Written by: Naomi Goodale
Sitting here in the peaceful breeze and comfort of my own backyard. Coffee in hand and the warmth of the sun on my face. Writing up a blog post on my phone as my sweet Sophia, almost a year old already, crawls around in the grass—always on an adventure enjoying the outdoors, like her big sisters, exploring Mother Earth in all her beauty! Smiles, giggles, happy dances here and there. She’s so dang cute! And one very happy mama as she looks over at me again and again with her beautiful gummy-two-tooth-smile. Happy to be hangin’ with mom and high on life! Sigh =)
Enjoying these moments as the other two are at their home daycare/ Montessori and finally able to reflect on the last week and a half in all of its beautiful chaos. Hosting a friend and her baby who flew in from Texas along with other kitten-clan besties every day- lunches, dinners, wine toasts. All the bff- ‘Harper + Sophia’ food/ constant snack parties, if for no other reason than to keep them occupied and happy in their high chairs so the other tasks can get done. Three girls!? What’s one more!? I got this!
Listening and offering advice into the various heartaches taking place in everyone’s lives, and of course the endless laughter with the usual banter and witty jokes flying around left and right. All as our second-generation kittens run around upstairs, downstairs, in the backyard, and on the trampoline, making memories of their own.
Playing mommy, auntie, chef, bartender, tidy-upper, kitchen-cleaner; add to that a few Reiki sessions, two birthday parties -back to back- the same day, and last but not least THIS lovely ‘Flash-forward-SIX-years-later-Happily-Ever-After’ family photo shoot as I was pulling pictures and props off my walls in a hurried rush to get myself and the girls ready. Sophia’s One year (near complete) photo book before her post birthday-party- (end of July when all the family is in town for a week) will officially be complete with these photos and a birthday candle to blow out on the 8th!
I vowed to give all three of my children at least the first three years of their lives in a row, their own photobooks, before all their birthdays and events would switch to one, shared book every year. These photobooks are TIME-CONSUMING, there’s no way I could keep up at the rate I’m going! But so, sooooooo worth it when I’m watching them pull them out of the coffee table drawers on the regular, to flip through the pages of their own ‘histories’ and seeing them get excited all over again. They LOVE these books!
So really, all I was missing this last week was one of those big circus hats, stilts, a red and white-striped suit, and a bunch of streamers on a wand to toss around while bouncing around from point a to b, z and back-to-a with a big old clown-faced smile. ‘The Walking-Woman Circus’!!! Who wants tickets? And planning another bestie’s baby shower this summer in addition to toying with ideas to incorporate into my next painting. And of course, with two trips to Oregon lined up between July and August AND a trip to Texas for my sisters Doctorate Inauguration a couple weeks after that last week of July when they are all here for the week, as well as my amazing mother in law who wouldn’t miss a birthday party for her grandbaby! So excited!!!
Then sliding right into September with my little in the middle -Miss Addy’s- 3rd birthday as well as a night in Vegas for my sister’s 40th. Let’s just say our calendar is jam packed the next few months and it’s still June! But I just love it. I love it all! Even in the still small and quiet moments like these, where the question reverberates in my head, the question I get asked all the time and especially this last week: “How DO you do it?” And the truth is, I don’t know, just do! Always have. Probably always will. It’s as if I’m simply wired to have as much chaos going on at any given time while doing my best not to notice it until I’m reflecting on it later.
I was told once: “You remind me of that Sarah Jessica Parker character in that movie “I don’t know how she does it” to which I laughed out loud. Yes, I did happen to see the movie just couldn’t remember what her answer was as to how ‘she’ does it. If you asked my parents, they’d tell you I was wired with it since my first breath and I guess not much has changed into adulthood. But I’m certainly thankful for all the energy because if I didn’t have so much of it, I know I wouldn’t get even half the projects done that I do on top of ‘sister-friend, wife, and mom-to-3’ And suppose that should be my simple answer: “lots of natural energy, mixed with a strong will and intent.”
And at this stage in the season of life -mother and taxi driver to young ones- the reality is, you really don’t stop! As I’m sure many other mothers reading this would confirm, there’s always something that has to get done and a family relying on you for it. So, unless I’m purposely creating the time to release some serotonin, whether it’s a walk on my treadmill while the kids sleep, followed up with some guided-meditation and my chi machine, a hot shower, or just whipping out my guitar the minute I’m impulsed to do so no matter what is going on, then it just. wouldn’t. happen. I HAVE to create and structure that time into my life.
And I’m wise enough at this point to know that it’s all about the -unapologetic- breaking away into my own space to give myself the love and devotion I need in order to keep going and continue feeling joyful through all the chaos. Yes, even when that means locking myself in my closet to play my guitar for an hour when I have a house full of people. Taking that time to love ‘me’ becomes critical so that I can effectively love others and not turn myself into some sort of martyr while doing it. It’s so important. It’s important that we all do this for ourselves or we’re really no good for anyone else.
And most important of all is taking the time every night, no matter how exhausted I am, to connect with my life-partner/ best friend/ husband/ lover. Once the girls are fed, bathed, and in bed sound asleep, we are practically screaming ‘Hallelujah’ as we get to get back to ‘Us’ again. To enjoy each other’s company if only for a brief snuggle time and taking turns giving each other relaxing back and leg massages. This is a new routine for us which has inadvertently become a MUST-DO at least a couple nights a week before turning in, and especially as a part of our date nights =)
The ‘Us-pre-kids’ blended sweetly into the slightly more tired ‘Us-post-kids’ as simultaneously chaotic AND happily ever after it may be all at once. The ‘Us’ that gets to share the tidbits of stories from the day. The funny and sweet things they’ve said, sung, or done. The hassles and set backs at work for him as well as all his successes, he’s just amazing at what he does! And my creative projects and pep-talks where he encourages me to set timelines and goals for the two children’s books I have all ready to go. It’s the joy of our own little circle of love and encouragement that we plug into, and in the process, fill each other up for the next day ahead. Spending that time together has become critical for both of us.
And I’ll tell ya, it is our sweet little Hannah who inspired this photo shoot! After wanting to watch ‘Mommy + Daddy’s Wedding’ over and over I told her we would do it again (as in -perhaps- four years for our ten-year anniversary) but that we would take pictures this year where they could be dressed up as our flower girls. Of course, she’s still more concerned with the wedding and insists that we invite everyone who she saw in the video to be there again, and, to do all the exact same things we did and wore that day. There is nothing that melts our hearts more than this! Her love for our wedding!
It’s become a fairly regular ‘family movie’ night. And watching them watch us, as we jump into the time capsule together, back to March 19th 2011—David and I have both teared up in unspoken joy and gratitude over it. For all that the years have brought us, three beautiful earth angels, and a rekindled romance since that day. I can remember the month before finding out we were pregnant with Hannah as David and I watched our wedding DVD on our anniversary -our tradition- telling him how special it was going to be the day our children would get to watch it with us and appreciate it as much as we do.
And flash-forward, here we are!
I can say with minimal reservation that our wedding DVD might even trump Moana and THAT’S a big deal in this house! I know that it is because of the love they feel and see between us daily. And it’s in the magic of seeing how their stories began too, feeling like they were just as much a part of that day, and for good reason; they technically had the best seats in the house—in heaven. I couldn’t imagine a crazier, busier life than the one I have, with so many people I love and adore deeply and know the feelings are reciprocated.
And through the midst of any period in life that is full of chaos any given day, week, month(s) on end, that centered-calm I feel is the beauty of a love for this world and everyone in it that is so strong and keeps me going every day. Since I was a little girl, I may have always felt this way. That is, everyone is my family. But from my immediate family—my sexy-sweet husband who I get so giddy over these days, to my children who impress me more and more as they mature, with the expansive love in their own sweet hearts and all their affectionate ways. I can’t help but allow the smile on my face to remain plastered. I feel like the luckiest woman alive!
And we love, love, love, LOVE having girls! Yes, even THREE of them to the man who felt it necessary to shout from a distance to David as he watched us setting up the props for these pictures: “Three girls huh!? You poor thing man! Gotta go for that boy now!” To which I shouted back: “That’s rude, first of all, and let me tell you— we are STOKED on our three girls buddy.” Insert-Smile. Moving on with the shoot.
But it’s the TRUTH! We feel complete, not to mention officially a ‘zero-count’ after his vasectomy follow up, in case your first thought in seeing these pictures was ‘baby announcement’ –and yeah, like it would be a big shocker for us if we were, ha! I’ll still go ahead and say anyway, that ship has sailed! Sure, to be fair I have also always said (especially after our ‘protection-failure’ third BLESSING –not mistake) that nothing would surprise us and if there were any couple that was going to get pregnant even after a vasectomy, it would definitely be us! So, suffice it to say if we ever do in the future, I suppose that would be one serious Divine Child –absolutely meant to walk this earth. Crazier things have happened! But should that day never come, we would still be singing the same happy tune to be a family of five with all girls!
We know that everything we have, we have because we were meant to. And we ultimately believe that the greatest Divine blessings come when we least expect them, no matter how disguised they are in the challenging circumstances surrounding them. Sophia was no piece of pie for the brutal nine months I carried her and first three months of her life needing to wear her 24/7 to keep her happy. Yet she was the most joyful newborn and infant…. and still is! Now, here we are as she is turning into little miss independent and a self-entertained pre-toddler! Everything and everyone on this earth is a blessing. A piece of heaven and therefore a piece of the greater pie!
And I’m also so thankful for all the hardships that our marriage has faced and the commitment to loving one another that has pulled us through some of the most emotional and difficult things to ever enter our marriage. Coming out of it more smitten with one another than we would’ve thought possible with the way things were headed. Realizing the truth in the word ‘ALL’ things working together for our good, especially where two people are willing and wanting it. So, I admit it! I’m a hopeless romantic in love with love! Pure-unadulterated love. The kind that reaches into the deepest parts of ourselves to inspire our souls. To help us remember the ways in which we are ultimately on the same team because we are not separate from one another.
Underneath all guise of physical ‘separation’ lie an energy grid that connects us all to each other and all that is in existence. Every last thought and aspect of what we produce and contribute to that shared field will reach us at some point or another, along the lines of time with the ripple effects produced. Our thoughts, spoken words (amplifying the energy of our thoughts) and actions will always affect one another in the most unanticipated, far-reaching manner. So, as we become more mindful of others we become more mindful of who we really are. That is, we ARE all aspects of each other and we watch the earth around us transcend into Peace.
Through it, we learn how to stop projecting; rather, expressing compassion for our own unique struggles and those of another. We stop feeling the need to judge. Life stops feeling so heavy. The weight of the world lifts up off our shoulders providing a peace and fluidity to all that we do, no matter how busy we may be. The calm in the midst of the storm is always available and felt as we tune in to such mindfulness-practice. And the marriages and relationships that seem broken or headed for destruction are turned around as our perceptions shift into a more broadened and higher view of one another.
And for all these things I am so happy to have David. Someone who I’ve grown up with from an 18-year-old girl to a 33-year-old woman, wife, and mother. I’m thankful for his vows “for better or for worse” to me and for never giving up on the integrity of Love and what it truly entails. I’m so thankful for this resurrection of our marriage in ways neither one of us saw coming while in the thick of those things that were pulling us away from one another. We both learned to take responsibility and change ourselves in the ways we needed to, in order to show each other the truth of our respective commitments to one another’s well-being.
Thinking about him at the most random times makes me tear up in joy. And he does the same with me—though this is a much newer thing for him, and I love it! Who doesn’t!? I think most women would! When their spouse, boyfriend (or girlfriend) begins to take on and reciprocate the same emotional depth and vulnerability— well, talk about fireworks going off in all directions!!!! The heat gets turned up for real (ehem) *male readers* on the chance there are any. As my uncle who married us said very slowly and with emphasis on the husbands taking the initiative: “Husbands, LOVE your wives.”
There are exceptions to the rule, but generally speaking men need respect as much as women need love. When women don’t receive the attention and affection they crave/need on a fundamental level, they lose their respect for their man and it becomes a vicious cycle that plagues even the best of relationships and marriages, no matter how seemingly ‘got it together’ you think the couple is. We are humans, learning how to love and value other humans in the midst of all our assessments or flat out judgments of one another. And we need each other to do that! We need each other to be willing to change, because when two people become willing to put the work in, any marriage or relationship can be turned around.
Just ask the fifty couples in the little book “A Love That Lasts” how they made it through 50 years and counting. What they’d tell you: ‘Mix humor with compassion, tenderness with strength, and enduring affection with some well-timed flirtation.’ Voila! The simple, easy-made recipe for an eternally flourishing love. I know marriage is work but it doesn’t have to feel like ‘hard’ work when we utilize these tips and tools.
Enjoying the silence together as much as the laughter. Being the first to say sorry and even quicker to forgive. Picking our battles wisely. Going the extra mile for peace. Reading books together or sharing a spiritual journey. Seeing the magic in the intangible and believing in all the highest possibilities for our relationships. Knowing that there is no fine print to love and then tailoring our actions and words to speak each other’s unique love language.
Not assuming the “I love yous” but saying them out loud, and often! Keeping our promises and holding integrity and honesty with all we do. Giving each other the room to grow when it’s needed. Forgetting about 50/50 and BEING ONE in our mentality. Date days and nights, add to that more date nights, even if they’re at home after the kids go down. Light the candles and turn on the music, pull out the massage oils, turn up the heat and watch your bedroom sizzle like never before!!!
Open a bottle of wine or a deck of cards, whatever floats your boat and gets you talking or enjoying the silence or sweet simplicity of just being together. It’s all about carving out or structuring regular time into the calendar if we need to, to focus on feeling that sense of connection and unity with our partner in the midst of the chaos of life. With three little ones, we know a thing or two about it these days! And falling even more in love with our spouse than the day we married them equals = all of the above.
The question isn’t whether or not it’s possible, but whether or not we are willing. Having gone through so much and seeing/experiencing the possibilities that we are currently experiencing has led our hearts into an even stronger commitment to one another as well as all those marriages around us. Being advocates for them no matter what that marriage has been through, especially when children are involved. There’s no right/wrong scenario when it comes to marriage or divorce; not when viewing them equally in the light of what we’ve learned, but there are very useful tools for two people who are equally willing to rekindle what may seem lost for themselves and the family as a whole. Yet, it will always take two. And if there’s one thing my husband and I have realized through the last couple years, it’s that anything is possible with the right recipe!
These pictures will go on our stairway wall next to some of our ‘trash the dress’ wedding photos as a constant reminder of where we’ve been, where we’re at, and where we’re headed. Thank you, my dear friend Talia, not only for capturing these beautiful images the way you ALWAYS have over the years; from some of those first weeks into life as newlyweds—to every maternity and family shoot after, but most of all, for your friendship through the years and the inspiration you’ve always provided in opening yourself up to share transparently with me and through the Sister Files. Forever-Forces joined and I value and love you dearly!
And to all who took the time to read this, especially those in the thick of marital issues. I hope it’s comforting to know that we have all been there! We’ve all had our fair share of triumphs and travails and you are never alone! If you’ve felt that way, shamed or embarrassed, I encourage you to seek out guidance and open up the dialogue with your spouse first and foremost –honest, direct, and empathetic communication. Most of all, willing to see things from a perspective you may not have considered. And if need be, seek out the people in your life you feel comfortable turning to for advice, even if it is just one who you know you can rely on without judgement. Don’t be ashamed to bring someone into your struggle who can help. Believe in the highest power working for you and then watch as those intentions—met with faith and discipline—do wonders. And if you can’t think of even one person you feel comfortable speaking to, whether I know you or not, PLEASE feel free to reach out to me on here. As long as I’m alive and breathing, you are not judged and you are not alone!
So, Cheers to all the ‘Happily-Ever-Afters’ out there still fighting for it! Mine, yours, ALL of ours! And even if marriage and children are not part of your current equation, the ultimate marriage is still the one we have with ourselves and it will always be the most important one, so make it the BEST one and then watch as every other relationship in your life follows suit!
So much love, gratitude, and wishes for years to come full of falling in love over and over with our partner in life!!!
Photos by: Talia Cruz