Happily Ever After – Learning to Love the One You’ve Found

This is a blog about finding making your own happiness and learning to appreciate all the little things while they’re happening instead of waiting till they’re gone to fully grasp their worth. So, in the interest of full disclosure, I thought that I would share something I’ve been pondering lately. Brace yourself, you may not like it. When it comes to relationships, or anything really, there is no such thing “Happily Ever After”. I know this is not a new idea. Most of us outgrow our concept of ‘happily ever after’ very shortly after we think we’ve found it. We believe that we’re mature and self-aware and recognize that relationships take work. But deep down, after so much inundation through fairy-tales and films, self-help books and motivational seminars, billboards and commercials and ads, oh my, we cling to these ideals that breed doubt and plant seeds of resentment. They consistently whisper in our ears, “if this takes so much work, it must not be right.” Or perhaps they cause us to whisper in the ears of our friends who are struggling, in a genuine attempt to encourage or help them, “you just haven’t found the right person yet,” implying that once they do find the love of their life they’ll find happiness… forever after. These latent ideas, stuck deep in our subconscious, lead us to believe that struggle is bad – having to “work at it” is a sign of a problem, rather than a part of the solution. They insinuate that happiness is easy and, by definition, cannot co-exist with pain or struggle. This is poison. And, if it takes root in your thought life, it will lead to bitterness, which, if left to grow unchecked, will turn your relationship doubts into self-fulfilling prophesies. I am convinced that the divorce epidemic in our culture is as least partly due to the fact that people don’t expect happiness to be hard sometimes. Trust me, it is. But just because it’s hard, doesn’t mean it’s gone. It usually means is growing.

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Too often we expect to find… hope to find… believe we have found (or begin to doubt whether we’ve really found) the “love of our life”, and we hope this discovery leads to remarkable, life-changing feelings of happiness that never take a sabbatical for growth and development. But, more and more, I am discovering that, in all different kinds of relationships, be they significant-others, spouses, or BFFs, it’s not about finding the love of your life. It’s about learning to love the one you’ve found. It’s always easy in the beginning. When everything is new and exciting and every time you turn around you learn something new about this person you’ve come to admire. But what about when everything is old news, surprises are hard to come by, and you know this person so well you can finish their sentences. Or life grows ever-increasingly intense with the addition of kids, a promotion (or job loss) requiring travel or ungodly hours, or the loss of someone close to you? What does love look like then? At this stage of the game, love doesn’t always come easily to you. Sometimes you have to give it for a while before you get it back. You have to study, not what is the most natural way for you to show love, but what is the most natural way for the person you are trying to give it to to receive it. What speaks most strongly to them? As our circumstances change and our lives and beliefs and inner-selves change, we have to re-learn how to love the person we easily loved in the beginning. Yes, we have to be mindful of our own needs and communicate them effectively, but we cannot allow them to be the primary focus of our attention. Self-focus breeds discontent. Other-focus breeds fulfillment. And loving someone who is constantly growing and changing, as healthy people should, requires that the love itself also grow and change to adapt to the person it’s bestowed upon. This is tricky business. And doesn’t always feel happy. But it always builds it.

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And what is the return on all this investment? Why put forth the effort to continually re-learn how to love? Why not just move on when love gets hard or the relationship requires too much work? It will be easy again at the beginning of the next one. I think the answer to that question lies in the immeasurable value of having someone who bears witness to the entirety of the artwork that is your life and having the privilege of being that witness for someone else. Loyalty and commitment afford the unique benefit of having someone who understands YOU not just through the lens of your current life circumstance, but with a broader understanding of who you have been in your weakest moments and how those moments have produced times of shining strength. They see all the layers upon layers of your glorious painting that many who just entered the picture can only see the surface of. They appreciate the light because it’s balanced by the shadow – that they walked through with you. Darkness is where light is born and it’s contrast makes it so much more radiant. I don’t know about you, but for this reward, I am willing to put in the work.

Making Music Happen

Most of you who know me personally know that music is a central theme in my family and our home. It was a huge part of my past (having worked for 6 years toward a guitar performance degree) and a significant part of what made me who I am today. Although I rarely play anymore, as life, work, and children have engulfed my time, it does give me a certain measure of credibility and experience in working with and alongside my husband in his ongoing and consistently driven musical efforts, and also in instilling musical passion in my children. I have discovered that the active practice of our life’s various loves often waxes and wanes as time marches on and our circumstances change with its beat. But just because we may not participate actively in the same passions throughout all stages of our lives, does not mean those passions have died. For whatever length of time we did practice them, we wrote them on our hearts and made them a part of whatever we choose to practice in the future – in my case, blogging, gardening, hosting book clubs, raising children, and supporting the passions of those I love (just to name a few). But I digress…

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This post is about music. And it has been quite a week for musical happenings in our home. The first and most minor event is that I restrung my classical for the first time in years! Given the above diatribe about life’s changing passions, I hope this does not cause any of you to immediately assume you will be hearing the classical renderings of Diana Scarborough (as last heard circa 2005) any time soon. But it is a step. A small step. It opens the window a crack so that if I feel the whim and decide to exercise my fingers a bit, at least it won’t sound like doo doo. (Did I just say doo doo? I’m such a MOM!) But the most pleasant side effect of this effort is that my hubs, who plays all the time, will now be able to play my guitar if he wants to. And it is a BEAUTIFUL instrument. I know that I am biased toward it in the much the same way parents are toward their children (OK, maybe not that much), but it really is lovely. This classical can sing. And it has been hanging on the wall, un-played, for far to long now.

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The second musical event is that our oldest son, Aiden, was given his first real instrument! From the time he was old enough to favor one instrument over another, drums have always been his biggest love. And the kid’s got rhythm. He doesn’t just beat around and make noise like most 4 year-olds would. He creates beats. He jams. He writes lyrics and melodies to accompany his playing and he gets after it. When a good friend saw him playing at a party recently, he was so taken with his ability and inspired by his passion that he determined then and there to buy him his first kit. The very next day, he did! It arrived in the mail a few days later and he has been playing every day since. Lessons will be soon to follow, but for now, we are just letting him revel in the excitement and joy of playing something his size that belongs to him and makes him feel proud.

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The last and most important event is that Jonathan (aka Hubs) has completed and self-released his first album – an accomplishment several years in the making. Music is easily his biggest passion and the thing he gains the most fulfillment from in life. He has labored for a long time to meticulously perfect and pour himself into these 11 song. Writing, performing, and producing every bit of it in our home studio in the sparse time that life, work, and children have left him to work on it. But he never gave up, even when he felt like it didn’t matter anymore. That it could never get done. That he could never find the time. He did. He pressed on and now he has something beautiful to show for it. The beginning of a legacy. I don’t know if thousands of people will hear it in his lifetime, but some will, and those who do will be changed by it. And now he has walked through that door, closed it, and is free to walk through the many that lay ahead. I am so proud of him. And if any of you would like to experience the reason for that pride, click his image below to hear a sample, download the album, or order an actual CD. It is surprising, unique, and full of life… just like he is. I am excited to share this piece of him with the world.

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A Letter To My Unborn Son

Dearest Little Owen,

You are due to arrive into this world and our family in only two days. Judging by all of your wild and crazy movement and your attempted early escape four weeks ago, I think you are ready! I may not be a first-time-mom with all the eager overconfidence that makes each pack of diapers and each little outfit an exciting trip down possibilities lane – everything new and unknown and full of potential. But even as an experienced mama, I am nervous and excited to meet you. Whereas the first time around, I was so eager to teach my son everything I could about life, this time I am more eager to learn from you everything you will be able to teach me. I know I have already learned far more as a parent than I ever imagined possible and I am excited to see what new challenges you will bring into my life and the life of our family. I know you will not be a replica of your brother, but with him as my only experience, it is sometimes hard to imagine in what ways you will be different – your own unique person with individual traits and desires, habits and interests, and contributions to all those around you in this journey called life. I selfishly hope that you will look a little more like me, since your brother looks just like his daddy – although you’d be luckier to look like him as well. I hope that you and your brother will be the best of friends and be able to teach each other things that your daddy and I never could. I hope that you will grow to be a generous, caring, responsible, and inspirational man one day. That you will be more apt to listen than to speak. That you will never take others for granted but learn everyday how to meet them where they are in their journey. That you will always know, no matter what, that your daddy and I LOVE you and will be proud of you for the good choices you make, even if they are different from the ones we would choose for you. I hope that you will always be full of wonder and hunger for life and that you will not let the world and its ailments drag you down. I hope that we are able to be good examples for you as you grow, but more than that, I hope that you will surpass us in character and accomplishment as you make your own path. I hope that I can love you as only you deserve to be loved. I have already started and I know that my capacity for this love will only grow as you do. I can promise you that, at times, I will fall short, but I will never give up and I will do my best to be humble and forgiving and I hope that you will do the same for me. My sweet, tiny little man, I hope you have a wonderful birthday. I can’t wait to meet you!

Love, Your Adoring Mama

A New Year . . . A New Look!

It has been 1 year today since I bought the domain for “Nostalgia In The Making” and began the journey that many of you have borne witness to and seen develop over time. One year of growth and change, good posts full of great ideas and other not so inspiring posts that were just part of the process. I am amazed that it has been a year and humbled by the audience that I have been privileged to build.

And on such an important anniversary, I wanted to give the blog a new look that seemed more fitting to what it has become. There are many aspects of the design that I find symbolic and intriguing, but I will let each of you see what you like in it without telling you what to think. I am so excited to share this design with you and hear what everyone’s thoughts!

The Library

Stepping into a library is like stepping back in time. There is a strange and strong sense that this whole system is arcane and unnecessary in today’s high-tech information age. And yet there is something sweet, innocent, almost magical about walking through those doors and being greeted by the sight and smell of rows upon rows of old, dewey-decimaled books. One almost expects to turn a corner and be greeted by “The Pagemaster” himself.

I was always in love with the library as a child – where countless volumes of stories and pictures and even films were available for anyone to borrow and return on the honor system! The only cost of taking armloads home with you was the responsibility to bring them back on time. But even this was negotiable. If you didn’t really want to return your new treasure just yet, you could call and let them know you’d like to keep it a little longer. No problem. Being given a library card was like being given the keys to a whole new world of possibility. One full of unknowns and mystery and knowledge.

But somehow, as I grew up and the world grew around me, I forgot. I left college, started work, started a family, got a smart phone with access to ALL information ALL the time . . . and I forgot. I had not stepped through the doors of a library in over 7 years! Until . . .

I rediscovered the unquenchable thirst of a child who LOVES to read. My son, who turns three next week, cannot possibly get his hands on enough stories and would sit and be read to all day if the adults in his life would just cooperate! I’m not sure how I made it 3 years before finally taking him to this magical place of my youth, but when I finally did, I saw the same wonder and fire in his eyes that used to exist in mine. Perhaps he’s reignited it. As I watched him run from one shelf to the next and excitedly uncover stories both familiar and foreign, fiction and non, and immediately plop down on the floor where he found them and ask, “Will you read dis to me?” I couldn’t help but be inspired.

And, as the rain flooded the world outside, my little boy and I sat on the floor of the library and traveled to far off places, experienced different times, and believed the impossible. 16 books and 2 hours later, we walked out with a brand new key to this kingdom of books and a deep knowledge that it would not be so long before I came back the next time. With my son’s new-found passion, and mine rediscovered, I knew . . . information age or not, there’s nothing that can replace good, old-fashioned books or the house that holds them sacred and keeps them safe.