About 5 years ago, I woke up and realized I was missing out on life. I had been in Kansas City for a year, and the only people I knew were the people I worked with. I was bored, I was broke, I had just broken up with a guy who had been in and out of my life for 4 years, I was working 2 full-time jobs, and I celebrated my birthday that year with my parents and a slice of cheesecake - not because I wanted to, but because they were the only people I knew in the city.
I wasn't putting myself out there. I wasn't going out to meet new people. I wasn't volunteering. I wasn't exercising. I was saying no to to everything new because I was afraid. Afraid of what? I have no idea, but there was something in me that was holding me back. So, one morning, I woke up and decided I was done. Done with the word "no." It was that simple. I called it my "calculated yes's." Any time something new came across the table, if my first instinct was no, I had to say yes.
As a result, I played softball for the first time ever (turns out, I'm pretty bad at it). I went out drinking on Wednesday & Thursday nights when I had to work the next morning. I went on dates. I danced my butt off. I cut down a tree. I drank moonshine. I went to the gym every day. I laughed a lot. I cried a little. And, I said yes to my first date with my now husband, Lonnie.
When I first met Lonnie, he was wearing a Batman t-shirt, sitting in the backyard of his brother & sister-in-law's house. He cracked jokes, and quoted Anchorman (my favorite movie). He played with his nephews, and offered to take me to get chicken nuggets when I'd had too much to drink. We switched around pictures in his brother's house, and joked about installing clappers in every room while strategizing how we'd market it on Amazon. I have never laughed so much in my life. I liked him immediately. Every time he would sit somewhere, I would figure out how to move closer to him without being too obvious. We played games, and I learned way too much about him. I wanted to ask him out, but at that moment in time, my first instinct was "no." He was recently divorced, living at his parents' house, was 8 years older than me, and had a son. But, something inside me was saying "yes." So, when he asked me out two weeks later, I didn't hesitate.
On our first date, we met at the Quaff, and laughed for 3 hours straight. He walked me home afterward, and kissed me. The kind of kiss that knocks you off your feet. I remember walking away thinking, don't skip - be cool - OMG he kisses like me - Chelsea - be cool. He fondly remembers watching me walk away almost skipping, with my hair swishing from side to side. He took me out for my birthday two days later, and showed up with flowers. For the next year, he sent flowers on the 14th of every month. In that year, we went furniture shopping together, and had a ridiculous amount of fun at Nebraska Furniture Mart, he bought a house, I moved in, and the rest is history.
Fast forward to now - we have been together for 4 1/2 years. Over the last few years, I've gotten really good at saying yes - YES to my business, YES to new friends, YES to new commitments in my community, but what I've learned is that when life gets crazy, I forget to say yes where it counts. My default setting kicks in, and I breeze past the things that are important - like forgetting the schedule for a night so we can play games & laugh & eat frozen pizzas. I get so focused on getting the next item done, that I forget to slow down.
Lonnie's favorite version of me is what we fondly call "Vacation Chelsea." She's my favorite version of me. She's laid back - go with the flow - no schedule - no worries - she's a YES person. She's the kind of girl that forgets her phone in the cabin, drinks out of coconuts, and climbs all over rocks in the Bahamas. She's the kind of girl that hikes through San Francisco and writes her name in the sand, explores old trails, and eats strange food. She's the kind of girl that makes new friends in swimming pools and laughs when she gets caught in the rain...again.
Since our wedding a couple weeks ago, I've been thinking a lot about our vows - about all of the yes that we promised each other for the rest of our lives. Adventure. Laugh lines. Kisses. Love.
I promise that I will always try for us.
What better way to truly try, than to say more yes's?! Life is going to be hard sometimes - in fact, in our current situation, life is really hard sometimes. But, I believe that if we can just remember to say YES to each other first, before any other commitment. If we can remember to say YES to laughing & adventure a bit more often. If we can just remember to say YES to slowing down and remembering what's important, I think we will be just fine.
How do you remember to say "YES?"
What tools & tricks do you have to stay present & slow down?
What do you believe is the secret to a happy marriage?