Last Monday, I spent a few hours with some of the strongest and most courageous people I have ever met. At Making Things Happen in Atlanta, with the support and guidance of Lara Casey and Jeff Holt, I was part of an intimate group of inspirational men and women who opened my eyes and my heart to a world of bare bones, to the core, wake up your spirit, truth and honesty. We laughed, we cried, we talked and listened. We lifted each other up. We admitted our fears and failures. We owned our mistakes, and set a path to correcting them and moving forward. We talked about authenticity and transparency in telling our stories. We felt the fear and did it anyway.
Most of my focus in Atlanta surrounded my journey with Paper Presence: where I started, what I’ve become, and where I’d like to go. But in those moments of contemplative thought, when we were asked to really reflect on our lives and goals, I found myself thinking of my husband and all that he has been, and continues to be, for me. He is my rock. He supports me 110% and believes in me to his core. He is my emergency ribbon cutter, bow-tier and paper trimmer. He is my heart, and I am in love with him.
So, in the spirit of both Making Things Happen and Valentine’s Day, I’d like to share with you our story. Yes, it’s true, we did meet at a trash can, but I swear, it wasn’t as disgusting as it sounds.
First of all, John and I usually don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day. At least not on the 14th of February. We are fortunate enough to know the exact day, and pretty close to the exact time, that we met; so we celebrate that day – February 8th. We were both attending the Jimmy Buffett and Coral Reefers Band concert on February 8, 2003. John was with a group of his friends who had all purchased nose-bleed seats. My date that night was my sister-in-law and we had mid-level seats. We were running late after spending too much time tailgating, and on our way into the concert my sis-in-law wanted some cheese fries from the Outback concession stand. I warned her; cheese fries are only delicious when enjoyed at Outback. Sure enough, she took one bite and wanted to toss the rest into the closest trash can. John was at this same trash can throwing away his pizza (after heading down from his nose-bleed seats hoping to find one closer to the stage). As fate would have it, the two of them started a conversation. I wasn’t all that interested at first, considering Jimmy Buffett was already on stage waiting for me. (He was, trust me). But, the three of us actually hit it off and had an incredibly fun time standing at a filthy trash can. After ten minutes or so, we decided to get some fresh air and a drink at the outside patio/bar area. We never made it back into the concert, and I never saw Jimmy Buffett that night.
It took John two weeks to finally convince me to go on a date with him. I canceled several dates, and actually told him I wasn’t interested. The night we met, and for several days after, I assumed he was just another guy trying to pick up another girl. After our first official date, I knew better. He was the most genuine person I had ever met, and I wanted to be around him every second of every day. After dating for a little over a year, I sold my house, packed up my Shar-pei, Mr. Wrinkles, and moved across the bay to be closer to him. About a year and a half later, he proposed. We were married on October 14, 2006 surrounded by our family and friends, and our life has been a whirlwind ever since.
We’ve grown so much since then: we added a Boston Terrier, Malcolm, to our family, bought a house, joined our neighborhood association, started Paper Presence, John became president of our neighborhood association, we added a Miniature Doberman, Nugget…whew. The list goes on. But, through it all, we stay solid. We go through our ups and downs like everyone else. We have those days when we feel like we can’t take another moment: the dogs have eaten the pillows, the package of paper arrived soaking wet (love Florida rain), and we forgot to pay the cable bill. But, we make it happen. We remember where we started, reflect on where we are, and remind ourselves of where we want to go. We surround ourselves with people who lift us up, who believe in us, and who love us as much as we love them.
So, on this Valentine’s Day, and on the heels of one amazing Monday in Atlanta, I want to say “I love you” to my husband, and to all of our friends and family who believe in us and support us. We could not be who we are today without each of you. Thank you for being you and for loving us.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
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