my brave love journey

brave love book, inspiration, steve By September 20, 2018 Tags: 6 Comments

I haven’t shared much about this, but a couple years ago my husband Steve and I went through a marriage crisis. It was one of the scariest, darkest times of my life. I told him I wanted to separate. I needed space, time, I needed to be alone so I could think. It was surreal to say those words to him. It was like someone else was saying them. But I was desperate and something had to change, I had to change.

For a long time I believed that to be loved I had to be less.
Steve didn’t tell me these things. I brought this deeply held belief into our marriage.
I had to make myself smaller so he could grow and shine.
I had to give up what I wanted so he could have what he wanted.
I had to sacrifice myself to make him love me.
If Steve was happy he would love me.
If my kids were thriving they would love me.
I believed there wasn’t enough for all us—I would have to take less so they could have more.
I thought this was love—give everything and ask for nothing in return.
It didn’t work. At all.
I tried so hard for so long to make everyone happy. I went from tired to frustrated to bitter and exhausted. But I kept trying and trying. Giving and giving, sacrificing and making myself smaller—until I was desperate.
I was done trying, done with my marriage, done with feeling exhausted and overwhelmed. I was done with feeling like a failure.
I needed space–time to be quiet, to rest, to figure out what I needed to change so I could thrive.

my brave love birthstone ring–inspired by my journey

Steve was devastated when I told him I wanted to separate but he graciously made space for me. That evening, after I told him I needed time, he packed an overnight bag and went to stay with a friend. The next day he came home to stay with our boys and I went away for a little over a week. I spent time grieving, walking, journaling and praying. It’s hard to describe how hard those days were–the depth of my sadness, the fear that I was losing my family. I don’t know if I’ve ever cried that much in my entire life. It was like all these feelings I held inside me–all the feelings I tried to ignore while I took care of everyone else–came flooding up to the surface. Those feelings were there and they had to be felt. I knew things had to change and I knew the change was going to be brutal. I wasn’t sure if our marriage could survive–but I knew I had to change me, my wrong beliefs, my habits that were hurting me and my family.

During those dark days I had a lightbulb moment. I am a person–a whole person with my own thoughts, feelings, needs and preferences. For so long I saw myself as less–just a vehicle to take care of the other people in my family. I didn’t count. My feelings didn’t matter. But in that lightbulb moment I realized I DO COUNT. I matter. I matter just as much as my husband and children. I have thoughts and feelings and needs and preferences just like they do–and they matter. There are four people in our family and I am one of them.

my brave love spinner ring–inspired by my journey

So I started saying what I thought.

I started saying what I needed.

I started speaking my mind and sharing my feelings.

I started making time for naps, walks, time with friends, alone time and so many more things my heart needed.

I started being a whole person with my own thoughts, feelings, needs and preferences.

My voice would shake as I began to represent myself. I felt sick to my stomach. I wanted to put up walls and run away but I stayed and tried to engage honestly. It was terrifying. Steve and I fought more. Things got messier. I worried about the boys. I disrupted our rhythm. Change is hard. There were times I didn’t think we would make it. There were many tears and I so much fear as I started living honestly and without apology. I had to be me, even if it meant our marriage ended.

Slowly but surely things started to take shape. I was getting stronger and braver. I was becoming whole–becoming ME. Becoming who I was always meant to be.

Friends, life is crazy hard sometimes. While I long for peace and beauty, sometimes the only way to get there is through conflict and darkness. My journey has been up and down, forward and back and I still don’t have it figured out–but I’m learning.

Steve and I are married and our relationship is stronger than ever. We are having more fun. We are learning to let each other be who we are without fear. It could have ended differently and even with a different ending it could have been beautiful. There isn’t one right journey or one right path. There is simply the journey each of us are on, the path each of us are walking.

When we walk in honesty and vulnerability we are living out of our truest selves.

This is love.

This is brave.

This is brave love.

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for my sweetheart on Father’s Day

family, father's day, steve By June 4, 2018 3 Comments

Father’s Day is right around the corner and I’ve been thinking about what an amazing father Steve is to our boys. I think about it a lot, actually. It’s not perfection that makes him amazing, he’s not perfect and he would quickly admit that. What makes him amazing is his desire to stretch and grow and become who he is made to be. He models for our boys every day what it looks like to bravely step into the things that scare you, instead of running away or living in denial.

To bravely step into what scares him means he has to acknowledge hard things. He looks at a problem from all angles and considers different solutions. He values honesty. He is honest with himself even when it hurts. He’s honest with me even when he’s nervous to tell me something I don’t want to hear. He’s honest with our boys about life, faith, money, friendship and so much more.

I see David’s face light up when Steve comes into the room and throw his arms around his dad for a big hug. Watching Matthias grow into a teenager {practically a man!} I watch Steve engage in deep, honest conversations and I’m overwhelmed with gratitude. Steve loves our boys in a way I cannot. David and Matthias are loved by their dad and it’s a gift they most likely can’t comprehend.

I know few people who crave learning like Steve does. He took up guitar a few years ago and he’s really good! I love hearing him play and sing. While our boys were little he earned a doctoral degree. When our business started to grow he jumped in as CEO and hungrily read every business book he could get his hands on. He asks others for advice and insights and listens to what they say. He wants to grow, it’s who he is.

He makes me stronger. Being married to someone who is constantly learning and growing means I am constantly learning and growing. Steve pushes me to try new things, loosen up, be brave and live life to the fullest. I am willing to take risks because I know he’ll be by my side no matter what. He loves to travel, try new foods, meet new people and gather new information.

He reads to David, has nerf wars with Matthias, whips up high protein pancakes for our family each morning and snuggles on the couch to watch a movie in the evenings. He’s intense and sensitive, a visionary and a do-er. He’s high energy but loves to snuggle. He works hard for our family and drops everything the moment one of us needs him. He doesn’t think he’s got life figured out and he apologizes when he makes a mistake. And he’s got the cutest smile, too.

It has been fun to stand beside him as he launches his own brand Stephen David Leonard. Every design reflects who he is and what is important to him. His shop is full of products he uses every day. If you haven’t seen his new line, you can check it out here.

Men's Jewelry, Accessories & Leather Goods by Stephen David Leonard
Our life together is beautiful, messy, loud, adventurous and far from perfect but we are better together, bound by laughter and tears, I-love-yous and forgiveness. Steve shows us how to live bravely, being willing to make mistakes, take responsibility and move forward.
Happy Father’s Day, sweetheart. We are better because of you.

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You’re The One

father's day, steve By June 13, 2017 31 Comments

A few nights ago, I had a very dark dream. I dreamed there were a group of middle school boys picking on a young boy. They were carrying him by the arms and legs. As we drove by them, one of boys started putting a plastic bag over the head of the young boy. Steve pulled over the car as quickly as he could and ran toward the crowd of boys. I woke up shaking and couldn’t fall back asleep.  I had so many thoughts running through my head–but the most important was this–if we were ever in a situation like the one in my dream, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt, Steve would jump in to help the young boy.

It was the middle of the night and I was wide awake, so I wrote down these words…

***

When you asked me out on our first date, I wasn’t sure. But soon I had no doubt; you are the one.
You are the one I want by my side, for my whole life.

When I wanted to start a little jewelry business, you are the one who said, ‘Yes! Go for it. You can do it.’  You are the one who saw the vision of what it could be. You are the one who spends countless hours dreaming, working, inventing, reimagining and building our business.

When our boys were little, you are the one who could cuddle them for hours on end. You are the one who would take an afternoon nap with them on your chest. You are the one who was first to comfort a scrapped knee or bruised elbow.

When we disagreed with David’s surgeon, you are the one who said, “We’ll get a second opinion. We’ll fight for what is best for David.” You are the one who will go to any length to protect our boys.

When we saw one of our vendors mistreating an employee, you are the one who stepped in. You were the one who said ‘No, I won’t stand for this.’ and ended the relationship.

When we were on vacation and saw a man mercilessly beating up another man, you are the one who immediately intervened. You are the one who began yelling and running to break it up. While everyone else stood around watching, you are the one who didn’t hesitate to fight for the one in need.

When Matthias has thoughts, hurts, dreams, ideas, you are the one who listens and affirms and encourages and builds him up. You are the one he looks to for support and boundaries. You are the one who has helped shape him into a confident thirteen year old ready to take on the world.

You are the one who took up cycling again after twenty years and excelled. You are the one who joined Gymnazo and soon became one of the strongest and fastest. You are the one who took up guitar lessons and acting lessons. You are the one who bravely steps into new things.

You are the one who pursued a doctorate–connecting deeply with your professors and cohort in a way that changed not only your own faith, but helped mold mine as well.

You are the one who went to Onsite and counseling, then The Meadows to heal your hurts and love yourself. You are the one who bravely engages to live fully and love with your whole heart.

You are the one who speaks honestly.
You are the one who tries new things.
You are the one who loves deeply.
You are the one who believes in big dreams.

You are the one who’s showing our boys what it looks like to be, not only a good man, but the best of men.

You are the one who will do whatever you want to do.
You are the one I want by my side forever and for always.
You are the one for me.

Happy Father’s Day, sweetheart. I am so glad you’re my partner in parenting, in business, in creativity, in dreaming big, in LIFE! I love you!!


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