keeps me moving forward.

#1: Don’t poo poo your dissatisfactions and disgruntledness. If you’re not happy, you’re not happy. There’s probably a good reason why. And instead of trying to force the smile and pretend it’s all OK (because the weather, or my problem du jour, is such a silly thing to be upset about, I have it so good), call a spade a spade. If the weather is pissing you off, let it piss you off. You never know where it will lead you.

#2: Always be open, be present to what is right in front of you. I arrived in Italy last year with an inkling of a dream to live there and have retreats there, and imagined it was years down the road. It would require us owning a villa tucked away somewhere. When events began to open up different doors that had the potential to lead me to the same place, part of me wanted to say No, this doesn’t fit my picture. What about, oh yeah, I don’t have the whole picture.

Lesson #3: It’s ok to trust the feeling of complete calm, peace, and serene knowing from deep within. It may only last a moment, (because the minute you take the first step of action all the fear and uncertainty and doubt now has a new spot on the path to try to take over), but trust the moment.

Lesson #4: Choices when you are open, and present, and inviting in Love, will feel good. It doesn’t matter whether the choice is to end something or start something, you will still have the peace and the calm to ground you even if only for a moment. That doesn’t mean that Fear, Doubt, and Distrust goes away forever. And so when you find yourself in that boat, find your way back to Love. Chances are you’ll grow as you find your way there.