Celebrating 30 Years of Pure Love!

Friendship. Dating. Relationships. Marriage. Their depth and meaning seem unrelated to when I met my husband 36 years ago.

Cell phones, smartphones, social media, dating websites, and the internet–they did not exist nor did they complicate or interfere in relationships.  Lives were more private.  Sharing too much (or any) personal information was taboo.   You only knew what others told you.  It was up to you to believe the story.

Weddings were less constructive but still intimate.  Today the process, even leading up to the big day is a professional production that costs thousands of dollars. The average cost of a wedding has skyrocketed.

To be honest with you, I often wonder who is the production for?  Is it for bragging rights and to galvanize wedding guests? Is the goal to outdo other couples?

The more important question I ask is, are the bride and groom willing to commit to the grit and tenacity needed to sustain a long-term relationship? Further discussions for the bride and groom are:

  1. What do you know about your partner/bride/groom’s family history? Have you met their family?  Do family values align? Do you like your partner’s family?
  2. What are your values? You must know know values before you can question his/hers.
  3. Do you want children?  Does your mate want children? If so, how many?
  4. Do you agree on the choice to have or not to have children and if not, are you willing to accept it?  Can you both accept opposing views on children? Note: You can’t change him/her!
  5. If you chose to have children, will they attend private school, public school, boarding school, or will the child(ren) be homeschooled?
  6. How will the children be disciplined?
  7. What do you believe about religion?
  8. Is your partner an atheist or agnostic? Do they believe in God, Allah, Buddha, or another higher power? How will the kids be raised?
  9. Where will you live? Close to family or away? City or suburbs?
  10. Will both of you work?  Who earns more money? Does it matter who’s salary is greater?
  11. Is one person’s career more important than the other?
  12. Is anyone bring debt to the relationship?  Who and how much?
  13. . Do you know your credit score? How about your son-to-be’s score?
  14. Do they have a child or children from a previous relationship?
  15. Child support?  Alimony? How much?
  16. What do you know about their health? Are there family health issues that you should know about?
  17. What are their personal and professional goals?
  18. What motivates them? What motives you?
  19. Did previous relationships/marriage fail? Why? Cheating? Adultery?
  20. What do you know about yourself and your personality type? Are you an introvert or extrovert? What about your partner?
  21. What does forgiveness mean to you?
  22. What do sex and intimacy mean to you? What does sex mean to your partner?  Do you like it? Does your partner like it? What are their sexual expectations? Do they align with yours? As my cousin says, “All sex ain’t good sex!”
  23. What are your attitudes toward money?
  24. Who will cook, clean, grocery shop, and handle finances?
  25. Will you have separate or joint bank accounts?

I have known many marriages to end over some of the above issues.

My husband and I met at ages 17 & 19.  We talked about many topics on the list but not everything and struggled with other issues.

Thanks to God, luck, maturity, and a handful smart folks around us, today we celebrate 30 years of marriage. The years were good. On a few occasions, I felt like we were drifting apart; however, before we stayed too far, we got back on track. When your mate is oblivious to trouble in paradise, you gotta let them know and visa verse.

Situations that sent me into a tirade years ago I now laugh at. No longer do I sweat the dumb shit. I’ve learned to say fuck it and move on and without the attitude.  I see my husband for whom he is not whom I want him to be.  I’ve accepted the good, bad, ugly, and the wonderful and the same for him.

Due to a health scare, nearly two weeks ago, I thought I was going to lose him forever. Our relationship passed before my eyes. Loss of our friendship and the thought of not making love to him one last time freaked me out. I had to remind myself to breathe and to think.

If have been married for any length of time, you know that marriage is a full-time job. Please feel free to comment and fill in the cracks where I missed.

If you are a newbie to the game, you might want to save this post and reread it and again and assess where you are in your marriage. If you are in a relationship and are pondering marriage, print out the list of questions and begin your work.

I can endlessly talk and write about marriage and relationships. My chatter about marriage is not to boast, because some marriages survive 30 years but demise before or after 40. You’re never safe in the marriage game. My ramblings are to help others.

Marriages are rarely given the chance. Couples give up on their marriages too soon and in some cases they give up because they never really knew the other. The fakeness of the honeymoon stage have couples trippin’ over stuff that ain’t real. In other cases, the signs are present in the person, but the partner either sees the behavior as cute or something they think they can change. Nope! The marriage takes place and ish begins to jump off.

We celebrate our 30 years by relaxing on the beach. We both enjoy the beach and never bought into what you’re “supposed” to do on specific anniversary date. We think of today and our four-day getaway as wellness days for our marriage.

Today I also give thanks to God for bringing us through teen-hood to full-fledge adulthood. Our friendship spans 36-years and for that I am grateful.

Happy Anniversary to us! 🙂

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Thanksgiving Day: From The Inside Out

“Something wonderful begins to happen with the simple realization that life, like an automobile, is driven from the inside out, not the other way around. As you focus more on becoming more peaceful with where you are, rather than focusing on where you would rather be, you begin to find peace right now, in the present. Then, as you move around, try new things, and meet new people, you carry that sense of inner peace with you. It’s absolutely true that, “Wherever you go, there you are.” 

-Richard Carlson

To prepare for this year’s Thanksgiving dinner, I decided to…

Stop trying to make everything perfect!!

Hubby and I have been hosting holiday dinners for over 20 years.  I use to stress and beat myself up over making sure that every little detail was perfect.

Crisp table linen, a visually pleasing spread of desserts, a spotless home, plenty of food, a beautifully set dining table, and then some.

Although I’ve always adored decorating my home for each occasion, cooking ridiculous amounts of food, and having the over-night house guests, sometimes I stressed and fussed over details that no one even noticed… stuff that didn’t matter.  So I did what I could and focused on what mattered most; the meal.

From the time I got up on Thanksgiving Day, I reminded myself to stay present. To be aware of every moment…  my invigorating morning shower… the warm water clashing on my back…. the scent of lavender…Mmm.. a reflection of the sun and the odd-shaped shadow on the bathroom wall.

Being mindful and present supports a lifestyle of wellness. When we exert energy anticipating possibilities that we cannot control, we miss out on the daily pleasures of interacting with people around us. Our loved ones smile, kind gestures, affection, or a call for help.

Routinely focusing on the present takes practice and mental muscle. The more we practice, the better we become at it.  One way to focus is to try to concentrate and engage one or more of your five senses:

  1. What do you smell?
  2. What can you taste?
  3. What do you hear? What kinds of sounds (i.e., leaves crackling under your feet, the sound of running water, a child’s laughter, the distant echoing of an ambulance siren, or in silence the sound of your breath).
  4. What do you see?  Notice the details of colors, shapes, the sky, or a person’s eyes.
  5. What can you feel?  Textures that are hot, cold, soft, hard, etc..

Being comfortable with doing my best, accepting my best and staying current allowed me to make the most of my day with my family. I think I listened more than usual and captured more intimate moments throughout the day.

Our home was packed! Bodies were everywhere.  I concerned myself less with crumbs on the floors and coasters on the table and more on getting to know my little cousins and catching up with the adults I haven’t seen in years.  The noise from the 11 kids running through the house shooting nerf guns, screaming and laughing personified quality family time. I laughed all day.

Vegan Challenge Update

This was my first Vegan Thanksgiving.  Except for four family members, everyone came from at least four or more hours away.  Which meant I did most of the cooking.

The day was undoubtedly a mental test for me. Was I ready to bypass the 5 pounds of baked mac & cheese and the two deep fried turkeys?  My plan to cook additional vegetables for myself and five other Vegans worked well. My two favorite veggies were prepared by my cousin’s husband; roasted brussels sprouts with sweet onions and olive oil and roasted cauliflower and carrots with olive oil, Vidalia onions, and turmeric!!

In addition to the above tasty vegetables, Thanksgiving dinner included, two-deep fried turkeys, honey-ham, baked chicken, broiled salmon, shrimp cocktail, kale/collards with smoked turkey, vegan kale/collards, hot stuffing, mild stuffing, potato salad, baked mac & cheese, black-eyed peas, roasted butternut squash, spaghetti squash, traditional candied sweet potatoes, roasted sweet potatoes (with cinnamon & nutmeg only) , and plain white sweet potatoes with coconut oil.   The list of desserts is too long, but there were plenty.

Here’s my plate!!  Everyone was surprised that I did not cave into the mac & cheese, but I was cool with not eating it and consciously enjoyed every bite of the food on my plate.  It really is amazing what we can do when we set our mind to something.

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It has been over one month since I started my Vegan challenge.  My major hiccup occurred last Saturday on a quick visit to Jersey.  We ate at a fantastic seafood restaurant, Doc’s Oyster House in Atlantic City.  Majority of the menu options is seafood.  The offerings for a salad were of little interest to me… probably because I was beyond starving and I’ve eaten at Doc’s before.  This would probably be the last time I visit this restaurant in a long time, so I ordered the special, which scallops.  The servings are large portions, and I could only eat half my dish.  I took the other half home, and my girlfriend ended up eating it. Although the food was delicious, the entire time, I kept thinking, “I’m eating seafood.”

I did, however, learn a valuable lesson.  Before dining out at specialty restaurants, I should carefully read the menu online and make my selection beforehand.  While writing this post, I went to their website and re-read the menu.  I saw options that I missed when I was in the restaurant.  I don’t know if I missed the items because of the ambiance and the dimmed light or because I got caught up in the moment or I just wasn’t paying attention.  Either case, I know that mistakes happen and I learned from the error so, all is good.

Below are some photos with brief captions from Thanksgiving Day.

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Quiche… pre-Thanksgiving Breakfast from the best bakery,  Sweet Brown Suga!

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These two beauties are my cousins.  They are also Vegan.

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Thanksgiving morning… help from my cousin in the kitchen.

Aunt Miriam & Aunt Clara

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Breakfast and school work.

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Even my little cousins enjoy a variety of fruit.

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An early text from another cousin.  He deep fried two 15 pound turkeys.

Holiday punch in the making…  designated bartender.

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Thank God for relatives who like to cook. She was a big help.

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Every woman can appreciate a man who can cook (healthy) in the kitchen.

Seconds, please!!

Loc inspiration from my favorite cuz! He’s also the Deep Fried Turkey expert.

The buffet line.

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Dining room. Photographer:  Ess.n.cee

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Dining room Photographer:  Ess.n.cee

Punch without the punch (alcohol). Photographer:  Ess.n.cee

Cousins!!  Some met for the first time.

Trying to get everyone to pose was a bit challenging.

This munchkin  Loved my mom’s doll baby and wasn’t trying to give her back.  

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Runway ready!

One of many attempts to get a good pic!  Lol!

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Seriously focused!

LOVE!

Two car fanatics!

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Love, Love, Love!  My daughter and our 84-year-old aunt haven’t seen each other in over 15 years!

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My nephew, his son, and auntie!

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Delivery of the ham and two turkeys in style!

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A toast to family, friendship, and a splendid day!

I hope that you found gratitude in your Thanksgiving Day!

Smooches!


Happily Hitched For 27 Years!

Twenty-seven years ago, the statistics were stacked against our marital endeavors.  In fact, according to a 1988 report, the year we married,

43% of marriages [will] end in divorce.

Well guess what baby? We. Are. Still. Married.   Barring any dumb ass mid-life crises on either of our parts and God’s will and grace, we are on track to celebrate the BIG 30! I guess we blew the statisticians’ numbers out the window. :0) Heeeeey!

I feel like someone held down the fast forward button in our life as the years have passed seemingly quickly.

Although both of our parents had “successful” marriages that lived up to the vow of “..till death do us part; however, my parents’ marriage was far from what any marriage counselor would identify as functional.  I have no doubts they loved each other dearly, but damn it, they had a funky way of showing it. Oh, the memories! Lol!

After five years of good friendship, we married. In total we’ve been buddies for 32 years and still do mostly everything together.

At 23 years old, I tenderly recited traditional wedding vows, excluding the “obey” part, but I had no idea of what it meant.

Tanya, will you have this man to be your lawful wedded husband, to live together after God s ordinance in the Holy Estate of Matrimony? Will you love him, comfort him, honor and keep him in sickness and in health; and, forsaking all others keep you only unto him as long as you both shall live?
I Tanya take thee, James to be my wedded husband, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish forever, according to God s Holy Ordinance, and thereto I give thee my pledge.

Two kids later, the death of parents, several careers for me, selling and buying homes, few lows and many highs, I understand the full scope of our vows.

If you’re lucky, with age comes wisdom and I’ve learned many lessons. The last two anniversaries, I shared 25 & 26 lessons I learned from marriage. They’re well worth the read, check them out below:

Celebrating 26 Years of Marital Lessons


25 Years Going Strong

Like any relationship, marriage has its ups and downs. Thank God we’ve shared more ups than downs.

Does he get on my damn nerves sometimes? Yup! Do I get oh his nerves sometimes? Heck yeah!

When you get down to the nitty-gritty, it is the basic principles that make a marriage work.

We fight (though rarely) clean… NEVER do we engage in name calling… always in private… never in front of anyone, including our children.  Respect is at the top of the list… we give it so we can receive it.

Would I marry Big Daddy again?  Absolutely!!! Lol! :0)  Here are 27 reasons why I’d marry hubby again:

  1. He loves me for who I am
  2. He is kind
  3. He gets along well with my mom (better than me)
  4. He doesn’t anger easily
  5. His sense of humor
  6. He dances with me, even when he doesn’t feel like it :0)
  7. He dances with me but HATES dancing
  8. He smiles a lot (like me)
  9. He is a great father
  10. He spoils our kids
  11. He spoils me
  12. He LOVES his career
  13. Makes a good bed
  14. He cleans a house well
  15. He supported me through school
  16. He encourages me
  17. He respects me
  18. He respects women
  19. He is ALWAYS there for me
  20. I can ALWAYS count on him
  21. He is consistent
  22. He treated his mother VERY well
  23. He was a good son (to both parents)
  24. He provides WELL for his family
  25. He is selfless
  26. He embraced my crazy (handful) of friends
  27. He is forgiving

Happy 27th Anniversary Sweets!! 

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Not Ashamed To Admit This

Happy Friday!

I woke up at 6:30 a.m. yesterday with firm plans to do legs in the morning. Hubby had different plans. He wanted to take me to breakfast.  Dilemma!

This is a perfect example of the silly balancing act that many moms deal with.  My heart spits the decision 50/50.  My brain says, “Girrrrl, take your butt to the gym and get your workout on!”

With 26 years of marriage under my belt, I know good and well the importance of spending quality time with my man. The idea sounds noble and simple, but it takes real effort to make it happen.

We are just busy behind folks!  Mom lives with us, our son plays several sports, we both work, I’m always racing off to the gym, or blogging…  add sleep and meals to the mix and, well… damn!  Lol!

I dressed for the gym, wore flip-flops but tossed my sneaks in the back seat and took hubby up on his offer to breakfast. We dropped B’Dazzle off to camp and drove to Kelsey and Kim’s on Melrose Avenue in AC.

My breakfast was the bomb!! I ordered a four egg (2 whites) vegetable omelet with jalapeño peppers. Salmon cakes were not available, so I surprised the waiter and chef with a request for six jumbo shrimp sautéed with fresh spinach and crushed red peppers. Lol! If you think it sounds mouth-watering, you should have tasted it.

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Outstanding!  By the way, this dish and time spent with hubby yesterday made me incredibly happy! #100HappyDays Day #3

The chef came out to ask me if the meal was hot enough. I think he wanted to see who the chick was eating all this food at 9 O’clock in the morning.

After breakfast, I suggested we walk on the boards. I did not realize though, that Hurricane Sandy destroyed the section of the boardwalk I intended to walk.

We ended up walking along the Caspian Avenue Beach, which was wonderful!  Shame on me for living in the area all of my life and not knowing the Caspian Avenue beach existed. Seriously, I’m embarrassed.

We have a backyard pool, so I usually spend my time there. And the other thing is, when I do a beach day, I want to chill without running into too many students (I work at the high school) or other folks I know in the city.

I might sound snobby, but we’ve lived in the area all of our life. Rarely can we go anywhere, and I mean, anywhere without running into somebody. Ugh!  Look, we’re very social people, but sometimes, I need to blend into the background and be unknown.

Only a week remains before the school year begins, but I hope to spend a least one day out there before the season ends.

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That’s the City of Brigantine that you see across the water.

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To the right of the rocks are the remains of pilings leftover from Hurricane Sandy. Only this section of the boardwalk was destroyed.

caspian3I just had to take a picture of the broken and dangling wooden piling. Tho it’s broken, it still kind of cool looking. The setting is pretty (to me).

After strolling on this beach, we drove further into the city and walked the boardwalk. I didn’t calculate, but we had to walk a good two miles.

Did I make it to the gym?  No. But later in the day, I did do walking lunges to meet our son and his tutor on the campus of a local college.  That counts right?  Lol!

This morning, I’m headed to the gym.

Have a fabulous and happy day! 🙂


What Really Matters In Relationships

Marital Lesson #2

I learned that no matter how “I preferred” he do things, hubby is entitled and will do things the way he chooses to.

Being brutally honest with yourself about your good, your bad, and your ugly personality traits will promote inner growth and will help to foster healthier relationships. Umpteen years ago, I was unaware that I was cursed with the classic “Type A” personality.

Rigidly organized, highly status-conscious, impatient, proactive, wanting other people to get to the point and obsessed with time management.  A classic  high achieving workaholic, multi-tasking nut who hated delays and ambivalence

I always knew (felt)  that there was a “correct” and “more “efficient” way to do everything.  Sheets and towels “should” be folded neatly and stacked orderly in the linen closet. If they are folded the “right” way, more can fit in the closet.  Besides they look pretty like they door in the store when they’re folded my way “correctly.”

This way of thinking carried into everything I did and I mean everything.  Crazy right!!  Poor hubby.  Since his momma didn’t show him the proper what to do everything, it was my responsibility to school him on life101

Fortunately, I don’t recall ever telling him that his momma taught him wrong and mine taught me right.  I may have thought it, but don’t think I said it.  Nut case right!!  I know. Lol!

Starting out I just went about correcting and showing him how to do everything.  Eventually that mess got old and the calm, reserved loving man of mine, would occasionally go off.   Lol!  Back then, the immature little fire cracker that I was, defended my ground and was ready to go a few rounds in the ring at the drop of a hat. OMG!  I was stupid!  For real.

Most often though, hubby would just look at me with a blank expression.  What I didn’t know then was he thoughts…

Girlfriend, I don’t wanna hear that ish!  Blah..blah… Shut up!  I’m gonna do what I wanna do, when I choose to do it, and how I wanna do it.  I don’t care what you say!

After my “instructions” or ranting, he’d go about doing whatever, the way he decided was best.  At 21, that would trip me out and mess with my head.  My blood pressure should have been high back then.

Oh and let’s not talk about time management.  That also would put me in a tizzy.  He was and still is all laid bad and chill about getting anywhere, except for a fire.  Weddings, funerals, parties, and just about anyplace we arrived late.  All the way to the function my bone head would be swaying with attitude.  Why?  Because we were late and the world was going to stop evolving.  Ha!!

With all the uptightness, for sure I was headed to an early grave.

I observed others outside our marriage handle things differently.  When I complained to my girlfriends, they told me that they didn’t “trip” over the small stuff because it wasn’t worth it and, a man is gonna do what he wants to do… period.

I wasn’t his momma and had no right telling him what, when, and how to do anything. A few “Ah-Ha” moments snapped me to reality and eventually I leaned to cope.

While many of the Type A personality characteristics are very much embedded in me, I’ve learned better coping skills and my perspective on life has greatly changed.

I don’t think we can change personality, but I am convinced that being aware of attitude can lead to behavior modification.

I saw the need to change.  Once that occurred, I began this slow process of responding differently.  It hasn’t been easy.  Occasionally, the impulse to “correct” hits me but my response is very different.

I ask myself,

Does it really matter how he washes the dishes, folds, the towels, or hangs his clothes in his closet?

The answer is heck no!!  That’s dumb crap!  He’s a grown ass man.  Ladies! Weren’t born to control men; that’s ridiculous.  Some of it is learned behavior but, if willing, can be unlearned.

Often couples argue over pointless stuff.

What really matters is that the love, mutual respect, and commitment is present in every day, hour, and minute of the marriage.

Have a fabulous day!

 

 

 

 


Think Before You Speak

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Last week we celebrated our 26th wedding anniversary. Considering how young we were when we married, it is an amazing milestone. A follower of this blog suggested I expand on the lessons learned.  So in addition to my regular posts, I will further elaborate on each lesson.

The goal is not to exploit our personal experiences but instead to prevent others from making the same mistakes. Dr. Maya Angelo said it best, “When you get, give. When you learn, teach.”

“I learned that speaking my raw opinion, without considering hubby’s feelings was inconsiderate and to think before I speak.”

As a child I carefully observed the adults around me give tongue lashings (deserving or not) to one another. Only the children were expected to bite their tongue.

Occasionally I tried to express my opinion but mom wasn’t having any of that nonsense. A quick backhand to the lips stifled further opinions from exiting my mouth. Adulthood and freedom of speech wouldn’t come soon enough.

At 17, hubby and I hooked up. From the outside looking in, I appeared to be a thin, innocent and harmless girl, but cross me in smallest way and I exploded like a match to gasoline. Boom! 🔥

We rarely argued, but I remember our first one well. I just didn’t know when to shut up. He was upset with me for offering the use of his new engine red Toyota 4 x 4 pick up.

Instead of letting the conversation end as he did, I continued to push the envelope and pointlessly rant and rave about how I felt. The world revolved around me (so I thought) and that’s all that mattered.

My rant and rave led to a physical altercation. No, he’s too much of a man to hit me. He slightly pushed me and I ridiculously went off. Swinging and punching, calling him and his family outrageous names and threatening bodily harm. Absolutely out of control and for no valid reason.

His feelings were hurt and I was too self-absorbed to recognize that I hurt his feelings. Today we laugh about the incident and several others where my mouth escalated situations unnecessarily.

Words can cut deeper than a knife. In some cases, they leave permanent scars. Apologizing doesn’t always take the pain away.

My displaced anger and a lack of self-control was damaging.

When you have something to say to your significant other, especially when you’re angry, stop. Breath. I mean really take a deep breath and slowly let it out of your mouth.

Then ask yourself, if you really mean what you are about to say and how you would feel if your partner mouthed your words to you. You probably wouldn’t like it, so don’t go there. Sometimes it is best to say absolutely nothing that than to mouth words you’ll later regret.

Sweet dreams!