Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Turns Out Life IS All About Relationships... Go Figure

I sat across the table and watched Jeremy glow as he talked about the new girl he met on a recent trip to St. Louis. He was going on and on about how great she was, how she reminded him of another girl he used to date. He talked about her red hair and fun personality. He loved that she was such a hard worker and was giddy about the fact that he met her at a card table. He is getting ready to go on vacation for a month and is tired of all the traveling he's been doing - but she asked him to come back and visit her for a few days before he leaves and he was trying to decide whether or not to go. I knew he was going to go… I'm pretty sure he knew he was going to go as well. 

As I listened to him and sipped on my Grolsch, I couldn't help but smile. I was a little nervous going into lunch with him. I felt like it was time to let him know that I had started dating someone else. Obviously, the romantic relationship between me and Jeremy ended amicably, but the one that started between me and Steven happened rather quickly. I became a little worried that Jeremy would feel strange that I became involved with someone so soon after our breakup. Clearly, this wasn't an issue. 

I've said it before and I'll continue saying it as long as it impresses me: when the lines of communication are so clear between two people, it is almost impossible to surprise one another. He knows that I want to find my partner for life (or my "Road Dog" as my hairstylist calls it) and I know that his dynamic personality will continue to attract others to him. It really wasn't surprising that we were having this conversation so soon after our relationship ended. 

I was relieved. I knew at that moment that as I had suspected for a while, Jeremy was brought into my life for reasons that didn't involve romance. Like all of my other ex-boyfriends, I was grateful for the time that we did have and for what we learned from each other. I also love the fact that we can continue being in relationship with one another and am eager to have him as a friend for life. 

In relationship. I've been thinking about this phrase a lot the past week or so. In that leadership program I was involved in, being "in relationship" with others was supposedly the key to living a life of purpose and being happy. That was why the program focused so heavily on connection and communication with others. The idea was to work through issues of negativity and superficiality and get to the core of why a particular person was brought into your life. The idea was to identify the traits in that person - both positive and negative - and relate them to something in ourselves that we could pinpoint as a source of attraction. 

It was a little hard to grasp at first. However, now it comes completely naturally to me. Why have I attracted this person? What is it that I love about him/her? What is it that I don't understand or don't agree with? What kind of conversations do we have and what am I learning from them? Why do you suppose they attracted me? The answers to these questions build a firm foundation on which to build the relationship. 

Having the freedom to do whatever I want has been incredible in many ways. I've realized recently that I've been doing something that I didn't really think was a priority when I set out on this mission to "reinvent myself." I'm working on these foundations. It started with my family. My mom and I have been working diligently on better communication and respect for one another and the quality of our relationship has improved on what I consider to be quite a massive scale. My mother and I have always gotten along okay, but it no longer feels forced as it has in the past. Even when we have our differences, we are able to talk about it in a way where we really see where they other is coming from and can work past it with unconditional love as our guide. 

I hung out with my brother outside of a family get-together the other night. We went out with a couple of friends after the Superbowl for a few beers and a round of Golden Tee. I was trying to recall the last time he and I hung out together socially and couldn't remember. It was really nice. The holes in our relationship seemed, at one time, to be irreparable. Now, I find that even if it's a slow process, the holes seem to be shrinking and closing one at a time. I very much look forward to the day when he and I are complete again. Lately, it seems like this day may not be as far off as I originally assumed. 

Something else pretty amazing happened the other night that has helped to confirm the fact that relationships can be repaired. 

I've attracted a great new little family called The Dojo. This is the group of people that I sing karaoke with while on my pursuit for my Black Belt. When my friend and ex-boyfriend, Justin, invited me out and encouraged me to sign up, I thought it was just going to be something silly to do whenever I needed to let my hair down. And it was… but already I've gotten so much more than I expected. 

A few weeks ago, one of the members of The Dojo had his Black Belt Ceremony. This is a celebratory night where the person being honored gets to pick what the theme is going to be. Ben, the newest black belt in The Dojo chose a White Trash theme for the evening. Since I find that I toe this line in general, putting together an outrageous outfit for this fun event wasn't very difficult. 

I had only been out to karaoke with The Dojo two or three times at this point and hadn't really gotten outside of my comfort zone to meet anyone yet. As it turns out, when you show up to a place wearing a see-through wife beater with breasts pushed up and out in a tight black bra, tiny shorts revealing a thong hiked up your back, and black strappy high heels, it's pretty easy to make friends. The following week, I had added almost twenty new friends to my Facebook account. 

I also met Steven, who I am currently dating and completely nuts about. He has been part of The Dojo for a long time. I love watching him interact with this family. He is well respected and adored by so many of it's members. I've had the pleasure of meeting his real family and friends outside The Dojo and it's so clear in all of his interactions how important being in relationship is to him as well. He's a natural. He loves others so whole-heartedly and without judgment. His energy lights up the room and like moths to a flame, it's rare that you ever see him standing alone. 

Our relationship is very new and as our purpose for finding each other continues to be uncovered, the one thing I know for sure is that I attracted him because of his strong focus on relationships. Once again, I can see based on what I've attracted just how far I've come in this particular arena. 

Last Saturday, I asked my friend Whitney to come to karaoke. I wanted her to bring her boyfriend, Bill. I was pretty sure Justin and Stephanie were going to be there as well. Here's the nutshell story: I dated Justin off and on for a while. While "on", he met my roommate at the time, Whitney. Once "off", they started dating. They dated for over a year and even moved in together. However, it didn't work out and they ended up separating. Amicable is NOT the word I would use to describe their separation. 

Shortly after their breakup, Whitney started dating Bill who she met through Justin. Bill and Justin had been friends for a while. This created… awkwardness. In the meantime, Justin jumped into online dating to see if he could meet someone and very rapidly came across Stephanie. After dating briefly, Justin and Stephanie got married downtown after football one Sunday. To know Justin and Stephanie is to know why this wasn't as crazy as one might think. 

I have spent the last few months bouncing back and forth between Justin and Whitney. Not only am I good friends with both, but we are all a part of The Dojo. Finally, after many conversations with all parties involved, it just seemed time to make something happen. I knew there was a chance that it could end badly. However, somewhere inside I had a feeling things were going to be okay. 

Well, to my delight, things were more than okay. Steven and I sat together at The Dojo last Saturday and watched with grins on our faces as Stephanie and Whitney sat and talked for hours. Justin and Bill were conversing with ease and confidence (and dare I say.. relief?) and we all sang, laughed and drank together as if there wasn't even a hiccup that needed overcoming. In fact, I left my phone and car keys at the bar that night and when my adorable and very selfless boyfriend drove me all the way back across town to pick them up, we walked in to find all four of them still sitting at a table, talking and connecting like old friends. 

Epic score. 

Jeremy, Cory, Whitney, Bill, Justin, Stephanie, Mom, Dad, J.J., The Dojo and Steven. Just a few people in my space that are proof of how amazing life can be when we focus on the fact that people DO matter and that being in relationship with others DOES instill a sense of purpose that can't be measured. I am not too naive to think that times will not always be rosy - but with love, commitment, outward focus, honesty and communication, we can create the relationships of our dreams in all areas of our lives. 

Money, houses, cars, clothes, careers, etc… at the end of the day, it truly is the shoulder to shoulder that counts the most. 


  1. Great story! Love it! Of all things in a relationship of any kind, communication is always the hardest -- honest communication! So happy for you!

  2. the real question is... Can Steven bowl!? Would love to hang out with you guys soon! :)

  3. You don't give yourself nearly enough credit.

    Tina exudes an energy and a confidence that is so positive and so genuinely respectful and concerned for the well being of those close to her, that I find it almost impossible to bear any feelings of unhappiness/anger/resentment, etc. while she is anywhere near.

    Clearly, Tina, others are similarly affected by your energy.

    This energy, while it certainly existed, was not as clear and as focused when I first met you. Even though the romantic part of our relationship didn't work out, I'm so glad you dared to dream big with me!! I think we are both far better people for it. I know you will continue to live your life on purpose and without permission, and your amazing energy will have a hand in touching countless more lives in the weeks, months, and years ahead...


  4. Touched by it. Seriously. Happy to have you as part of the family. Next topic idea i would love 2 hear ur thoughts on... breaking up within a circle of close friends overcoming the awkardness of lost relationships and snoozing and losing ;-)

  5. Nice post. I just signed up on the writers group site and saw your blog. I'm in Vegas blogging too. Maybe I'll see you at a meeting someday. My blog is called