I wrote my memoir Starving Girl in 30 days. I didn’t think it could be done, after all, I’d spent years and years writing my other books, many of which were still unfinished. What was different about Starving Girl? I created an exciting dramatic experience in my own life and the story line followed.
The bottom line was I needed a challenge, presented in my day-to-day living. Something big enough to inspire me into a new exciting reality. With that in mind, I started on my next 30-day challenge. Why 30 days? Because 30 days is a good base number to form a new habit. (Read here for more ideas about that). 30 Days of Kindness to My Husband was born.
Like my first 30 days of fasting, 30 Days of Kindness to My Husband was thrilling, but the story behind it was more subtle than 30 days of fasting. It started first with intention and in a beautiful dance of will, my actions followed. From day one, I say my husband Derek different. He was my focus and like a flame in the darkness, I became more aware of his presence. My every day actions became more narrowed on him. Before, I’d rush through conversations, a sort of “Get to the point,” perspective. After all, I’m a busy girl and if I allowed it, our dialogue could be all business: What are the kid’s schedules? Who’s picking which kid up where? Did you call the plumber? Did you see where I put my shoes? A marriage should not be a business partnership, even if only for moments at a time.
My husband is such a gift. In a world full of ill intended, even arrogant men, he is a serving, loving, adorable gem. I didn’t mean to take him for granted, but I did. So how did writing keep me on task to change my habits?
It started with my wedding photos. I pulled out my wedding album and randomly started looking at us. This was going to be fun.
During my 30 Days of Kindness to My Husband, I found clues everywhere suggesting I could do better as a wife and kept mental notes. So many aspects of me had slipped, including my patience. Quick wit could be one of my literal gifts, but over the years it had turned into unintended insults and my tongue snapped like fingers at a jazz concert. I didn’t mean to be so opinionated, but wasn’t it obvious I knew better. Small tasks like driving turned into me offering suggestions and pointing out discrepancies. Just wanting to help was an unnecessary evil. If I had not set my goal to put kindness first, I’m not sure I would have noticed Derek’s larger-the-life patience, his awareness of my needs, the children’s needs and the purposeful way he provides for our family.
I started to see the story everywhere because Derek and I were the story. His voice became more pronounced and I noticed his deep tones. One night, when he reached for my hand, I actually had butterflies in my stomach and it reminded me of the romance we’d experience while dating. I started sending him texts like “I love you” and “Hurry home.” Always full of compliments, Derek would tell me I’m beautiful and I actually started listening to him. His words meant something and if he spoke it, I respected him. After a week of this, I finally felt the pure joy of his compliments. The words “You’re beautiful,” entered my mind with such love, I could feel my perspective shift. I was becoming how he saw me.
With little effort, but a great big thing called intention, I had changed so much. I loved who I’d become. My need to be heard and be right all the time had gone away. In its place was more trust, patience and love. I was surrounded by goodness and practically tripping over my blessings. Derek’s love for me was life-changing and it was about time I took notice.
The last weekend of the 30-day challenge, Derek was out of town and I missed him terribly. I thought of those who have long-distance relationships or couples who live apart because of military service. How did they do it? Like while fasting, I kept myself busy with the baby and household projects. That night, I put the baby on my bed to change him into his pajamas when I noticed it – a yellow rose on my pillow. My story unfolded again and the depth of love in my life was almost more than I could handle. Derek’s presence was everywhere and I took this beautiful symbol of love to heart. I would never go back to who I was before the 30 Days of Kindness to My Husband. Kindness was the gift that kept giving. How was I going to keep up with all the love coming back to me? Now that was a challenge I could handle.
The last day of the 30 Days of Kindness to My Husband, I did something I hadn’t expected. I said to Derek, “I’m sorry.” With tears in my eyes, I asked for his forgiveness. Like a giant teddy bear, he wrapped me up in his arms and told me that was unnecessary. He didn’t need me to apologize. I was his perfect wife and he saw me for all the good I was. Even still, I needed to say it and now, I’m on a new, fresh path in my relationship with my man.
Now, in this world of girl-power and modern-day feminism, I’m sure somebody could read about my experience and deem me subservient and passive, but let me assure you this is not the case. Girl power is wonderful, but not when used to dominate. Feminism is important, but there is still a certain grace we as women carry that needs to be accentuated, not squandered.
For the last ten years, Derek has taken me on a date almost every weekend.
The truth is, being a writer I've create worlds and stories in my mind, but living out these experiences, even these challenges is something I’m just now realizing I can be doing all the time. I have loved the new windows of exploration, the journaling and watching the story unfold. My next 30-day challenge, 30 Days of Service Toward My Children. During Christmas time, this is going to be uniquely special. I can hardly wait to get started. Who’s with me?