September 7 marked two years since I proposed to Theresa. By then, I had known for some time that she would like to get married and she had known for an equal amount of time that I had deep feelings of skepticism about the institution that were only minutely to do with having already been married and divorced; though it ended after a decade, I had a fantastic first marriage.
And then there was a magical coaching session where I was client to the creative and intuitive Annette Simmons. Something cracked wide open within me. My coaching changed. My perspective changed. And I knew with great certainty that it was time to propose.
I ordered a ring from an artist in North Carolina. I collaborated with Bloom, a wonderful farm-to-table restaurant, to create a tasting menu just for Theresa. I even, quite compulsively and unintentionally and with much kicking myself afterwards, started one last debate with Theresa about the purpose of marriage.
And then, all duded up, the night came and we ate course after course, and then it was time and out came the ring and despite all of the writing and thinking and mulling I did about what to say, I choked out only, “Marry me?” And she said yes.
The restaurant staff, all atwitter with anticipation all night, watched this subtle proposal closely and then finally decided it was time to bring out their surprise: bubbly mocktails in champagne flutes for a celebratory toast.
After several pandemic-related postponements, our wedding date is just days away, the ceremony shaved to its bare bones when we decided we were tired of debating how to create a space that felt safe enough. Instead, it will be us, two officiants, eight family members (of the biological and chosen varieties), outside. The weather, at this point, is looking a touch dicey. It will be what it will be, and whatever it is, we will be wed by that afternoon.
Of all the horrors of this pandemic era – all the deaths and inequities and divisiveness, all the isolation and unemployment and overwhelm – there have been some bits of inspiration. We have seen that great swaths of people can and will come together for the sake of the community’s well-being. We have seen an unprecedented number of white people turn toward the hardships and dangers experienced by Black and brown people. We have seen curiosity turned toward what it means to lead, to parent, to learn, to work in this environment and which parts will help us thrive even when the pandemic wanes.
So, too, with our wedding and its juxtaposition of discomfort and disappointment with opportunity and inspiration.
For an eternally-recovering perfectionist like me, the pandemic-inspired changes to our wedding jolted me out of imagining it could be a perfect day and laid the foundation solidly in the less-than-ideal. And that, my friends, was all sorts of liberating. Instead of doing what I’ve done after every major event so far in my life – focus on how it fell short instead of how it was wonderful – I’m set up to see it exactly as it is: A lovely, simple and small ritual to honor a commitment that has been and will be inevitably and beautifully imperfect.
I’m not suggesting gratitude for the pandemic itself. Covid-19 is a horror show that keeps pulling out new weapons. I’m suggesting that within the context of what is, there is abundant room to discover – and create – what could be.
This, too, is a form of acceptance. And just as the vaccine is mighty helpful but not a panacea, acceptance is a form of intentional engagement with the complexities of self, others, and life that requires a whole lot of practice (for which we get endless opportunities) that is mighty helpful and not a cure. The coaching collaboration is a safe and nurturing space to kick-off and deepen this transformational practice. Reach out to find out how.