Here we are, our first Mindfulness Monday for the month of August. Last week, while most people prepared for another school year, Michael and I celebrated a milestone. Yep, its true. This month, thirty-one years ago, Michael and I began our married life together. Wow! What an incredible adventure!.

Leaning cake sam jerry anniversary celebration

Mindfulness is about being both present and reflective…

Today’s Mindfulness Moment is about reflection and looking ahead. Okay, it’s really about me and Michael. Let’s dig in.

When Michael and I got married, at eighteen and almost twenty years old, with a six month old child, it was hard to find many people who believed we would make it. We wanted to make it. We hoped we’d make it. But to say we actually believed we would?  I’m not so sure. 

For this reason, and let’s be real for many other reasons too, I look forward to celebrating our anniversary. Acknowledging each other’s accomplishments and not taking one another for granted is an excellent gift to give another person. Mindfulness, just like celebrating, takes focus and effort.

thirtieth anniversary Sam Jerry Anniversary celebration
before and after

Whether participating in a marriage, partnership or companionship, and we don’t have to label, in any relationship really, one must be committed. Celebrating our anniversary is our moment to celebrate our commitment to each other. It is also a great time to look back and reflect, regroup, redirect and rededicate our lives. Marriage can be a difficult entity to maneuver. It is both an individual journey and a group journey.  While growing and traveling through life as an individual, one must also remember, in a relationship, one’s actions impact another person. I’m telling you, there’s something to this mindfulness thing. (wink)

When we married in 1988, our wedding night consisted of him shining his boots and packing his rucksack. A few weeks before the wedding, Michael’s Reserve unit, received orders for a weekend of maneuvers. The maneuvers were scheduled for the same weekend as the wedding. There would be no “honeymoon.”

Let’s be honest, receiving orders wasn’t the only reason for no honeymoon. There was also the fact that we had a six month old child, a house payment, a car payment, utilities, blah, blah, blah.     

Dream anyway

Dreaming ahead to our first anniversary road trip seemed far away and out of reach, but we began making plans. We lived in south Arkansas at the time, so, Eureka Springs, in Northwest Arkansas, seemed like the most exotic road trip destination our big dreaming minds could fathom.

Map showing route from El Dorado, Ar. to Eureka Springs, Ar.

While walking the steep streets of Eureka Springs, we talked about how cool it would be, to one day live, in the area. Fun Fact: In the late 1800’s Eureka Springs was called “Little Switzerland”, look it up. Seven glorious years into our marriage we were able to move the six and a half hours north to Fayetteville, AR. The now, forty-five minute drive to Eureka is a great “day road trip.”

Relationships are a lot like road trips

We love celebrating our anniversary with a road trip. We’ve had great adventures over the years. Colorado, California, Oregon, Washington, Nashville, Chicago, Memphis and Kansas City have all been checked off our anniversary road trip map.

Relationships definitely parallel road trips. Over the years, we’ve taken wrong exits and wrong turns. We’ve gotten lost and we’ve hit so many damn dead ends. On purpose, we’ve driven the wrong way on a one way street, to get back on track. Running out of gas on a trip is an inconvenience, but in marriage, it’s a cry for help. Oh the moments of road rage….. When his agenda takes us one way and mine takes us another, and we end up going in circles? Oh, the moments of road rage…..

Oooof and don’t get me started on him not wanting to ask for directions.

Sometimes we pack a cooler, with our own food, because we want to spend our extra money on other things besides food. Other times, we under budget and overspend.

But the sights and adventures those wrong turns have afforded us are the priceless moments. 

In traveling and in our marriage, we’ve learned to recognize, often we have the same destination in mind, but we see different routes for getting us there. 

Sometimes at Michael’s suggestion, we take the straight, practical path. And, sometimes, we take the spontaneous, “let’s see where this road takes us!” path. Each route has its benefits. I’ve learned to appreciate the efficiency a straight shot to our destination provides. And Michael has learned, side road adventures and detours, offer an element of anticipation and excitement.

anniversary roadtrip colorado sam jerry
anniversary road-trip Colorado
anniversary road trip Winslow sam jerry
Because of a side adventure, I got to stand on a corner in Winslow, AZ…

The formula is easy, but the work is hard

The key to all of it is compromise and communication. Being able to give a little makes it easier down the road when you have to take a little. If we are constantly updating one another on ETA, upcoming exciting side adventures and best route options then it is less likely we will get lost or overwhelmed. 

We didn’t travel this year. Instead, we hosted a get together in our home. The guests were a few couples who we support and cheer on while they navigate their life adventures.  It was nice to be surrounded by friends while we celebrated thirty-one years. 

Even though we took this year off from traveling, don’t think I haven’t had the old Atlas out, scouting our next adventure. 

What is your absolute must celebrate milestone? How do you acknowledge it and celebrate it?

be you, be beautiful, be imperfect.

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