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Pressed:  The Honeymoon

23 May

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The Word Honeymoon:  The word “‘honeymoon’ comes from the the Old English “hony moone.” Hony, a reference to honey…and the ‘indefinite period of tenderness and pleasure experienced by a newly wed couple,’ and how sweet the new marriage is. Moone, meanwhile, refers to the fleeting amount of time that sweetness would last” (Kerley, 2014).

Our honeymoon was an important period of time for us after much preparation for our recent wedding. Amidst a storm of personal and professional transformations, both Chris and I looked towards our trip to the Dominican Republic as a reprieve from the angst of everyday life.  The countdown to the tropical escape was very important to us along with entering the world as a legal couple, sanctioned by the church, the country and our families.  We were finally official, and as we travelled to another country, I became comfortable referencing Chris as “…my husband”.  It required a bit of practice for someone who has been single for 45 years of my 50-year-old life (90 percent of my life).

Time to Think Big:  We found as we rested away from our everyday angst and relaxed into a new reality filled with sunshine, excellent food, Dominican rum and loud Latino music, that we were able to think about our lives differently.  New possibilities about our future together emerged, where in our day-to-day paradigms, we did not immediately connect the dots.  As well, what seemed possible as dreams from home, when looking at our plans with a bit of objectivity, and less attachment, seemed less realistic.  Our perspective from a new culture, landscape and state of minds, allowed for much discussion about “what next?”  We really appreciated this space and time to really collect our spirit and thoughts in order to really explore our relationship and our dreams together.

The Never-Ending Honeymoon:  In one of the books that Chris and I have read together entitled:  How To Be an Adult in Relationship:  The Five Keys to Mindful Loving by David Richo (2002), we grappled with his fairly sophisticated look at human love relationships.  In it there is this sense that we go through phases of relationships.  He indicates that the romance phase is just the beginning.  “All our experiences and levels of interest follow a bell-shaped curve:  ascending, cresting/flourishing, and descending.  This geometric figure asserts the given of human existence…Thus, rising interest in someone crests in romance, descends into conflict, and finally reposes in commitment.  Love is authentic when it stays intact through all the phases of change” (p. 106).  As depressing as his assertions are that romance decreases and changes with time, it impressed upon us to think about the value of the positive beginning of our relationship marked by a honeymoon.

My parents told me that they often think back to their early days with fondness.  Although they have humorous tales of getting lost on a drive down to the US in a snow storm for their honeymoon, they remember so many of the romantic encounters of their first years together very lovingly.  Those early days are remembered most, I imagine, if they are filled with romance and hope; fun and dreams; and all of the things that beckon us to find ourselves anew in the wonderment of new love.  What better way to set the stage than by doing many new things together.

The List of Firsts Together:  On our honeymoon, we looked over our “list of firsts together” that we continue to build, reference and check off in our relationship.  We love setting out little goals that help us to think about all of those new things that we want to experience for the first time together.  On our honeymoon, we tackled a few of these:  skinny dipping, frolicking in the waves, drinking from a coconut, travelling internationally, ping pong, billiards on the beach, snorkling, dancing meringue, learning Spanish and so much more.  We had time – made time to really get to know each other in a fun and romantic way.

After the Honeymoon:  The goal after the honeymoon seems for us, to continue adding to this list, and then crossing things off as we explore ourselves in the context of marriage.  So many matters of life stand the chance of getting in the way.  The challenge is always to put each other first and to find ways to celebrate special occasions, and everyday opportunities amidst the minutia of our day to day experiences.  We find it too easy to get caught up in the spinning of family, friends, work, house and health, when really, it just takes a bit of time to weave a really interesting memory together.

I often think back to the experiences that jump out most to me.  They are the ones where we took time to prepare, experience and then re-live them through our pictures together.  I often marvel at how many people spend more time prepping for a meal which involves gathering the food; pulling it together into some reasonable recipe, eating and then cleaning it up (often hours); than they do to create romantic experiences together.  Instead, they throw romance together through ordering up a date; buying a gift, or making plans at the last minute and hoping that they will work out.  Romance requires more than simply leaving things to chance.

We need to stage our romantic lives just like a honeymoon.  We need to ask ourselves:  What is it that we want to experience romantically?  How do we do it?  What steps need to happen for it to turn out well?  How do we insure its success?  What will we do to remember it long into the future?  This is a recipe for prolonging this romantic stage that Rico indicates is short-lived.  I believe it could help us think about courting our spouses long after the wedding thank you cards have been sent out, and the marriage certificate arrives in the mail.

“[O]ur honeymoon will shine our life long: its beams will only fade over your grave or mine.”
― Charlotte BrontëJane Eyre

Source: The Honeymoon

Pressed:  EMPTY BEACHES by Chris Crawford

23 May

Source: EMPTY BEACHES by Chris Crawford

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Many things can be discovered by spending time on a beach in any country. Some of the things that come to mind for me are; level of happiness of the local people, family values and local social habits.

Shelley and I had a chance to experience this on our honeymoon in the Dominican Republic. We spent two weeks there over Christmas and New Years 2016.  It was a welcome break in our crazy lives of planning and then having a wedding. During this time away we made a conscious effort to learn basic Spanish so that we could converse with the locals and experience the real Dominican Republic.

About an hour before we landed, I heard an excited voice say “pull out the travel book.  We need to learn Spanish if we plan on making it to the resort. ”  For the next hour, we went through the drills of learning a few basic phrases. Even in the customs line-up we befriended a  weary  traveller who spoke Spanish to help us learn how to catch a bus to Jaun Dolio beach.  I could not absorb as much as Shelley because I did not sleep on the plane.  She has the gift of being able to sleep the moment that she sits down. I should say lies down all oer me as I was the pillow for the five hour flight. Needless to say she was much fresher than I was when we arrived.

We made it through the Airport and picked up our luggage.  As we exited the airport, we were met with a barrage of taxi drivers and such.  All were eager to try and help us use their cab. Shelley Tip # 1, don’t let anyone grab your luggage. As it turns out, the friendly help would cost us a $270 USD ride to the resort. Shelley tip #2 they will haggle.  A simple Spanish of saying that is was “way to much”, dropped the price to $150 USD.  It was still to much for our liking, so plan B was executed — Public Transit.

We had the entire afternoon to make it to the resort and we used it to travel with the locals and see some of the country that the average tourist would never see. Three buses later, thanks to Shelley’s Spanish lessons on the air plane, we were dropped of in front of our resort. The total was thirty Canadian dollars for the both of us.  After the journey, a check in and good sleep was in order.

In the morning, we had a light breakfast and were eager to hit the beach and take a swim in the azure Caribbean sea. As we walked IMG_1541onto the beach, we noticed that hardly anyone was on the beach beyond the strip in front of the resort.  Three hundred feet around the corner and we had about a mile of tropical beach to our selves –Heaven.  It is very easy to lose track of time when all you see is the hypnotising surf of the Caribbean and the tropical winds moving through the palm trees.

Our second adventure was a self-guided trip into the old colonial zone in Santa Domingo.  More public transportation. Santo Domingo is the oldest colonial city in the Americas. Founded by Bartholomew Columbus in 1496.  He was the son of Christopher Columbus. We had an incredible day exploring all the old buildings.

After the day of exploring the old colonial zone had concluded, it was time to make it back to the Hotel.  Three busses and a slow trip through the heart of Santo Damigo during rush hour was all that it took to get back to the hotel. It was  a look into the real world of the Dominican Republic.  If anyone really wants to experiance any country and  know how the locals live, public transit will show you it in about one hour stuck in rush hour traffic. What a ride it was with people  hanging out the door of the bus and people stepping on at every stop to sell food to the the hungry passengers.

The real contrast for me on this trip has been the different people managing the crazy pace of the city to the construction worker napping in the shade.  Everyone knew how to move quickly, but all seemed to also know how to slow down.  For me, the time spent on the beaches was the real Dominican spirit. Locals spending time with their families on a Sunday with a picnic seemed to be their favourite pastime. Their only concerns seemed to be where to find a palm tree for shade.  We should all spend a bit more time looking for shade under a palm tree.