Finding Our Happily Ever After…  

7.16.15

Tomorrow, my husband and I will celebrate our 18th wedding anniversary. It’s hard to believe that I met him when I was an 18-year-old sophomore at the University of Kansas. He literally almost knocked me off my off my feet when he bumped into me at “The Bull,” a dive bar down the road from my sorority and his fraternity. I remember thinking that I’d never met anyone quite like him. He was tall, tanned and handsome, with these intense blue eyes. He was also kind, driven, intelligent and athletic. He checked all of my boxes and then some…

About a week later, my sorority had a date dash: we were given 24 hours to find a date for a surprise party, which was planned for the next night. My first thought was to ask Kyle. I’d seen him running (shirtless) that afternoon and he’d yelled “Hey, Kara!” to me (a good sign). With a room full of sorority sisters, I mustered up the courage to call his fraternity and to ask for him. Eventually, he answered the phone; I asked if he had plans for the next night? He paused and said that he thought he might have to study. (It was a Friday night…and the first week of school!?!). Before I could say okay, he hung up on me. Stunned and embarrassed, I handed the phone to my roommate and said, “It’s your turn. I hope you have better luck!”

About a half hour later, the house phone rang and was connected to my room. It was Kyle. He said that he was asleep and confused when I called. When he tried to fall back asleep, he realized who I was and what he’d done. He asked if I’d found another date and I said, “No. I’m still trying to recover from your rejection.”

I’m not sure why I love this story; it’s pretty humiliating! My eleven-year-old son was asking about our first date a couple of days ago and I told it to him. He started laughing and said, “I’m sure glad that Dad came to his senses and called you back!” Me too.

Today, my own dad pointed out that I’ve spent the same amount of time as Kyle’s wife as I spent growing up in my parents’ home…It’s all gone by in a blink. I constantly hear myself commenting on how fast our three children are growing up. Although I’ve started buying wrinkle cream and coloring the silver sparkles that I am beginning to spot more frequently in my hair, I rarely pause and reflect on how quickly my husband and I are also growing up. (I think that sounds much better than growing old.)

When I look at photos from our wedding, I see two kids making grown-up promises. I see two bright-eyed, optimistic twenty-two year olds who cannot wait to take on adulthood together. We could not imagine the challenges or struggles that we’d face as a team. We could not envision the beautiful family that we’d create or the friends and experiences that we’d collect along the way. I am so thankful that I’ve had him as my teammate to help navigate the bumpy road of life. We continue to pursue our happily ever after, one small (and big) decision at a time. As we celebrate our 18th wedding anniversary, I’m so thankful that he made the correct first decision and chose to say, “Yes!” to me.

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Waking the Labyrinth of Life

July 3, 2016

I recently visited my dear friend, who lives in Denver. Our 17-year friendship is very yin and yang. She is extremely extroverted, optimistic and laid-back; I am the opposite. She is also one of the most spiritual people that I know. Her life has been a series of unplanned blessings, while I rarely make a move without listing the pros and cons and weighing them obsessively…

Lately, she’s begun walking a local labyrinth on a regular basis; it provides a path for moving meditation and focused prayer. My friend can be quite persuasive and talked me into trying it after happy hour one evening. She explained that the winding path would untangle my mind and make my own way clear… She handed me a brochure, which provided these simple instructions:

Prepare. Before beginning your labyrinth journey, pause at the entrance and take a few deep breaths; close your eyes and focus on any aspect of your current life. It could be something that is troubling you or a goal that you are working towards; walking the labyrinth is a time for spiritual growth and personal realization. This short walk may yield fruitful outcomes and exciting prospects simply through an ancient form of directing your mind’s eye at your life’s path without the complication of personal doubt and resistance.

Release. As you enter the labyrinth, focus only on the rhythm of your breath and path set before you. Let go of the meticulous details of your life and focus on the bigger picture through silence of mind and strength of heart. 

Receive. Once you reach the center, take time to reflect, meditate or pray; open your mind to enlightenment. You may ask a question and listen for answer(s) on your way out.

Return. When you are ready, follow the same path back to the entrance.

Exit. Exit and reflect.

As I walked the labyrinth, it seemed to illustrate my own life’s path in a tangible way. As I felt myself getting closer to my goal of reaching the center, my path was pulled in the opposite direction to the farthest possible point. This pattern was repeated again and again until I found myself standing in its center and contemplating all of the twists and turns that it took for me to get there. It illustrated the importance of putting one foot in front of the other and trusting your path even when you cannot see how it’s going to get you to where you want to be.

Lately, my path forward has not been clear. At times, it feels like I’m moving in the right direction, only to be whisked in the opposite way. I often find myself wishing that I could skip ahead and skim the last chapter of my life, just to make sure that everything will end up okay for me and my little family. This short experience made me realize that life is like a labyrinth. I must choose to trust my path and to have faith that my steps will lead me to where I’m meant to be. The journey requires faith and hope… and lots of love (always).

Curious? Visit http://labyrinthlocator.com to find a labyrinth near you.