Every time! Every time I am surprised: the first fat, proud, noisy robin; the first warm sunny day with a blueberry sky and no clouds; a strong, still cold, damp breeze; and the colors. What magnificent colors: blue, yellow, pink, lilac, to say nothing of green becoming green again. Every single time, Nature does an astounding job and my heart leaps with joy. I smile, laugh out loud, and want to celebrate. SPRING!
Can life get any better than the first spring picnic? Ours was baked chicken, pasta salad with feta cheese and black olives, fresh cut raw vegetables and dip, and wonderfully cold white wine. Man. All this and heaven too, as my cousin Gail would say.
Even Aimee (the most adorable puppy on the plant) can feel it. She has wings on her feet as she flies through the air at the cemetery with her best friend Ginger. They take turns leading the race. Through the woods, around trees, over tomb stones, up and down cliffs. I have no idea how they keep from bumping into something. There certainly is plenty to bump into! When they get tired they play mouth and wrestle. Then they sleep.
Watching Aimee and Ginger share the joy and freedom of 34 acres of hills and fields, surrounding us in a gentle ancient spiritual energy helps me find my contemplative self. The names and dates on the stones honor souls who long ago and more recently, shared this planet with me. We breathed the same air, walked the same hills, felt the same sun, and shared similar dreams. As a relationship therapist, I think about them and make up stories.
I see engraving on a stone that tells me this was someone’s 16 year old son and brother and friend and he died in World War I. I see the stone of a 3 month old baby girl. And there are many that celebrate several generations with one solid beautifully sculpted stone with names, ages, and how they were related to each other etched into the monument.
One story I tell myself is that couples hundreds of years ago had to work hard to feed, dress, and shelter themselves and their families, leaving them with very little time to share intimately about what was going on in their heart and mind. Not so different from today, is it? Families today tend to have 2 adults going off to work each day, 2, 3 or more children needing to get to lessons and sports after school, in addition to all of the appointments, meetings, and errands necessary just to keep life going.
That does not leave much time for sharing intimately. It is life giving and relationship nourishing for you to make time to connect and to mindfully fill the sacred space between the two of you with positive feelings and intention. It has always been exceedingly important for couples to have moments of emotional and spiritual connection. But I think only in the last few decades have we come to realize how truly critical to the health and well-being of every relationship that wants to prosper and thrive it is to intentionally create time together for deepening the commitment and remembering to love and trust, as well as remembering to laugh and play.
I have a very short exercise I encourage you to use the same time each day. Make it as routine as brushing your teeth. Good health care means taking a shower, brushing your hair, taking vitamins, and exercising. It also means being intentional about staying in positive loving connection with your partner. You will be far more physically healthy when you are emotionally healthy at your foundation.
This is an exercise designed to be mindful and intentional about noticing your partner and the positive things they say or do. So often we focus on what our partner forgot to do or simply didn’t know enough to do. What I want to invite you to include in your everyday routine is to intentionally recognize the positive things that have happened.
Sit facing each other, or stand for that matter, and one person at a time tell your partner something they said or did that day that you appreciate. And follow that appreciation with, “When you did that I felt.” Look into each other’s eyes as you give the appreciation followed by your feeling and as you receive the appreciation and feeling. Let your soul absorb what you are being told. Let your heart feel cared for and let your Self feel seen and noticed. Just breathe in the knowing that your partner liked and noticed what you did. Then gently repeat what you heard your partner share with you. Stay emotionally connected for a brief while as you both recognize the gift of being seen.
Now switch. It is important that both of you have a turn to give and both of you have the opportunity to receive. It really is almost magic. It feels great to be noticed for what you have done. Even the little everyday things matter a lot. And it feels really wonderful to open your eyes and your heart and let your loved one know you heard them and saw them.
This is an important exercise to remember to do every day. In the gloomy, rainy, cold, blustery, cloudy days of winter as well as the glorious days of spring or hot summer moments when we don’t want to think of anything but working in the garden or going to the beach. Remember what is good in life, what is good in the relationship, what deserves to be highlighted and spoken about that gives both of you a daily boost as you go off to do your other life. Knowing you are safely and lovingly in the mind of your partner makes the rest of the day go more smoothly. It also helps you realize how much you really do want to go home at night and spend time with each other. Daily relationship maintenance should always be foremost in your mind.
It takes only 3 or 4 minutes every day and those minutes are a valuable investment. You are investing in a healthy loving future for you and for your family.