Life is handing me a bit of magic lately. In two weeks, Bob and I will be traveling off to England and Iceland again. Yes, for those of you who’ve followed along, we DID just go to both places last May to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary. It’s really almost miraculous that through some really good fortune, we are getting to go again. I’m thrilled and touched at this opportunity.
Some of you read along as we blogged, posted and photographed our way through England and Iceland last year. It was a great trip and we had a good time, but there were some flies in the ointment. I weighed over 300 lbs and was in a lot of pain every day, my knees, feet and legs so tight and sore that I couldn’t walk very fast. I limped, and we needed to make frequent stops so I could rest. It was very frustrating. And while Bob and I were getting along, it wasn’t any kind of a second honeymoon trip for us. We had our issues that had piled up on us. And while neither of us knew it at the time, we were headed toward September when Bob would request a divorce, followed by many excruciatingly grief-filled months. It’s been a tumultuous, painful, rewarding and transforming time, so this magical trip is very welcome. And I’ve learned a big lesson, too, just by how it came about.
About a month ago, Bob was supposed to have a week of training to earn some certification here in Minneapolis. The day the training was supposed to start, he found out that it had been cancelled, since he’d been the only one to sign up. He called the training company, based in London, to find out where else he could get the training. There were some places in the US he could take it, but it was also offered in London. Well, why not try? The training company said he could take it there, and then Bob went on to ask if they had any apartments they could put him up in. The company said yes, and they agreed to let him stay for free since they’d had to cancel the Minneapolis training. Hmmm… now he had training and a place to stay in London. He only had to convince his workplace to fly him out there. He asked, explaining that they wouldn’t have to pay for his lodging since he already had that covered… and they said yes, throwing in a per diem for food for the week as well. He called me excitedly, saying that we could turn this into a trip to England and Iceland again for the two of us, would only have to pay for my airfare and some of our expenses as we extended the trip into another week, and I could see more of London during the day while he was in training.
Of course I said yes. I could hardly believe that something that sounds so improbable actually came together so easily (well, Bob did do a lot of work to manage it all). And I still get teary-eyed thinking about it—to me, this feels like the Universe is handing us a big Do-Over. After such a hard time, we get to go do this trip again, and now we are in a better place in our relationship, and I am certainly in a better place myself. I’ve lost over 60 lbs since then, I’m not in pain, I can walk and move and fit into things so much more easily, and I feel like I’m more in touch with my authentic self. I get another chance at this, I get another chance at life. And I’m so, so grateful.
The big lesson I’ve learned in watching this all come together comes courtesy of Bob. I grew up learning to be a negative-thinking person. I was taught to look for what will go wrong, to be on guard, to not expect good things to come my way, and to prepare for the worst possible outcome. It’s kind of a survival-mentality, based on fear. But Bob, bless his heart, is definitely a more positive-thinking person most of the time. He’s also good at taking risks. So when the training was canceled, he didn’t just say “damn, that sucks,” like I might’ve. He started looking for a way to make it work. And when he reached for the bigger stars (training in London!), he just kept not being afraid to ask for what he wanted. London? Free apartment? Airfare? He believed it could work, and it turned out, that was enough. Sure he had to also do footwork to make it happen, but the most important thing he did was believe something great and positive could happen. And it did.
I’ve been taking improv classes for a while now (scary but fun!), and one of the basic tenets of improv is to say “yes, and.” When you team up to do improv with others, you’re never supposed to negate any ideas that a partner comes up with—you go along with it and add to it. If someone says, “I’m a pink polka-dot dinosaur,” you wouldn’t say “there are no pink polka-dot dinosaurs.” You’d say, “yes, and you make the best dinosaur-sized chocolate chip cookies!” You build on what is given to you and work with it. It creates a positive relationship and makes the improv work better.
It’s a challenge for me to learn to be more positive– in improv and in life. In the situation of this training (if it had been me) my negativity would have resulted in disappointment, not getting the training, or maybe looking for lesser options. But look where having a positive outlook turned this whole situation around—for Bob and for me. It really has opened up my mind, and it amazes me. How can I apply this to other areas of my life?
With all the transforming I’ve been doing in many areas of my life lately, I think this is one lesson I can really use and start applying. And lucky us, we will get to reap the rewards of Bob’s “yes and”-ing the situation. We get a do-over, just as we’re getting a kind of do-over in our relationship too. Oh, how can I not cry a little over this miracle, this gift. Happy tears!
(Photos by Bob or Theresa Alberti)