Today I Will Marry My Husband. Again.

tattoo wedding band, married hands, vow renewal, Today is the first day of my marriage. For this year.

Today is also the 12th first day we’ve had.

When we were engaged and still in the planning process for our first wedding to each other, a couple dear to us mentioned to My Knight that they have renewed their vows every year of their marriage.

She explained that it helps remind you of what you’ve committed to, what you promised, and what you meant to accomplish together. It keeps fresh in your mind throughout the years that this was a choice you made willingly, and it was something you wanted and were dedicated to.

Her husband agreed with her, but he added his own take on their ritual. He told My Knight that if anyone told him he had to spend the rest of his life with her, he wouldn’t be able to do it. But he could do a year. So every time their anniversary rolled around, he decided he could do another year.

They’d been married 52 years at that time if memory serves me correctly, and they’re still married all these years later. They’re still signing up for one more year every time.

My Knight loved the idea so much that he proposed it to me before our first vows were spoken, and being just as much of a hopeless romantic as he is, I wholeheartedly agreed.

Of course, being the planner at heart that I am, I complicated it by saying we would take turns planning a surprise for each year. That way every other year someone is surprised and no one has to bear responsibility for all the planning.

We’ve had some amazing experiences over the years. We’ve done lakeside Sarasota Medieval Faire; Vow Renewalpicnics, lush gardens, the Italian fountain at Epcot, historic inns, a medieval fair (complete with knight and wench costumes), and a beautiful rainforest.

Much like married life, the renewals haven’t always gone as planned.

The hot air balloon for our 5th anniversary was nearly a bust the minute the alarm clock went off way before dawn and My Knight refused to get up—saying that whatever I had planned could surely wait until later in the day after more sleep. Once I got him up and out of the house and to the location where the surprise was revealed, high winds kept the balloon on the ground, and we ended up at a lakeside gazebo later in the day and could have slept after all.

One year, the whole day went by without any mention of a surprise, and by the time dinner rolled around, I had gotten quite cranky thinking perhaps he’d forgotten or had failed to plan. We went to a nice restaurant, but the mood was sour with my disappointment. I’d been spending all my time at the theater in rehearsals for a play, and when he mentioned he needed to stop by there to drop off paint, I acted quite the ass and refused to accompany him inside, upset that he had failed to make the evening special when he’d had a year to plan. Once we were in the dark, deserted theater, he led me around the corner, and when the stage came into view, it was beautifully and magically lit with twinkle lights, and there stood my director and dearest friend waiting to participate in our evening. He’d been thoughtful and caring in his plans, and I’d almost ruined it with my attitude!

We don’t plan any big fanfare or hoopla. In fact, it’s usually just the two of us and someone we select each year to do the text of our original ceremony for us, and some years we have someone to do the original reading as well.

We often ask people who have been instrumental in our lives that past year, or people whose relationship we admire and look up to.

Hot Air Balloon Ride for Anniversary Vow RenewalFolks tell me all the time how romantic it is that we do this, and it is. I love that I get to be a bride every year, without all the stress and expense of an actual wedding. I love that we reaffirm our commitment each year and that we honor each other in special ways as we plan the day. I love planning his surprise, and I thoroughly enjoy finding out what he has planned for me.

But it’s not always easy to say those vows again.

Marriages, even the best and happiest ones, have ups and downs. People are messy. Love is messy. It makes you vulnerable, and it can cause pain. It can be frustrating and infuriating.

There have been years where it was easy for those vows to roll off my tongue, and I was able to say them with a smile just as large as on the day I first said them in 2006.

But there have been years that the words were thick in my throat, and it was hard to get them out and muster the conviction I knew I needed to say them. Those were the years that were most important. Those were the years that those vows meant the most.

Because when it is the hardest to love our mate, when it is the hardest to be dedicated to the relationship, when it seems that romance is the farthest thing from the moment…that is when it is most crucial to remember that love is a choice.

In those moments, I am reminded that for better or worse isn’t always better. That to love and cherish above all others isn’t always easy. That to give all that I am, all that I have been, and all that I will be means the good, the bad, and the ugly.

We are both flawed human beings. We love each other. We support each other. We are committed to each other. And yet, there are days, when we can’t stand the sight of each other.

My Knight and I at the top of Notre Dame in Paris.But on November 9th each year, we choose each other again. We choose to say that come what may, you are my partner in this life. We choose to love. We choose to forgive. We choose to move forward. We choose to be married.

We decide to sign up for one more year.

Happy Anniversary, baby. I love you. I can’t wait to marry you again today, and I can’t wait to see what this new year brings.

Charlie Brown, Fairy Tales, Dreams, Horns & Happy Endings

I have always loved writing.  And it is hard to love writing without having a passion for reading what others write.  I could read my first book aloud from cover to cover at age 2:   He’s Your Dog, Charlie Brown.   As a young girl, I absolutely loved being able to escape into a book.  I could go all over this world and many others, learning skills, history and life lessons, all within the pages.  I always imagined myself as a character in the book, and I always wondered what I would do differently or how I would handle the situation.  My favorite books as a kid were the kind where you chose your own adventure.  You know, the ones with “if you think Billy should go into the cave, turn to page 73.  If you think Billy should go home for lunch, turn to page 65.” In real life, I would have gone home for lunch.  But in a book, I was the first one in the cave.  And I could read that same book over and over again and have a different ending each time because I got to pick what Billy would do.  And that’s what sparked the writing flame.  I discovered I liked telling people, um, characters, what to do. By the end of elementary school, I had begun to write “novels”.  They were cheesy, error-ridden stories that lacked plot, theme, characterization, grammar . . . and pages.  I think the longest was five notebook pages.  (But it was front and back!)  My diary entry on the last day of school for 3rd grade announced that my plans for summer were to make sure my sister stopped smoking, get a tan, and write a “real” novel.  Well, at least I got a tan so the summer wasn’t a total bust.  By high school, I had moved onto complex essays and the required dry reading they force you to do. My well-meaning parents were always thrilled when I told them I wanted to be a writer and an actress. Those are both really booming and in-demand jobs in our small hometown with one red light.  Ahem, not.  I don’t want to say they didn’t encourage me to pursue my dreams, so I’ll just say they emphatically encouraged me to pursue a steady paycheck career instead.  I tried to compromise in college by majoring in Speech/Communications with an emphasis in Journalism/Public Relations.  I figured I could find a “real job” writing under those vague umbrellas.  Instead, I found mouse ears through Disney’s college recruitment.  And although there was no writing, I did get to act—act as though I really wanted to work in food & beverage! I thought I had found my happily ever after when I settled into a new job at Disney’s Fairy Tale Weddings, a new house, and a new marriage.  Now the time had finally come for me to be an actress and a writer.  But we were busy building a new wedding pavilion at work, filming weddings for television specials, and at home, my marriage and new baby needed attention as well.  I started a couple of writing projects, but they always fell to the back burner.  And the back burner was never the one that was turned on.  After leaving Disney and that marriage, I floundered for a few years, searching.  I spent time focusing on my incredible son, getting my own event planning company off the ground, and just trying to survive my life choices and their consequences. Eventually, I found love (my knight!) and a new career in the education field.  I prepared to start a new version of my old dream as I settled into teaching middle school writing during the week and occasionally acting in community theater on the weekends.  Life should have been good.   I had a wonderful marriage, an awesome son, and a steady job.  And I was miserable. I wasn’t who I was supposed to be.  Every day I had voices in my head. (not the strait jacket/padded room kind of voices) Voices who had dialogue, plots and twists going on.  Everyday occurrences became woven into my mind’s stories.  I had fully scripted conversations with the mirror as I got ready for work, and I played all the characters.  (okay, so maybe I should have ordered a jacket and some padding from Amazon, but stay with me!)  I felt like I was going through the motions of my own life, not really living it.  I encouraged those around me to follow their dreams.  I even taught an adult class on how to find your purpose in life and live it.  But I wasn’t.  I told my son to follow his heart.  But I wasn’t.  And it continued to eat at me and spin inside me until I was in mental torment all the time.  (okay, you were right; I should’ve gotten the jacket).  I tried teaching a different subject at school, a different grade level, a different school.  But I still had this gnawing feeling inside me that I was supposed to write.  And so my closest friends and my incredible husband all said, DO IT. DO IT. DO IT.  They were so supportive and so encouraging.  (And so tired of me complaining I was miserable!) But they could see in me what I wanted to become, and they believed I could do it. So I am. And it’s funny how people react when you tell them you’ve quit your full-time job to pursue your dreams of writing, acting and art.  They look at you as though you just confessed you secretly have horns growing out of your butt.  And you’ve asked them if they want to see the horns.  Yes, I know the economy is terrible.  Yes, I realize there are no benefits or retirement plan.  Yes, I realize that puts a lot of strain on my husband and my family.  Yes, I am aware that there are already millions of people who are trying to do this, and very few succeed.  And yes, I know how old I am and that it’s a little late to arrive at the dance. But I don’t want to get to the end and wonder what would have happened if I could have been what I wanted to be.  If I had just given it everything I had.  I don’t want to look back on my life and wish I had at least tried.  I would much rather say I did everything I could and it didn’t work.  Well, who am I kidding?! I would much rather say I did everything I could and it DID work, but hopefully you get the point. So here I am, World.  I am a writer.  I am an actress.  I am an artist.  I am who I am supposed to be.  I am following my dreams.  And I am at peace.