Don’t let the chance of a life full of joy pass you by because you’re afraid to love

IMG_2203If I had said no instead of yes…

If I hadn’t given him a chance…

If I had listened to the lines of “We’re just good friends” and “He’ll be a great boyfriend… for someone else,” denying the undeniable draw I felt toward him…

If I had walked away from the first man who sounded home into every crevice of my soul…

…I wouldn’t be sitting here sandwiched between the two most precious boys I could ever imagine, a silver kitten making bread on the Berkshire blanket that warms us against the icy April wind, my solid husband painting down below as he keeps watch, his heart my home, the words so much love echoing through my mind.

I feel so blessed: this beautiful life sprouting like magic daffodils in the grass beneath each step; the gift of loving each other and all that has been birthed by our good, honest loving: our marriage, our kids, our home, our passions, our work in the world. If I had walked away I never would have learned how to address the fear so I could say yes to love, and then touch hearts around the world as I hold the lantern and show them the way.

Perhaps I’m making it sound easy, all kittens and daffodils. But there was nothing easy about this walk from there to here. We had a rocky start, then progressed to a deeply connected friendship, then chose the romance and sailed into a two month float on a calm, September sea. It was easy at first, nice and connected and romantic in all the right ways. And then in November our boat hit an iceberg: my wall of fear. By January we were hanging on by a thread. With the help of a master therapist and our devotion to growth and learning, after reams of dialogues and hours of crying as I shed the old ways and the false beliefs, we found our way back.

Here we are, in this blessing of a life that would never be had we not slogged through the swamp of fear and remained devoted to ourselves and each other. We’re still devoted. Marriage isn’t a one-time choice but an ongoing commitment to soften into our hard edges and let go of the myriad ways the fear and control attempt to keep us separate. It’s a commitment to take loving action even when you’re not feeling loving, to show up even when you’d rather hide in a hole. Marriage is at once a known entity and completely mysterious as you forge a shared life with your best friend and realize that there are places that you will never know or touch in one another. It is union and separateness, closeness and distance, connection and disconnection. The sweetness lies in breathing into the ebb and flow of marriage without holding on too tightly to the open places. The spaciousness lies in remembering that we will always be learning about love, and that there will be elements that we may never learn.

I could talk about the challenges, for there are plenty. I could talk about the qualities in my husband that I don’t like, and he could just as readily tell you about mine. But right now, in this moment, all I see is the love that grew from our love. I see my husband’s best qualities passed down to my sons: his goodness shining through their eyes, his passionate creativity exploding through their play, his science mind, his love of words, his kindness, his thoughtfulness. When the gratitude floods me, I run with it. I write about it and express it and share it with everyone around me. It’s the water that helps the garden of our marriage grow.

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© Copyright 2015 Sheryl Paul, M.A., All rights Reserved.
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As the daughter of two psychotherapists,Sheryl grew up with the language and theories of psychology running through her blood. As a young girl, she vacillated between dreaming about one day being either a writer, a therapist, or a midwife. Having found the confluence of these three arts through writing about and spiritually midwifing people through life’s transitions, including the transition of transforming anxiety, self-doubt, and depression to serenity, self-trust, and joy, Sheryl feels deeply blessed to be living in the heart of her calling. While her writing and counseling work have primarily focused on the specific transitions of getting married and becoming a mother, in recent years she has felt called to broaden her practice to include the lifelong transition of life in all its beauty and complexity. For whether on the verge of leaping into marriage, getting a divorce, suffering through anxiety or depression, struggling with an addiction, or birthing a new identity as a mother, Sheryl believes we find the same issues of self-trust and control appearing again and again. The story line may change, but the spiritual seeker quickly finds that the areas that need attention reappear at deeper layers of the spiral on life’s journey. Sheryl utilizes an effective, 6-step process called Inner Bonding® cradled within the spiritual context of transitions to create a powerful framework through which she can assist clients in finding their own voice, exploring the stories and beliefs that interfere with hearing this voice, confronting their need to control and the perpetual practice of learning to surrender, and guiding them as they make their way through life’s challenges and joys. Her decade of working with clients in transition combined with years of a loving marriage (not without continual consciousness and hard work!) and the privilege/challenge of being a mother have solidified her firm belief that, while guides are often necessary to help us find our way through the labyrinths, no one outside of ourselves and a spiritual source has the answers. In fact, SheryI believes that, whether we’re talking about parenting, marriage, or anxiety, there are no definite answers; there’s only the process of discovering what’s right for you. In 1997, Sheryl graduated from Pacifica Graduate Institute, a depth psychology program founded upon the teachings of Joseph Campbell, Carl Jung, James Hillman, and the study of dreams, archetypes, myths, and the myriad ways that the unconscious manifests in daily and nightly life. As a writer, poet, and epic dreamer, she encourages her clients to explore their own creative outlets as pathways for connecting to Spirit and finding their own truths. In 1999, she launched her unique business, Conscious Weddings, and a year later published her first book, The Conscious Bride, which broke the taboo of discussing the underbelly of the wedding transition. In 2003, her second book, The Conscious Bride’s Wedding Planner, was published, and in 2004, she began working with impending and new mothers through Conscious Motherhood. Since 1999, Sheryl has counseled thousands of people worldwide through her private practice, her bestselling books, her Home Study Programs and her website. She has appeared several times on “The Oprah Winfrey Show”, as well as on “Good Morning America” and other top media shows and publications around the globe. To sign up for her free 78-page eBook, “Conscious Transitions: The 7 Most Common (and Traumatic) Life Changes“, visit her Home page. Sheryl looks forward to hearing from you.